By Mark MacDonald
Church Branding Strategist and Consultant
It’s digital spring cleaning time — specifically time to freshen up your church website.
Even after just a few months, so much on your website needs a little attention. It’s probably picked up a ton of content over fall ministry launches, Christmas busyness and the “new year new you” ministry refresh. Keep in mind the website is where people should turn for information, so that information should be the latest and best. This is especially important since Easter is on its way and your congregation and community view that season as a time for renewal.
Want to give your website a deep spring cleaning but don’t know where to start? Here are four tips for covering foundational areas of your site.
- Backup and update. Your website has many files housed on a hosting computer with access to the World Wide Web. Protect your files! Most hosts allow backups into a zip folder you can store on your computer. Why? If something goes wrong as you do the next three website spring cleaning items, you can always restore to backup. It’s a safety thing. After the backup, look around your website dashboard for areas requiring updating (plugins and content management system). Be cautious. Start with plugins and then do CMS (i.e., WordPress), ensuring plugins are approved for the latest CMS updates.
- Organization. Look at your website with fresh eyes. Think of it as a filing cabinet with content your community and congregation need. Your main menu is the main filing drawers. Ensure you don’t have too many or it’ll feel confusing. Web paradigm says the first tab should be “About” and the last should be “Contact.” The other four or five need to allow everyone to discover what you do in ministry. Options? Serve, Ministries, Missions, Events, Watch, Resources, Calendar, Give.
- Improve calendar functionality. There are two types of web content: static and dynamic. Static requires adding content that remains until you remove or change it. Dynamic allows adding content into a dashboard and having it “magically” get added to other pages. This functionality improves the user experience so they can get a customized feeling from the website. Concentrate on calendar dynamic content as part of your spring cleaning as much as the CMS system allows. Options? Calendars with filterable events and filtered events distributed to appropriate ministry pages.
- Update your staff page. The “About” tab should be an easy way for your community to see what church leadership looks like. The community often uses staff pictures to understand if they’ll belong, so make sure photos are current and friendly. Only show what you risk being judged about (i.e., head/shoulders rather than whole body). Make pictures consistent so no one person stands out. And the staff, team or leadership page also should have an easy way to identify who’s in charge of ministries and provide easy contact (email link or clickable phone number).
Mark MacDonald is a communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000-plus churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, “Be Known for Something,” is available at BeKnownBook.com.