Archive for website content – Page 3

Be Attitudes

The “BE” Attitudes
Here are some important things to keep in mind when using Technology to reach out and communicate.

  1. Be Mindful of Your First Priority – Focus on Ministry.
  2. Be Conversational, Encourage Dialogue – Communication is a two-way street, and people like to be heard as well as hear.
  3. Be Community Oriented – People enjoy community, we are relational creatures. That is how God designed us, so be inviting.
  4. Be Respectful of Everyone – Digital communication, especially on the web and through texting, etc., can present boundary problems. Therefore, when communicating, always do so in a responsible manor to maintain trust and integrity.
  5. Be Servant Minded – Do your best to provide information not only for the wants but also for the needs of those with whom you communicate. Service comes in two main categories those which are regularly available and those that are available by request. Not everyone will want, or need, everything you have to offer. Make it easy for users to find and/or subscribe to things that are of value to them.
  6. Be Devoted – If you plan on using Digital technology for communication and building relationships, etc. you must be committed to being available, consistent, and timely with ALL communication. If you can not honor this commitment you will lose credibility with those you hope to build relationships. They will then see you as unreliable and will lose interest in what you have to say.

Google Analytics – Optimizing Customer Experiences

Getting the Most out of your Web Site

(Costs quoted are what you might expect pay to find if you do the website yourself)

Many churches and non-profit-organizations are hesitant to consider getting a website, because they are unsure of the costs they might incur. In fact, most businesses are surprised to find out how inexpensive a website can be, especially considering the amount of exposure involved. The exact price will depend on the size and complexity of the page and whether we use your graphics or ours, but let’s look at some of the factors involved:

Websites can reduce your print advertising costs, while reaching a much larger audience. If you take a smaller print ad, but point the ad to your website, the print ad can be not only much smaller, but more effective. This is because, unlike print advertising, nothing is in concrete – your website can be changed in moments to reflect current conditions.

The costs you can expect to incur in getting a website include the following:

Website Design costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the site. The industrial average for webmasters is a flat $50/hour for actual computer time spent on design or maintenance. A good rule of thumb to estimate how much you should pay for a website that is static is about $100 per individual web page.

Virtual Domain Name Registration will cost from $10 to $35 per year, depending on length of contract and “niche” service used. This is the registration process which gives you sole usage of “yourcongregationname.com” and is recommended for the serious church, but not required. We have the unique opportunity to offer you “your congregationname.elca.us.”

Web Hosting Fees – Costs can range from “free” (not really) to hundreds of dollars per month. Most of our sites reside with servers that generally cost about $15-$20 per month with reasonable set up fees ($15-25).

Search Engine Submission – This is probably the most important service available. Search Engine Services range from about $20 to $40 a month. This service is provided by many standalone submission services and by many website designers as part of their website hosting package (at an additional charge). It is also important to note that some of the most popular search engines are now beginning to charge to be listed in their search engines.

Additional Features – If you want to make a web site more interactive, with feedback forms, connection to database driven information and the like, expect the costs to go up.

Maintenance – Site maintenance is critical once the site is built. If you develop a page and never update it, this can reflect poorly on your congregation or organization.

Contact us for more information on this topic. We can be contacted at leithrugia@msn.com and we are anxious to help every congregation and non-profit have a clean, neat and relevant website. We will work with every organization every budget. All of our websites are custom built.

Disclaimer: This page is designed to provide information only and is not a substitute for advice that is specific to your church or non-profit. Before acting on any of the information above it is important you seek further advice from a professional who has taken into consideration the nature and circumstances of your business.

Site Content and Features

What to Include: Site Content and Features

Here are some examples are for a congregational site, but they may be adapted for other agencies:

 

• The full name, location, mailing address and phone number for your congregation. Make this prominent on the home page and available or easily accessible through a “Contact Us” link on every page

• E-mail link to the pastor, or some responsible congregation staff member or leader, as well as the Web steward

• A link or button to the ELCA home page: http://www.elca.org

• Use dynamic content, such as the ELCA Web feeds, to place regularly changing news headlines, prayers, and bible verses on your site. This is fresh content, you don’t have to maintain! (http://www.elca.org/webfeeds/)

• Augsburg Fortress also provides instant Web page panels and RSS (content syndication) feeds, including a Bible Verse of the Day and Festivals and Commemorations at http://www.augsburgfortress.org/rss/

• Prominent, easy to read worship schedule

• A calendar or weekly event listing – a helpful reference for members and a window into congregational life for visitors

• Features that welcome visitors to the congregation (area map, driving directions, photo of the church, building map, frequently asked questions, nursery information, links to information about the community)

• Features that are evangelistic (devotional materials, prayer request section, messages connecting faith to daily life).

• Descriptions of your ministries with contact information for team leaders

• Staff and volunteer leader profiles and a description of whom to go to for what

• Congregational directory, in a password protected area

• Forms to collect data to support the congregational program and member needs: time and talent survey, professional services directory, Sunday school and vacation Bible school registration forms

• Audio or video clips of sermons or transcripts, previews of upcoming sermon topics.

Getting Started

Spend some time planning and talking to figure out what kind of site you want to have. Some of the questions you might want to ask are:

What kind of info do you envision, and how often will you update it? Are you just going to have an online brochure-type site with just basic contact info, service schedule, etc that doesn’t get updated often… or perhaps something people are drawn back to by ever-changing content and current, detailed information? Warning: if you let the info go ’stale,’ it can be useless. If you post the type of information that should stay current, keep it current or remove it.

Focus: Is your site focused on info for your members or on drawing outsiders in? Is it about a ministry or a tool of that ministry to teach/reach others? Who is your target audience?

Message: What are you trying to get across about your church? Beyond address and service times… Try to show what makes *your* church different, or worth visiting.
Note that visitors may guess about your ministry priorities by what areas show the most information or detail.

Work with your Church/Ministry Staff and Leaders. We’d strongly encourage anyone planning and designing a site to communicate with their pastor(s) or other leaders and staff. They’ll probably be able to provide additional good ideas for content for the site, as well as being able to tell you when something would mean too much work for them.

Be somewhat informal in your writing style, it’s more friendly and attractive. Remember, you’re writing about this great group of people you get together with to worship this amazing God.

Quality is important, but it’s not everything. The quality of your site, expressed in look, usability, spelling, working links, good html, quick loading, clear navigation, etc is important. It will get across that someone cares enough to be careful and diligent and it will make using your site less frustrating and more effective.

Webbed for Success

Seek organizational support. The support of your church communication committee, congregational council, committees, staff and congregation will be extremely helpful in undertaking this information intensive/cooperative effort that will call for on-going budget support. Go to www.elca.org/webministry for links to articles and statistics that will help you explain the importance of this vital communication tool in your congregation.

What does it take? Computer capability, modem, browser (Communicator, Firefox, etc.), ISP (Internet service provider), software if designing in-house (Dreamweaver, FrontPage, etc.), a host site, and registration of a domain name. How much will it cost? How much can you spend? There are many low-cost options including template sites* and free hosting, for example on Thrivent’s Lutherans Online Web site at http://www.lutheransonline.com/servlet/lo_ProcServ/DBPAGE=cge. Probable costs are: monthly hosting fee, domain name registration ($70 for two years), possible monthly fees for some optional programs. Note: Your ISP may offer free hosting for a modest-sized site. To register your domain name go to http://www.networksolutions.com, http://www.godaddy.com or http://www.register.com  For inexpensive hosting try these http://www.iceishot.com, http://www.hostcompare.com, http://www.createafreewebsite.net/web_hosting_comparison_chart.html

Template/Database Site:

If using a template site* there may be an initial set-up cost, then a monthly fee that includes hosting, and possible additional costs for increased requested services. Choose a company where technical assistance is included in the monthly fee. If choosing to design and maintain the site rather than using a template site: Designed by professional:

Expenses are usually by the hour. Ask for references (check them) and to see several samples. Make sure you sign a contract that includes the date of delivery and fees. Gather all your content and have it ready in documents before giving it to the designer. Major changes and additions will add to the cost. Decide who will maintain the site before you begin. If it’s other than a staff member or volunteer, this could add greatly to your monthly costs. Get a copy of the site on CD. Make sure in the contract that you own the site design.

Designed by volunteer:

This is the most economical but riskiest option, especially if the designer is a member. It’s difficult to be honest about how you feel about the design. This is not a paying job so it will be on the volunteer’s timetable. Make sure you ask for a back-up disk of the site in case the person leaves the congregation or moves. Ask which program was used to create the site; FrontPage and Dreamweaver are the most commonly used.

Consider a database:

It has interactivity options like calendars and photo albums, updates without HTML, and can be updated online from various locations and therefore by several folks. This is how a template site works but could also be a requested part of a designed site. Who will design, build, manage and maintain the site?

Volunteer vs. professional, congregation or staff member, or a team? These are extremely important considerations in considering the complexity of the design and content. Make sure you can keep your site a manageable size so it can be kept fresh and updated. Who will provide the original content?

Pastor, a member of the congregation or staff, a committee? This can be a lengthy process. Having the content ready and proofed before the design phase can save considerable time and money. A site map is critical. (This is a layout of how the pages will flow from one to another.) Where to find help?

Helpful Resources are available from the ELCA.

ELCA Web Works – resources for enhancing your Web ministry: www.elca.org/webministry

Don’t forget to promote it. Put the address (URL) on all your stationary, business cards, brochures, e-mail signatures, newsletters, church sign. Send it to the synod www.elca.org/scriptlib/it/cds_CongrWebPages/cds_main.asp to be included on their sites.

*A company that provides simplified Web site design and hosting for a fee. You select from template pages and insert your information. They can be maintained without special html coding knowledge and have a professional appearance. There are many; go to a search engine and check for “church web sites.” http://www.cyberchurch.com

Advantages

Should your church have a website?

A Web Site is Affordable and Easy to Create
A Web Site will Promote your Church and Proclaim the Gospel
A Web Site Will Extend your Ministry

What are the advantages of having a church website?

It allows potential visitors or those searching for a church to learn a lot about us before committing to a visit. We’ve had a number of visitors and even new members tell us the site helped them decide to come to the church.

It offers a single, accessible, persistent source for most church information. The site is always there, can be accessed by anyone (who has internet access), and is kept current, unlike other paper communications. Communications can be posted more quickly than mailings, though they can’t be relied upon to reach nearly everyone.

It is useful in recruiting staff. Paid print ads can be short (i.e. inexpensive) but can reference the website for that additional information. Similarly, listings on internet job seeker sites can link back. Also, prospective applicants can learn about us before committing to an application

It can facilitate communications between members and with others using various online aids such as email lists, discussion forums, posting sections, etc.

It can help build your youth as a community. With a strong youth ministry section, your youth can have a way to not only keep up with what’s going on, but to communicate with you and with each other during the week.

Featured Content

Preparing  for Tomorrow:  Help plant seeds for tomorrow by using today’s tools. The Bible is full of analogies of “seeds”, and a carefully crafted website can help pave the way for generations to come.

Blogs: When a church blogs, they are doing a service to its members. Blogging is an act of providing people with helpful information in a reliable, friendly, and interactive way.

Sermons: A sermon is relevant beyond Sunday, and people are turning to the web to listen to sermon audios, watch sermon videos, download sermon podcasts, or read sermon transcripts.

Giving Online: As people become comfortable with online transactions, churches can offer safe and easy methods of giving to fit each member’s preference.

Events: Schedule an event, check the availability of the church, and coordinate schedules with easy event scheduling and online calendars.

Podcasts: With ipods in the hands of so many people, why not provide meaningful podcasts as a healthy alternative? Creating podcasts is fast and easy to do with the right tool.

Outreach: One of the challenges of mission outreach is effectively communicating the “cause”. Sharing information in a timely manner and educating people is a huge step toward making a difference in the lives of others.

Audio: Post audio online instantly. People can listen online or download and burn audio files to a CD. 

Gallery: No doubt about it. People love photos. With photos already in digital format, this tool is so easy to use.

Daily Bible Devotions and Readings: Bible verses can be dynamically pulled and posted to your website without any time or work involved.

Events: The content editing tool is intuitive, and it allows you to post current news and events on your website as often as you’d like. Feature it in a prominent place that will garner lots of attention, and your news will quickly become a bookmarked page by members.

Video: When it’s easy and hassle-free to add video to your website, you’ll find all kinds of video to post for members to watch. People appreciate this option, similar to providing video to local cable access.

Maps: People rely on online maps to get where they are going. Give people up-to-date maps and instructions to easy find the church and events.

RSS Feeds: RSS Feeds means interested members get information instantly. This permission based tool is growing in popularity as people come to rely on RSS Feeds to give them what they requested.

Newsletters and Flyers: Post forms and documents for others to access, while reducing printing and mailing costs.

Website Content

 

  1. Worship Service Information; one page devoted to details, and abbreviated information on almost every page of the site
  2. Contact Us; list all contact information and “emergency” information
  3. Meet Us; pastors and key staff bios
  4. Ministries; devote at least one page to the various ministries your church offers and expand on individual ministries on sub pages
  5. Blogs; at least one blog by someone who can make frequent, consistent posts
  6. Are children welcome?
  7. Photo’s of the church.

Most Requested:

  • Podcasts
  • Online giving
  • Pastors page
  • Calendar
  • Online Sermons
  • Photo Gallery
  • Audio/Video
  • Mission/Statement of Belief
  • FAQ’s
  • Church history
  • Newsletter archive
  • How to get involved
  • Maps
  • Activities
  • Mission Work
  • Missionaries

Gaining Popularity:

  • Shop online
  • Affiliates (publishing houses, bookstores)
  • Daily Devotions
  • Daily Bible verses
  • Ask a question, get an answer
  • Links or subpages to affiliated schools/daycares
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • RSS feeds
  • Community services
  • Member directories
  • Member Only sections (password protected)