Everything on your website must have a purpose. Just like a Sunday sermon, if you go off on an unnecessary tangent, or leave a key piece of information out; you are doing your listeners an injustice and may lose their attention. I imagine most pastors research and prepare an outline for their sermons. The content on your website should be no different and not treated as something we should do at the last minute. A great tool to focus your efforts is a content strategy document.
After your church develops a web navigation structure, you will need to decide what content will be on each page. Note that there are times when you can utilize templates. A biography page for church staff is a great example. Although you may have many people on staff, you only need to decide what will be on that page template once. The same concept can apply to ministry pages, yearly events, etc. So rest easy in that you do not have to map out every page, just every page type.
Once you define the page types, begin to document the purpose for each piece of content on those pages. This gives you a clear picture of what, and more importantly, why content will be there. If you cannot justify why content exists, be it writing, imagery, or a table of information; then it should not be on your site.
For even more detail, tie that purpose to a specific business goal. After your document is done, you can easily see how many parts of your site are dedicated to a particular goal. You can then fine-tune your content to be more balanced, or lean toward an important goal.
Lastly, define who will be responsible for creating and maintaining that content. Hint, writing “pastor” for every entry is not a good solution! You can educate your staff on how to write for the web, and let them create their own stories. Have your worship leader describe their program, outlining all of the benefits of getting involved. However, you should have one person in charge of gathering and editing all of the content. Another technique is to have peer reviews of each content section. Some helpful critiques should come out of that, plus ideas may spark and you will get to see better second revisions.
This process is not just for new sites. But you should start with a content strategy document template. Examine your existing site and see where you need to add something or trim some fat. Review drafts with members of your church and agree on what needs to be where, why, and who will be responsible. Then watch how your content updates and site revisions will be tighter, cleaner, and bring more people to follow Jesus!
Photo courtesy of Serkan ER