Do a website doubletake

Group 236

“If you have a website, it is time for you to take a good look at it and evaluate if it is meeting your needs,” writes the Rev. Joelle Colville-Hanson, Director for Evangelical Mission in the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod.  She skims some practical and important considerations as we move into 2016 for what’s often called the very visible “front door” of your congregation.

Will 2016 be the year you update your website?

by the Rev. Joelle Colville-Hanson*

It’s 2016.

1601updatewebsiteIt is time for every congregation to have a website as well as a Facebook page.

If you have a website, it is time for you to take a good look at it and evaluate if it is meeting your needs.

In 2014 I wrote this:  “How to Improve Your Website.” Take another look at this because it covers the basics:

  • Have a clear strategy of what you want to accomplish with your website
  • Design it for visitors
  • Keep it updated
  • Make sure it looks good and can be navigated on all mobile devices and all browsers.  What looks good on your browser can be a mess on another one.

Another consideration to keep in mind for your website is security.

Hackers are looking to get into your site, not just for information but to use your server to hack into bigger sites.

The two most common reasons your site gets hacked is that you have a weak password and you have outdated software.
Did you know the most common password is “Password”?

By keeping your passwords strong and your software updated you can reduce most of your security risks.

Your website is your space on the internet.

It is your front door for visitors.  But it can be even more.   Websites can be powerful tools for ministry and can be the foundation that supports many of the communication needs of the parish.  It can also be a tool to reach out with the Gospel beyond your doors and your own members

To get the most out of your website, it needs to be regularly updated and maintained.  This is probably too much work for the pastor or even a volunteer in most cases.  Do it yourself solutions are not only time consuming, but they look amateur to visitors who are used to seeing professional looking websites in other areas.

The time has come for congregations to budget for their web presence just as they budget to maintain their building.

In this day and age your web presence is just, as if not in some cases, MORE important than your building.

So let this be the year that if you don’t have a congregational website, you start one.

If you have one, you assess how well it is accomplishing its goals and work on updating it and strategize how you can better utilize your site to enhance parish communications and further your mission.

If it’s too late to get this as a line item in your congregational budget, use this year to educate your congregation on why this is a good thing for your mission.

* “Will 2016 be the year you update your website?” is reprinted with permission
from ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod’s God’s Work Our Blog (1/7/16)