I hope you’ve been doing some dreaming and had a chance to imagine all your website could be in 2009. Unfortunately, unless you are an artist with a wealthy sponsor paying all your expenses to work at your own leisure, you probably have to get back to the real world – a world with limited resources and limited time.
That doesn’t mean we shelve all our dreams, but it does mean we have to consider which dreams are realistic and attainable, and what the cost of pursuing those dreams for our websites might be.
And as Christians there’s one more factor to throw in – the God factor. Sometimes God says no or wait to our dreams. And then sometimes He calls us to do things that seem unrealistic or things that we don’t have the resources for.
So, how can a web administrator know what goals to set? Here are 7 suggestions.
1) Consult with ministry leaders. Ask the leaders in your organization what could be done with your website that would really help their ministry, help them communicate better, help them be more efficient, help them better connect with the people they serve.
2)Ask the people. If you run a church website talk to the average Joe or Jill in your congregation. If you’re for a school, talk to some parents and students. If a business, talk with your clients. Find out what your “users” (for lack of a better term) like and dislike about your website and what they’d like to see improved.
3) Get outside opinions. Ask some other web administrators or web designers to critique your website. Ask them for their honest, no-holds-barred opinions. And be prepared to listen objectively. Constructive criticism may hurt your feelings, but if some aspects of your website look bad, are confusing, or don’t work you need to hear it so you make improvements.
4) Check your stats. Opinions are great, but facts are even better. Check your website statistics, logs, and analytics. See which pages are most popular, which are not. See what search engines and search keywords people are using to find your website.
5) Look at other websites. Get an idea of what other organizations like yours are doing with their website in terms of design, layout, and functionality. Not that you blindly copy anyone, but it provides added perspective.
6) Read. Read blogs like this to learn about trends in web technology, what’s really important, and what’s not.
7) Pray. There’s no substitute for design guidance. God frequently calls us to take unconventional steps of faith, and blesses our efforts big time when we do, so don’t just stick with what seems rational or what everyone else is doing.
Which of these are you doing as a part of the goal-setting process for your website?
Next week I’ll suggest specific goals and steps you might want to take in 2009 that could lead to dramatic improvements in your communication this year.