Here are a few tips to jump start (or revitalize) your church or school web site design efforts:
- Form a Web Communications Committee - This type of committee can supply fresh ideas for your web site that you wouldn't necessarily think of on your own. Challenge the committee to review your site for friendliness and usefulness to both visitors and members of your organization.
- Know your audience - Who are you trying to reach and what message do you want them to receive from your site? Make sure your site design makes it easy for that desired communication to happen.
- Look at other sites for ideas - Why reinvent the wheel? Find a few sites that you like and model your site after their design. A good place to start is our list of featured FinalWeb sites.
- Develop goals for your web site and discuss how best to meet those goals - Here are a few sample goals to get you started:
- Use the web site to welcome visitors and make it extremely easy for them to find basic information about our church and school (summary of beliefs, location, service times, contact information, etc.).
- Post all calendar events online and regularly remind members via bulletin and newsletter announcements to check the web site for the most up-to-date calendar of events.
- Provide live streaming of church services on the web site on a weekly basis.
- Adopt a menu structure and template, then use it consistently - Once you've decided on a menu structure and template for your site, use it across your entire site and all sub-sites. This makes site navigation easy for your visitors and adds to the professionalism of your design.
- Start with the basics and grow - Determine your priorities for the site and do them well! If you plan to post your bulletin and newsletter online and regularly update your online calendar, then make the commitment to always do these things on time and in a consistent format. Don't try to do too much at first - you can always add more over time once you are comfortable with the basics.
- Use WELS.net RSS feeds to keep your site fresh - One of the easiest things to add to any dynamic page on your web site is RSS feeds of devotions, prayers, Q&A, and Bible readings from WELS.net. Much of the content is updated on a daily basis and will automatically be displayed on your site with zero effort on your part, once the feed is added.
- Enlist help - Depending on your web site platform, office personnel, teachers, pastors, staff ministers, and volunteers may be able to have login privileges and maintain specific portions of the site.
- Tell 'em about it - Devise a communication plan to regularly promote your web site to congregation members and school families via your bulletin and newsletter. "Train" them to look online for the most up-to-date information.
Websites and Missions White Paper - A good guide for planning and developing a website that is focused on outreach.