Saturday, 3 May 2014

Church Websites: Why? Where? When?

My friend Diana and I plan to have lunch on Monday 5th May at "Chutneys etc"  an Indian/Mediterranean themed restaurant here in SRQ.

I checked the restaurant's  website to make sure that it is open on Mondays for lunch.

It's a lovely website, which includes an address and 'phone number together with lunch and dinner menus.

But there is not a word about  hours of business.  Not a word.

So I called the restaurant to ask about Monday hours of business  (I discovered that it is open for lunch on Mondays).

I should not have needed to make that 'phone call.

 It should have been a bit of primary information on the restaurant's website.

 The man who answered my call seemed to be a bit annoyed, and he hung up before I could suggest an "hours of business" addition to the website.

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This led me to think about Church websites.
 
I asked three questions:  Why? Where? When?

1.  Why has the website been created?    '

Is it mostly for the benefit of  existing congregants?

Or is it primarily to give information to people who are seeking a Church home, or who are looking for information about the Church services?

I'll warrant that 90% + of  visitors to the website are not existing congregants but they are visitors/strangers who are looking for information about time and place.

2.  Where is  the Church is located is  important. Church members know this.  Visitors do not.  A Google maps reference is essential

3. When does  the congregation hold Sunday services? Church members know this. It  will be a primary question for potential worshippers.

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If your parish website is primarily for the benefit of members I have no further comment.

But if it is to give welcoming information  for strangers and visitors then please make sure that your opening page majors in the address and 'phone number, AND the times of services.

If visitors and potential members have to click more than twice to find this basic and essential  information then you have already lost them.

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I  checked the websites of four congregations which I know well. Three of them were visually attractive but their front pages did not give the essential  "where and when" information. 

 The fourth (and smallest) of these congregations has a plain and simple website which has the where and when information on its opening page. (Good for St. Christopher's  in  western Massachusetts)

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