Managing your church website may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As we start the new year, check out these project management tips to help you work smarter and not harder when managing your website.
1. Assemble a team. You don't have to take on everything yourself, so consider how you can get others to help carry the load. Whether you have team members on staff or even a few volunteers available to assist, this will help with your overall workload. Make sure team members know what's expected of them, how to manage their respective areas on the website and when deliverables are due.
Some great qualities to look for when building your team are individuals with:
- a keen eye for detail
- a knack for writing, spelling and grammar
- creative talent (i.e. graphics, photography, etc)
Curating a team with these skills can really help to lighten the overall lift.
2. Setup a schedule to review and update the website. Creating a schedule to ensure information stays relevant and up to date is key. Decide what frequency works for you. This could be a weekly or biweekly schedule, but website maintenance is a must in order to keep content fresh and engaging. Utilize your team members to review and update their respective ministry areas.
Use a calendaring tool to remind you to look at key areas on your website. This includes updating the homepage to showcase what's happening at your church, adding upcoming events to your calendar and reviewing pages for any outdated content and dates.
3. Tackle what you can in advance. Why wait till the last minute? You can definitely prep ahead of time for annual events such as Christmas, Easter, VBS, etc. These times of year can get very busy, so set internal deadlines for yourself and any other ministry teams that need to provide content. Plan to have the information up on the website before it’s needed with some buffer time to allow additional team members time to review.
However, this doesn’t just have to apply to large scale events. The “Draft” option available in your website platform will allow you to create pages in advance and then schedule for them to publish on a specific date.
4. Have a backup plan. If we’ve learned anything in 2020, things don’t always go as expected. In case of an emergency, it’s a good idea for other team members to know how to do what you do. Create quick reference guides for the key areas of your job, document where account information is stored and share with other members of your team how to access support. Having these in place will help keep things afloat if you’re ever out of the office last minute.
5. Don’t over complicate things. Your website should be easy to navigate, which starts with the menu structure. A complex navigation or, conversely, one that is too sparse will make it confusing for visitors to find what they’re looking for. It’s always good to create a visual sitemap with a clear direction for the top level and sub menu items, since this will often dictate the page structure for your site. Make sure to use terminology that is easy to understand and not jargon that is only known by your regular attendees.
Your ministry pages also don’t need to include every single detail. Focus on providing an overview of the ministry, what’s happening, where to get involved and who to contact. When possible, use tools like accordion menus and tabs to organize your content so pages don’t get too lengthy.
6. Use engaging graphics. People visiting the site will want to see images that reflect community and a sense of belonging. When possible, use images that show real people, your church building and ministry activities. It’s ok to use stock images, but just make sure they are engaging and applicable to the respective pages being viewed. Part of your project management should include rotating out these graphics so your website stays fresh.
7. Get active on social media. Does your church have a presence on social media? Creating a weekly schedule to update these sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can keep your church members engaged and regularly connected to the content on your site. Consider sharing links from your website with upcoming events, recent sermons and blog posts from your pastoral staff.
8. Setup annual reminders for account renewals. You don’t want to get into a situation where your domain or SSL certificate lapses, so make sure to set annual calendar reminders to check your domain status as well as other accounts related to your website, so these stay up to date. It’s a good idea to have at least two individuals identified as administrators with access to these accounts in case someone is not available when needed.
Did we miss any project management strategies that you have found useful? Feel free to share additional ideas below.