Less Clutter, Less Noise: 10) Untangle The Web

Untangle The WebThis chapter (and book) came to me at a great time. We are just wrapping up a couple of new websites for our church. One, which I was heavily involved in, SaturateOnline.com, and another, our new church website at LCBCChurch.com.

I found myself checking back to Kem’s book often reminding myself of some of the tips she gives. So, I thought I’d share my top three points that helped me in the process of crafting a new web presence.

1) “Take off the technology glasses…Start looking at it (the Web) as an environment where people gather and might bring their friends.”

This was super important for us. I work with 20somethings. We have a weekly gathering, but are realizing that a once a week thing isn’t necessarily what’s going to work for creating a network of 20somethings. We needed something where they could connect now, or on the go. Instead of just creating a static website, we went the route of the blog. Here is an environment where they can interact, share their thoughts, and connect with other 20somethings.

2) “What are our objectives? What will happen as a result of this new site? How will we measure our success?”

I have to admit. This one is a challenge. I love the idea of something new without thinking through the why. It’s just the way I’m wired. With that said, I have leaned heavily on this question while working on our new stuff. Sometimes you need to know “why” just to keep going. Even more importantly is to know what you expect of the site and how you will measure that. Simply getting visits to your site isn’t enough. You want action. Is your content being read? Are they buying your product? Are they signing up for your event?

Info Card3) “Use the paper content to drive people to the Web.” and “Don’t create handouts for your info counter.”

These thoughts are out of the “How to draw people to the Web” section. Honestly, this is probably a big thing for a lot of us, at least it is where I’m at in Pennsylvania. One thing I’ve noticed is it’s easy for us to offer multiple solutions to a problem. We want people to sign up on the web, but we are afraid people won’t go to the site, so we offer paper sign-ups. Registration #FAIL. If we continue to offer the paper solution, those people will never try the website. There’s no need too. We need to make sure we aren’t self defeating in this area. Our 20somethings ministry was being asked to have some information for our information racks at our church, so instead of creating a long description of what we do on paper, we made a simple 3.5″x3.5″ card, with our four environments on it. At the bottom it said, “Experience more at saturateonline.com”.

I could write a lot more on this chapter. There are so many practical take-aways, mostly in the form of questions to be thinking through. And like most things, always keep in mind that what might work (in regards to a website) in Pennsylvania might not work where you are. Get to you know your people. Determine who your primary users for your website are. Build it around them.

Also, hopefully me giving some examples of what the church I’m apart of doesn’t present the idea that we have it figured out. We certainly don’t. I’m constantly reevaluating our content and asking people how they engage with our websites/blogs, or even if they engage at all. There’s always more to learn!

Here are just a few questions to get you thinking about this subject:

  1. Some churches have creative teams or a creative process for their weekend gatherings, or any other gathering/environment that they may have. If our online spaces should/could be viewed as environments, do you have a creative team for them? Is there a group of volunteers or staff who you meet with regularly to check in and see how your online environment is going?
  2. What tools do you use to measure your goals online? Do you have goals? (I’d really love to hear some responses on this one below)
  3. How are you driving people to the web? Do you have a culture at your church or non-profit where people automatically go to the web for info and connection, or is it a hassle to get people there?

Image by [Steve Jurvetson]

9) Tell One Story at a Time <– Less Clutter, Less Noise –> 11) Rewrite Your Job Description

Adam works at LCBC Church in Lancaster, PA. He loves to spend all kinds of time online reading and learning new things. He also loves spending time with his wife and family. Check him out on Twitter or his Blog.

14 Responses to “Less Clutter, Less Noise: 10) Untangle The Web”

  1. Lee Ann Berthiaume Reply Feb 2, 2011 at 5:13 am

    This is great information! As a staff member of a church plant, the website tends to be a side item. However, where we are in social media and the like…we've got to keep on top of this as a ministry tool.

  2. Adam, My experience shows that ministries have largely kept the view of online communications as simply an "add-on" to what they are doing offline. As people increasingly living out their lives online through social web properties, it is critical NOT to ignore this trend.

    As an example, one client scenario comes to mind. When they first came to me for help with their online communications strategy + social media activities, they pursued the conversation isolated away from the people who manage their offline messaging and brand work. My urging was to involve all parties in the discussions when setting down topline messaging plans because you really want an integrated approach so the community doesn't experience any big disconnects in the communications and hence relationship with the ministry.

    As for measurement of web activities, if you work through most areas, you can find some simple solutions. For example, at our church, we finally added "How did you find out about our church?" and added "website" as an option. Now we know that 50%+ of new visitors visit our site before walking in the door. That kind of data makes everyone realize two things A) what a good job the site is doing in bringing in people and B) how we present ourselves on the web shouldn't be taken casually anymore like an "extracurricular" project.

    Adam – you're right in that this chapter has a ton of good points of inspiration. Love the clean websites you shared in the post above!

    @godvertiser on Twitter

  3. Adam, you are right. This chapter is full of useful nuts and bolts even if I wish I could just ignore them. Thanks for the great and practical summary. I have always taught that if you think you've got it made (got it all together) you've already started getting behind. The apostle Paul said something like that when writing to the Corinthians. In the new social media world we live in, that is clearly true. I am learning so much. It makes me excited – and tired. I'm afraid I'm still grappling with your three questions so no help from this corner at this time.

  4. PaulSteinbrueck Reply Feb 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Adam, thanks for blogging about this chapter. All 3 of the points you made are huge. It really is important to start by defining your objectives rather than just listing the functionality you want on your website.

    It's also really important to make sure the person ultimately responsible for the church's website is a decisive leader with a strong commitment to those objectives. Too often the church web guy/girl just takes orders from the senior pastor and ministry team leaders, and inevitably the site gets cluttered as he/she tries to accommodate everyone.


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