Many times, church websites are frustratingly out of date and the information is stale and irrelevant. I’ve seen church sites that still have event calendars from 2009 and earlier, and the latest blog posts are even older! The internet makes it easy to create and display content, but keeping it current is a very important and sometimes time-consuming task. Here are a few things to consider as you review your website’s content for freshness:
One of the things that churches often do is start a blog page, and then not keep up with it. Many church websites from churches all over the country have a few blog entries dating from two and three years ago, and nothing since. It isn’t necessary to update on a daily, or even weekly basis, but an occasional post once or twice a month shows that you’re involved with the website, and content being indexed by major search engines can draw interested readers to your site and connect you with other like-minded people.
Sometimes even contact information is out of date on websites. Considering that people have very few ways to find your church, short of calling (and that’s assuming that the contact number works!), it’s imperative that the information on the website is up to date. As I mentioned in my post on what people are looking for, make sure that you keep the contact information current, but simple. Some church websites have had two or three different pages for location information, with a map on one page, step-by-step directions on another, and the address on a third! Keep all of this grouped together on one page so it’s easier to update if that becomes necessary.
Embedded calendars are very handy for keeping track of church events, especially if your church has a lot going on. An easy way to do it is to have all of the church events listed on a Google Calendar, and then embed the calendar into your website. The administrator can control which information gets displayed, and as long as the calendar itself is updated, the website is always current! It’s best not to rely on manually uploading a picture of the calendar every month. It’s much better to have all of the information in one place, and then print the calendar as the new month approaches.
The absolute worst part of church websites for updates is inevitably the ministry list. Typically there are very few details given for each program, and more often than not, if a page has already been created, it’s “Under Construction.” (If I had a dollar for every time I saw that…) If you are going to have a page, it’s important to have useful information on that page. A couple of pictures, a paragraph or two of descriptive text, and a link to another relevant page on your site isn’t a lot, but it makes the page useful. If you have a children’s ministry, consider putting up a picture of the folks responsible for overseeing it. For a youth group page, include a couple of fun pictures from a recent activity. Let people see what your ministries are about; that’s a lot more useful than just a list of what’s going on.
Keeping current takes some effort, which is why many churches have someone in the church that handles the website. But if you’re going to have a website, and these days it’s a must, then the time that the site takes is important, and shouldn’t be overlooked.