You’ve seen out 2017 and welcomed in 2018. Your resolution list is made and it’s time to get into the new year. This is a good time review your congregation’s website.
Of course, you keep the website up-to-date, and the Christmas service times have been replaced by Epiphany celebration notices. What about the look and feel of the site? Does it have that same oh-so-2000 look? Is it time to replace images of acolytes who were 10 but are now graduating from college? What can you do to freshen it up?
For a place to start, look at your images. Are you trying to use clip art-type icons or photo stock images? Smart phones and cameras are so good now that you can replace outdated photos and stock images with new photographs from almost anyone who takes a picture. Just make sure that it is in focus, that you have permission to use it, and that it is representative of your congregation. For some tips, check out this blog post by John Rollins: Get good photos with point-and-shoot auto-focus cameras.
Smart phones also now take excellent videos. A new 90-second video added occasionally to highlight an upcoming event or season (What is Lent about anyway?) can pique interest. Videos also share nicely on Social Media with links to drive people back to your website. Nina Nicholson wrote a blog post to help you with that: A guide to making quality church videos on a tight budget.
Those clip art icons are not in current vogue, so they make your website look dated. Replace them with your own pictures or with plain words. If you want to be able to make your own designs, try looking at Canva, an easy to use, potentially free, online design website.
Check your content. Keeping your announcements current is easy, but the “about us” pages do need attention from time-to-time. It is so easy to miss changing the programs and their contacts unless someone alerts you. Ask the folks in your congregation who are responsible for programs to look over the pages relevant to their ministries and let you know whether any changes need to be made.
You can find horror stories of awful websites by Googling “worst websites 2017.” Visiting some of the links might give you some ideas about what to avoid. Certainly, you want to make sure your website is using responsive design so that it looks good on smart phones, tablets and desk-tops. Those using Weebly.com and the Church Website Project are covered in that area. Huge, slow-loading graphics and flash are also to be avoided.
Looking at the good things and the latest trends will also help you make your congregation’s site as attractive as possible. There are awards for best websites and you can see some here. What do these have in common?
- represents its source accurately
- resonates with the target community.
- communicates compelling values .
- is optimized for multiple devices.
- invites the user to become involved
- is always changing
Happy New Year!