During the year, you may find yourself lucky enough to have a bit of a slow period to do some new projects for your church website. Every year is a bit different, but we suggest trying this project during the summer or the time between Christmas and Easter. But no matter when, it's important to keep your website fresh and up to date. For anyone looking to make big changes to their church website in a short amount of time, you’ve come to the right place to start.
We’ve written a big, comprehensive 8-week plan for anyone ready to make any huge overhauls to their church website. 8 weeks is a bold goal for even the best church communicators and directors. Feel free to adjust this model as much or as little as you’d like—you might take 5 weeks or 12 weeks, and there are some steps your church might not need.
Whatever your timeline is, just be ready to work—this church website overhaul is gonna be exciting!
Week 1: Prioritize and Plan
We might have recommendations for goals, but only you can determine your ultimate goal.
Is it the goal of your church website to bring in new members? To make it easier to connect? To increase small group engagement? To promote events happening later this year? No matter what your goal, it's really up to you. These might all sound like pretty lofty goals, but when you're doing a website overhaul, it shouldn't be your goal to simply "clean up" your website. It should be something like "launch capital campaign by Q3 of this year" or "help new visitors feel welcome on their second and third visit." We can't write your specifics -- only you can do that.
If you need goal-setting help and you also need something that will provide direction and help you to be clear about what you want to accomplish, try making SMART goals. These types of goals are:
Setting SMART goals will force you to come up with a plan of action, which is perfect for an 8-week plan to overhaul your church website. Setting SMART goals also work great for introducing new tools to your church website or a new campaign.
Besides setting goals, the prioritizing and planning stage is also the time to delegate to your small team. You want to make sure you all share a common goal (don’t do all this behind your staff’s back!) Only you know how your team works—if it’s helpful to create timelines and deadlines, this is the time to give them.
Week 2: Audit
It's important to carefully inspect and examine your current church website so that you can see what you already have that will help you reach your goals. This is also the time to find any holes and opportunities before you start doing the hard work. Here are some great questions to ask while you're doing all this digging:
- How functional is the website overall?
- Does the website contain any error messages or broken links?
- How accessible is the website on other devices like Smartphones and tablets?
- How easy is it for visitors to navigate?
One word of caution - don't underestimate how much work it takes to look through all your content.
If you’re a big church, you might have a lot of information to sift through. During the audit process, you might discover that you'll need to have someone build a new feature or functionality for your church website. If this is the case, now is the time to tell that team to get ready for it.
Week 3-4: Repurpose Your Content
You have most likely heard about how much people love to reuse and repurpose things, like turning an old ladder into a bookshelf or old pallets into coffee tables. But did you know you can repurpose your web content, too? These two weeks are the perfect time to repurpose your existing content.
Old blog posts can become shiny new infographics or turned into videos. Photos once scattered throughout your website can become fun slideshows. Other information and content can be transformed into SlideShare decks.
But don't repurpose your content just for the sake of doing so. Try to think of how you can reuse old content in a way that adds value to your congregation. For example, did you have a great sermon series from the beginning of the year that you can finally make into a new video or blog series?
Week 5-6: Create New Content
This is the time to create brand new page content, blog posts, etc. This is also the time you're probably going to have to request more from your creative team. Maybe you need a new video made or updated photographs taken. Don't worry, this shouldn't come as a surprise to them if you ask, because you should have already told them about it during weeks 1 and 2 when you made the plan!
Have you been wanting to make a welcome video from your pastor? This would be the time to do it. These two weeks are also a great time to think about putting together those new church website pages you've been wanting to add. These might include a church staff profile page or a website page that offers information regarding what visitors can expect when attending your church for the first time.
Week 7: Audit and/or Launch Social Media
You're going to have to determine who will be in charge of creating/curating social content to promote your goal.
Are you late to the Twitter party? You'll want set up an account. If you want to take optimum advantage of social media, you'll want to post often, but not too often. You want to use social media to promote your church, engage members, and attract visitors. If you post too much too often, you'll end up turning people away.
Social media professionals recommend:
- 3 Twitter posts per day
- 2 Facebook posts per day
- An average of 1.5 times per day on Instagram
To keep up with your social media, there are many ways you can automate your content publish dates.
Automation is a great way to plan your social media dates for the next week, or even the next month. Creating all of your content at once allows you to post consistently and you won't feel pressured to come up with something new every single day. You can also schedule other social media content including sharing tweets, photos for Instagram, encouraging Bible verses, and pre-written blog posts.
Week 8: Test Your Launch
Last, but certainly not least, you'll want to review everything and make sure it’s all in order. This is the week for last-minute fixes. Make sure your branding is consistent. Double-check social timing.
This is also the time to tell your congregation about finishing your big project. “Hey everyone! Go check out this thing we've been working really hard on!” All your measuring tools should be put into place as well so that you can figure out how to measure your goals and metrics from your original SMART goals.