Will Rice says church websites become out of date because people in the know stop paying attention. It takes a fresh set of eyes to point out what’s missing and what needs to be refreshed.
I visited the website of a large church recently. I was looking for information on a special worship service they were having the next day. It wasn’t there. As I started looking around, I realized a lot of information was out of date. More than that, the entire site was dated. It looked like it was state of the art five years ago. Since then, apparently, not only had it not received an overall update, very little attention was being paid to it.
Outsiders notice things we no longer can see.
Churches never decide to stop updating their websites. They may decide not to go through the cost or effort of a full redesign but that is not normally the issue. The website paint just starts peeling and nobody really notices.
Consultants and any outsiders can serve an essential role for churches. They point out things we can’t see any more. Often the most pressing need listed in a church consultation report is the need to paint. Seriously. Very few churches decide not to paint. Admittedly, there are some who don’t want to spend the money or simply don’t have it. Most just don’t notice that there is a need for paint.
Churches never decide to stop updating their websites. The website paint just starts peeling and nobody really notices.
It is not just churches. A few years back, I changed providers for my homeowner’s insurance. The underwriter sent out an agent to inspect the house. A week later, I got a letter explaining that my insurance would be canceled if I didn’t make repairs. They sent photos of the back of my house showing that the paint had peeled off the trim leaving bare wood. Seriously, I spent a lot of time back there. Did I ever notice that all the paint had peeled off? No, I didn’t. Paint doesn’t fall off in sheets. It flecks off slowly. So slowly that you don’t even notice it until someone points it out.
Your website is your new front door.
What does paint have to do with websites? A church’s website is its new front door. In many ways, it is the lobby and welcome center. People make a lot of decisions about your church before they ever drive into the parking lot. Just as fresh paint communicates a lot to a new visitor, so does an up-to-date website. Unfortunately, many people will never see the walls or trim in your church. They may never get beyond your website where the events calendar features a special Easter service from last year, the photo gallery’s latest pictures are from the 2014 youth summer trip, the latest posted newsletter is from four months ago, and many pages will not display properly on mobile devices.
A new set of eyes
You need another set of eyes. The good news is, it doesn’t have to cost you any money. Ask someone to look at your church’s website. Find someone who doesn’t go to your church and ask them to tell you what they see. Find one of those friends that is a little nit-picky. We all have a friend like that. They may be the one who lets you know you need to paint your trim.
Will Rice blogs on issues related to helping local congregations reach their communities at pastorwill.net. This article is adapted from that blog and used by permission.