This 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?
3) “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:
- 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?
- 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)
- 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]