If you are a church that was founded before the late 90’s, you probably have some printed material that you wanted to move to a website. However, your church website is not just an electronic brochure you can hand people. As many studies have suggested, the majority of website content is skimmed, not read. Because of this, the content you may have developed for a printed brochure is not suitable to copy and paste to your website. Plus there are many limitations brochures have that websites do not. In this article, I will compare and contrast content strategies for both mediums.
Permanence: Text on a website can be changed after it has been uploaded, and text on a brochure cannot be changed once it has been printed. So what does this mean for you? What you put on your website does not have to be 100% perfect. Your content can be tweaked, new pictures can be uploaded, and additional sections can be added as time permits. Bottom line, do not hold up your entire site because of some small details.
Scanability: Although I just got done telling you that you can slap up content and edit it later; that editing process should be thorough and follow guidelines I established in previous articles. It should be short, concise, and easy to read. That combination should allow your readers to quickly scan your page content and dive deeper into content meant for reading (i.e. articles, sermons, etc.).
It took the web a few years to figure out that this new medium of communication is indeed different than the print world. Hopefully your church can learn from that early mistake and create an effective site more quickly and easily than the corporate world.
Do not rely on the old technologies and techniques of the print world. Although they are a good foundation and provide lessons in design, layout, color theory, etc.; they are locked into that medium of printed material. The web is an interactive world that expands and molds itself on a continual basis. Utilize those benefits along with an aesthetically pleasing design to create a great experience for your online customers.
Action Item: Take whatever material you have for printed brochures, modify it accordingly so that it works better for your church website. Make better use of space, update your site over time, and ensure it is easily scanned. If you copied and pasted brochure content in the past, revisit it and update your site to modernize your church’s brand and image. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV).