At the time of this writing, our annual celebration of Easter is still fresh in our rearview mirrors. Did the early occurrence of this holiday catch your website off guard? Instead of letting important holidays like Easter and Christmas creep up on you and your web team; create a website maintenance calendar for regular reviews and content creation pushes to capitalize on these large events.
In case you did not notice, this blog has a regular rhythm to it. I publish a new article every Friday. If not, I am sure I would not be nearly as regular with my updates. To help me with this effort, I created Google calendar events to occur every Thursday evening. These events send out reminders via email and SMS text messages, allowing me to plan and remember to write my articles.
Obviously major site updates such as new look and feel (graphics, photos, colors, etc.), re-platforming (moving to a new technical solution, and new content strategy (new content and navigation) require a lot more time and planning than just a day’s notice. These larger projects sometimes require six months of preparation and work. Be sure to consult your team(s) about time and effort estimates so you can prioritize your church's major web projects (effort vs. return on investment).
Smaller projects might include the development of a new landing page for a special event. These tools are useful for anything from Easter and Christmas, to a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. They most likely need about a month of planning. They typically do not require a lot of technical help, but rather a lot of writing and design expertise.
The Smaller Details
The smallest of the updates are your regular postings. Be these daily devotionals, weekly blog posts from your pastor, or monthly reports on the health of the church; these often require only writing skills. The good news is that typically the workload is on the preparer and not the web team. After a review of the content for accuracy, grammar, and content, the only work required is to copy and paste it into your pre-made template.
Quite possibly the easiest way to keep in the know is to have someone from your web team present at church leadership and/or committee meetings. This will keep your website in step with what your church is doing, along with setting expectations for leadership; both in terms of what they will get, and when they will get it.
When someone says "the website is looking a bit dated", you are already a few months behind the curve. Plan for major and incremental updates so they do not become surprises. Using a liturgical calendar in combination with a traditional one will keep you well informed of upcoming events. Having a member of your web team at key committee meetings will not only give you insight to the church calendar, but give other an insight to what the web team is concerned with. Lastly, by keeping regular with your updates your audience will come to expect and eventually rely on your ministry for constant help and guidance.
Photo courtesy of Maxime Perron Caissy