Redesigning a website will not fix many aspects your digital ministries. Yet it is a go-to answer for many churches. We think that starting over from scratch will fix everything. A modern looking website is not always an effective one. Proper direction, effective processes, great writing, and regular updates are essential parts of a good website. This article digs into each of these areas and encourages you to fix them before overhauling your entire site.
A website redesign is very expensive. Whether your staff or an external agency performs the work, it takes a lot of time and money. Before you invest those hours and dollars, I would encourage you to fix other problem areas. Your website is the base camp where everything launches from and returns to. So create a great foundation for this piece of your digital ministry.
A redesign will not answer the question "why do we even have a website?". If you cannot answer that question, your site will lack focus. Without it, you are jumping at trends, suggestions, and personal opinions. Everyone on your project team should understand your website's top objectives. More importantly, they must understand how they align with your overall digital strategy.
Reworking your website will not fix a broken process. It will not help your staff politics or make committee meetings run well. Personnel issues can affect how projects turn out. Deal with those problems before jumping into your next website iteration. Figure out new ways to include those difficult personalities in meetings. Offer training on appropriate content, responses, and procedures. If all else fails, you may need to ask someone to leave your team.
New graphics and layout will give your website a more modern feel. Yet it will not be more effective until your writing is fixed. Bad copy can leave visitors confused and sometimes offended. Remember to simplify words specific to church culture. Test your navigation and instructions . Ensure your visitors understand what you are asking of them. I should not have to say this, but proofread your text for spelling and grammatical errors.
Lack of Maintenance
The last thing a website redesign will not help is a lack of updates. Your church website is a garden. It requires regular maintenance. If you do not maintain your site, it stagnates and appears abandoned. This is probably the biggest reason your leadership wants to completely redesign the website. Keep it updated with the latest news and event. That way it may not be pretty, but at least it is functional.
The primary reason for this article is to halt your notion that your website needs overhauled. There are only a few reasons you need to completely scrap your existing website. Keep an open mind and look for any of the reasons mentioned in this article. Solve these problems prior to jumping into a large redesign project. You will better steward your church's resources. Plus you will fix the real problems that affect your digital ministries.
This article was inspired by Paul Boag's podcast episode "10 reasons it is not your web designer's fault!"
Photo courtesy of William Schenold