I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you are a pastor in your late 40's, your opinion of a website aimed at an early 20's audience really does not matter. Well now that the awkward part of this article is over, I will move on to what really counts; and that is if your church website is meeting the established business goals. In this article I will explore different ways the decision makers can provide good feedback and shape a great experience for your target audience.
Be humble and quiet
In an early article on designing church websites, I tried to emphasize that despite a lack of formal training or real experience, many web users think they know how to design a good website. Granted we may know what good design looks like when they see it. But it is altogether different to be able to create a well designed page. When you are presented with a website design, here are some tips that will help you not only gain respect from your team, but make design discussions go more smoothly.
This is where the church leadership can impress the web design team. Remind your designers to avoid asking "What do you think?" or "How does this make you feel?". You can politely reframe the question in terms of the business goals: "I think the question we need to ask is does it meet the need." or "Instead of that I think we need to see if this solves the problem we are facing".
Instead of answering in terms of "I" shift to "users". Remind yourself with every response that it is not your viewpoint you need to consider. This not only keeps your personal opinions out of the mix, but it puts the ball back in the court of the web designer to explain how they solved a particular problem. Instead of saying "I do not think red is the correct choice", approach it with "Red is an offensive color in Korea, so users of those users of this mission outreach website may not like the color scheme".
Consider the audience
If you are unsure if something on the website is appropriate, ask questions framed for the audience. Some examples are: “Is this what 20-somethings like?”, “Does this invite young families”, and “Would a non-believer want to come to this event?”. Because of your age, culture, and environment, it may be very difficult to understand your audience’s perspective. This is where some quick testing can come in handy. Find some people in that target market and ask them for a minute of their time.
Keeping your opinion out of the mix is indeed difficult. I hope these three tips can keep your head in that right frame of mind. But to fully understand your audience requires research and relationships. Research the demographic you are targeting and gain as much objective data about them. Secondly, establish relationships and understand their culture. Find them in their environment and engage them. Not only will you be gathering good subjective data, you just might be talking to your newest member!
Photo courtesy of Johnny Magnusson