Where do you start when you want to update your website? This series kicks off some big tasks of re-thinking your content, why it exists, how it fits into a navigation structure, who will create the content, who will maintain it, and when those updates will be made. All of these should be done prior to firing up Adobe Photoshop or writing a single line of HTML. Stick with me on this, it will be worth it!
I have written a lot about crafting a church content strategy, and this week will be no different. Your website is a tool to implement your church’s larger goals. It does this by communicating with a wide spectrum of people, answering questions, raising awareness, and hopefully prompting action. I gave a high-level guide to this in my Clueless to Colors article about how to get started with a new website or a re-design. I touched on some of the information gathering you would need to do in creating a content strategy document. However another tool can help you in a re-design called content analysis. Below I will outline the steps you need to take to get there.
First you need to outline what you currently have on your website. The difficulty of this exercise depends on the size of your church. Start by creating a spreadsheet (template / example) that captures the name of the page, its navigational category, and the overall goal of the page. Then dig and note each element on the page. This includes titles, blocks of text, images, links, videos, and any callouts you have on the page. A biography page will have a lot of small pieces of data, while a statement of faith will have a few large chunks of information and bullet points. The last and most important piece is noting what the intent of each piece of content is. Titles may introduce and entice, paragraphs might inform or possibly persuade, and buttons are a call to action. Each part of the page has an essential role, and it is your job to identify it.
Now that you have all of the content on your site outlined in this spreadsheet, you can do a great many things with it. Filter based on intent to see how many of each type you have. By objective (sheer numbers) or subjective (tactical effectiveness on each page) means you can see if your pages are meeting your business goals.
With a full inventory and analysis of your site’s content, you should have a clear picture where any gaps are. Are you skimping in an area? Is your church’s worship style described well enough? How about information on children’s ministries? Do you have a clear outline of your tenants of faith? What outreach ministries do you have that connect with social media? Look closely to see where you can close the gaps in your content. Re-read my article on writing for the web and start moving.
Do you think your church website is ready for an update? Start with your content first. Perform a content inventory, analysis, and gap analysis to see how your website is meeting your goals. Spend plenty of time writing and re-writing your content before you begin your site updates. Who knows, maybe all you needed was new content and the color schemes and images can stay.
Photo courtesy of Svilen Milev