Happy New Year! After a hiatus of several weeks, I’m back to writing the Christian Web Trends blog. Our whole staff here at OurChurch.Com has been working day and night in preparation for yesterday’s grand opening of our new NE1 Website Builder. By the way, if you blog about tech stuff, we’d love for you to write a review of NE1. Let me know if you do, and I’ll mention it and link to it here.
The reason we’ve been working so furiously is because January more than any other time of year is when organizations set new goals and take their websites to the next level. We’ve been providing website services to Christian organizations for more than 11 years now, and we see this every year. So, we wanted to have our new web builder available so organizations could both improve the look of their sites and improve its functionality now when people are most likely to be motivated to improve their websites.
This time of year I’m a big proponent of taking time to reflect back on the past year and setting new goals for the new year. I hope you’ll do that personally, and if you manage a website I hope you’ll do that with regards to that as well.
- What do I like about my site?
- What’s working well?
- What did I do new in 2007 and how did that work out?
- What could I do in 2008 to take my site to the next level?
As you consider these questions, here are 9 possible goals you might want to consider for your website in 2008.
1) Go From Web 0.0 to Web 1.0 If your organization doesn’t have a website, get something online. Even if it’s just a simple site that has basic contact information and a little blurb about what you’re all about
2) Go From Web 1.0 to Web 1.5 If your website is basically an online brochure that rarely changes, consider adding new content on a regular basis. Maybe you add an occasional announcement, a calendar, pictures, or sermon audio. Provide something that gives people reason to come back to your website.
3) Go From Web 1.5 to Web 2.0 If your site is being updated with new content on a regular basis, good for you. That’s more than most organizations can say. Maybe in 2008 you choose to take your site from one where all the information flows from your organization to visitors and make it more interactive allowing users to contribute to the content. Maybe you add forums, photo sharing, or a blog where people can post comments. One of the cool things the NE1 web builder does is it allows users to place a comments module on any page. This can turn an article into a discussion or an announcement into an opportunity for feedback.
4) A New Look. If your site has had the same design for 3 years or longer, it’s probably time to give it a new look. If you use a web builder like NE1, giving your site a new look can be done in less than a minute by selecting a new template. If not, a redesign might be a bigger project, but a worthwhile one.
5) Eliminate Gratuitous Animations. If your site still includes gratuitous animations – that is animated graphics that accomplish nothing other than making your site look busy – remove them. Like fuzzy dice and “baby on board” signs, they were cool when they came out, but if you still have them you are at least a decade behind the times. I also suggest eliminating animated cursors, web award graphics, and affiliate program banners, or at least moving them off your homepage. (Of course, if you have an OCC partnership program graphic on your homepage, you’ll want to keep them there. 😉 )
6) Get a Domain Name. If your site does not have its own domain name, get one.
7) Get Listed. If your site is not listed in online directories relevant to your site, register it. If you have a Christian site, get listed in Christian directories. If you have a local business, get listed in local business directories. There are lots of little niche directories all over the web.
8) Optimize for Search Engines. Search engines offer the biggest potential for new site visitors. Read up on the things you can do to help your website rank closer to the top of the search resolves for relevant search phrases. At the very least, optimize your homepage if not your entire site. If you don’t have the time or aptitude for it, OCC can help you with search engine optimization.
9) Bring It On (line) What information does your organization provide offline that you could start providing more efficiently online? Churches – are you spending a lot of time and money printing newsletters? Schools – are parents constantly calling in to ask about the lunch menu or sports schedules? Business owners – are customers constantly calling for prices, catalogs, or user manuals? This doesn’t mean you eliminate print versions of these items, but you could save time and money by making them available online.
What goals have you set for your website in 2008? Let’s hear ’em.
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