The world does not need the perfect church website. What it needs is your church's website inviting people to experience the Gospel now. If it is not online, no message gets out. Every day you wait for perfection is another day your voice is not heard. Instead of creating the prefect website, publish your best draft. You will make some mistakes along the way, but those learning experiences will shape your future. This article will explore two scenarios your church may be in.
As you can tell by the introduction, I want you avoid making the perfect website for your church. Instead, focus on making a good website that is better than what you currently have. When you get stuck making things perfect, it affects the launch date as well as your sanity. Make something that is functional and get it out there.
Creating a New Website
Are you creating a new website? You may be an existing church that is just getting around to making a site. Or you may be a new church plant and are just starting. Regardless, you feel the pressure of getting online as soon as possible. The problem is that you want to make a great first impression. This is understandable as most visitors check out your website first. If it appears unprofessional, they may not even consider attending. Where is the middle ground?
The key is to appear professional and answer the minimal amount of questions. I would love for you to develop some amazing content about your ministries. This would include compelling text with engaging photos of actual members.Yet time is not on your side. This is where you just cover the basics. Your address, phone number, and service times should be prominently and consistently displayed. But do not forget things like your worship style, youth ministries, and other key points. Think of what a new visitor would consider when first walking through the door. Additionally, I advocate the use of authentic photography. Feature actual members of your staff and congregation. But, in the interest of time, a solution such as stock photography may be the time saver you need.
Bottom line, get a good shell of a website up and running as soon as possible. As time permits, add more quality content. Update your branding once you settle on that new logo. If your mission director does not have the testimonial video, add it later. Honestly, it's OK to launch and make adjustments later. This brings me to my next point.
Updating an Existing Site
A common comment I hear is "We have a website, but it is not very good". The criteria for an updated site is simple. Make it better than "not very good". It may be moving the existing content to a new platform. You might need to update your graphics. Perhaps a copywriter needs to proof your content. Regardless, there are many ways to make your website just a little better.
Yet the first step I would take is to install an analytics package such as Google Analytics. If you already have one, document your baseline traffic. Without an accurate picture of before, you have no idea if your "after" is any better.
Another key to getting an existing site updated quickly is to have small projects. Remember that they should work toward a larger goal. This may mean accomplishing a few small projects without any publishing your work to your live site. Your internal staff can review these smaller pieces as you create them. This incremental review spreads out the workload over time. Plus when the project series concludes, there is a smaller risk of it missing the mark.
Do not create a website project the size of Leviathan. Create smaller projects that either get something worthwhile out on the web, or make at least one thing better. Perfection is a journey not a destination. Your website can, and should, evolve over time to be better. Just remember to put an analytics package in place first. This way you can track your progress and see if your efforts resulted in success.
Image courtesy of Foto Cromo