Month: May 2007

To Build a Church Web Site: Plan the Project

This entry is part of a series on building church websites. Check out the first post.

Require Project Sponsorship and Involved Stakeholders
Having fought through a number of IT projects in the past without executive sponsorship and involved stakeholders, I don’t think I would do it again. It isn’t fair to the team of people who are working so hard to get the site built. If the project isn’t important enough to the organization that an executive or Elder needs to oversee it, then the web project has a low opportunity for success and the outcome will be poor. When we say “executive sponsorship”, we aren’t just saying a dictum or decree is handed down that all staff will cooperate so the site gets built. We are saying that a) this individual is accountable to others for the projects success, b) he/she is engaged in every phase, and c) the person is clearing roadblocks for the web team that they can’t clear themselves.

Posted in Design, Programming, Web Ministry, Writing

To Build a Church Web Site: Study the Audience

This entry is part of a series on building church websites. Check out the first post.

Know Your Users

There is a temptation with church people to try and reach everyone all of the time. Some churches egocentrically want everyone to be *their* audience. As a result, Church Marketing Sucks. Knowing and prioritizing your users will get you further than any other single thing you can do on a web project. When you have been diligent in this phase, hard decisions during the stretch become much more simple. Don’t allow your project to move forward until you know the secrets your users aren’t telling.

Church Mission and Vision

In some cases, your churches mission and vision will put you a long way down the road of knowing who you are building the site for. Our mission actually uses the language “All People”, so we did not have the luxury of being handed our target audience. We had to put together a cross-departmental team to profile our audience segments and decide who we would focus the site on. You might be surprised to find out, “the lost” won’t cut it as a target audience.

Posted in Design, Programming, Web Ministry, Writing

To Build a Church Web Site

When our church decided to launch the 3.0 version of our site, we knew it would be a serious effort. As “the web guy”, my charge was to be the glue that holds the pieces of the project together. There are numerous how-tos available for churches who are just getting started with their sites. My hope in this series on how to build a church web site is to share our story in a way that could help someone who already has experience in building sites and could learn from our approach.

Some statistics suggest that as high as 60% of all IT projects fail. With the added difficulty of getting IT things done in non-profit organizations, the challenge may have actually been a bit bigger for us. I am of the opinion that each project requires its own path. This path is largely determined by the goals and size of the project, the length of time for project completion, and the budget. A single approach won’t work for every web project.

Our project was really broken into these phases:

Posted in Design, Programming, Web Ministry, Writing

Stonebriar’s Redesign

I may say more about the recent redesign of Stonebriar Community Church in the coming days, but I wanted to let everyone know the site is live now. Nathan Smith has a little write-up on it. Already some good feedback on how we can improve things. If you find problems, there is a link in the lower-left corner labeled “Problems with the site?”. Click it. Use it. I am taking off for a few days to rest, but afterward may write more about my involvement as the PM and IA guy. I learned a lot from Nathan, Chris, and David.

By the way, I work full-time for Stonebriar and this redesign project was one I managed on company time with company resources. That said, they don’t have anything to do with this blog, and all commentary is my own. There is no policy on blogging (thank goodness), but if they had one, it would include them wanting me to let you know these comments and discussions are not necessarily representative of the church. Like any employee of any company, I have my own beliefs, perspectives, passions, and druthers. I speak out of a freedom of speech which still has to be in check with what is responsible given my association with the organization. Just wanted to make sure all of you knew this BSpotted blog and site are done on my own time. I will put something more official sounding in my bio soon to this same regard, but with all the new web traffic I thought I should clarify.

Posted in Design, Web Ministry, Writing