Here is something I have realized: if you are a church or school in 2010 and your website doesn't reflect that it's 2010, do not expect my family to give you an opportunity to meet our needs otherwise.
And, being a further snob, I'll tell you (as a church) you NEED our family in your midst, oh, yes, you do. Okay, a school does, too, but school families who will be involved are a dime a dozen. Church families who will be involved... not so much. Evidently, they are all too busy being involved at school. Troy is a great administrator in things he gets involved in at church, gorgeous voice for singing, I take my turn teaching Sunday school, and my kids will make your youth ministry look good. They are leaders among their peers and sweet kids, befriending kids of all shapes and sizes. And... yeah, you want to know... of course we give on a regular basis. We are your model church family.
But if I move to my new (undetermined) town and am scouting out churches and pull up your website and it has (only) an article by the preacher, pictures of the staff, and service times and location... pass. That is a 2003 website.
I started thinking about this when a Facebook friend also recently relocated and mentioned that she had placed membership at The Happy Sunshine Church (*not actual name of congregation). Since my friend had relocated in North America, and we will probably relocate somewhere in North America, I thought I would scope out The Happy Sunshine Church. One can never be too prepared.
Um... yeah. Won't be going there. Pulled up the 'youth' page: a gray box with the word: 'testing' in the middle of it. Pulled up the youth calendar: same gray 'testing box'. They did have a super-secret, password-only member-only section, but I wasn't invited into that... My part was gray and 'testing'... And I was becoming 'testy'... Their WORDS said, "We would LOVE to have you visit us and you can find us at this location." Their website said, "You aren't worth the effort."
Yes, I do Facebook and Twitter, too, but I'm not being adamant about that. By the year 2000, once we all figured out that the lights were going to stay on after the Y2K scare, your church should have figured out, "Hey! I think this internet thing is going to stick around. We may need us a world wide internet address for our church."
Granted, MOST churches have seen the need for a website... but that is all. It's time to move past the year 2000, and let your website be an active place of outreach for your congregation, as well as a place to communicate with your members. If you'll notice, people now have the internet on their phone, at their kitchen table, at McDonald's and Starbuck's... they may be wondering where they are going to church on Sunday, and if the children's ministry is any more than coloring pages and 'testing'. What is your church communicating?
I think the church where I worship does a fairly good job of this (and in about 2 more weeks we will be unveiling a new, improved site that will be even better -- SO EXCITED!) I was blessed to work with the team that helped create the new site, and spent some time scouting out other church sites. I saw entirely too many church calendars set at October, 2006, or some other such random date when the website was created. If it isn't current, it's useless.
I think another local church has an awesome website as well.
If you are reading this and nodding and wishing your church had something like this, let me direct you to The Marketing Twins, Randy and Donny Vaughn. Troy and I were in school with Randy and Donny and they could totally hook you up with a website.
I mentioned schools, but I will say that since we are currently a public school family, most school districts do a GREAT job of communicating online, keeping calendars current, having a place to check grades, etc. If we move to a place where I feel that private schools are our best option, the website will be a key indicator as to the academic and technological capability of the school.
So... that is my techno-rant for today. Do you have website peeves? Would love to hear them.