Tune up your church’s web presence before Christmas Eve

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The launch in mid-October of Vital Practices has yielded plenty of usable ideas. Case in point: a brief consideration of how parish web sites can welcome visitors on Christmas Eve with greater hospitality and more usable information.


Points:

… Review your web page, voice mail, banners and signage through the eyes of someone visiting your parish for the first time.

Take a page from NPR’s digital media developers and go to a coffee shop, laptop in tow, and buy coffee for a stranger who is willing to poke around your website. Does their impression of your parish match up to your own sense of what the parish is?

… Select your parish’s top stories from the past year and feature these on the homepage. These provide wonderful insight for potential visitors into the nature and values of the community they will be visiting on Christmas.

… List your Christmas service times and include photos from last year’s service. If you don’t have any, make sure to ask someone to photograph this year’s event and save these photos for next year’s outreach.

… Include the service times for the major feast days that take place from Christmas through Epiphany. These are great opportunities for folks to return.

… Commit to a longer term review of your parish’s hospitality, perhaps by following some of Kathy Copas’ insights in this article.

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4 Responses to "Tune up your church’s web presence before Christmas Eve"
  1. I think you have to decide who the front page is for - if for strangers- it mainly needs a clear address and map - maybe a few pix to get a feeling with links to stories. No flash as many cannot down load it and will move on if it is slow. Don't get seduced by web site goodies.

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  2. I would add to Ann's comments that too much churchspeak can really discourage the new visitor to your website; a good question to ask the stranger in the cafe is whether their understanding of the words on your site matches what you intended to say.

    Regarding Flash, I do think most computer browsers have the capacity to handle it BUT it's a problem with mobile users (the iPhone, for example). Ann is right, though, too many bells & whistles can ultimately detract from your site.

    Lesley Carter

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  3. I just used blogger to build a new site for my congregation. I manipulated the html template a bit so i could do things like get rid of the blogger nav bar at the top of the page and add a favicon - little things to make it look a bit more professional.

    With the new features available on blogger - pages, etc - it made for an easy-to-update website, that looked a lot more professional and fresh looking website than our old one. And it's free!

    I was able to register a custom domain for only $10 a year, and then if you pair it with GoogleApps (also free for nonprofits) you can have domain-specific email addresses!

    Lots of little ways for a small, financially strapped parish to look as professional as the big kids! 🙂

    Our new address is http://www.stpaulsjc.org

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