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:
- Study the Audience
- Plan the Project
- Plan and Create Content
- Focus on Findability
- Design the Site
- Code the Front End
- Configure the Back End
- Cleanup, Test, and Launch
- Rollout Post-launch Deliverables
A couple of things to point out about our approach on this project:
- The phases above are for the most part listed sequentially in the order in which they began, but this does not imply a stoppage of one phase prior to the next phase beginning. For instance, Content Creation and Back End Configuration continued until we moved into the Cleanup phase.
- We put in a heap of time studying our users and our communications needs before defining the scope, budget, and milestones.
- The first three phases are what makes or breaks a site. Without solid execution in those phases, everyone from executive staff on down will be displeased with some part of the outcome. We dove into the actual web design and site construction only after all stakeholders were in agreement about where we were headed.
As I have said, our approach on this project is not the only one or necessarily the best approach for your organization. Each project should take on a life of its own. Over the next week I will be posting an entry for each phase, so feel free to comment about what has worked for your church web projects under the relevant blog post.