All websites need an occasional dusting off … or even rebranded and restyled. How is your church’s website? Does it look like it did ten years ago? Perhaps it’s time to improve your online image. A few years ago, XPastor went through that process. Below is the theory behind the steps we took.
Here is the criteria that we used in targeting the re-branding and the new website. This may help you as you rebrand your church or website. The need in rebranding is to focus, target and define. Focus on your main objective and write down your thoughts. Do you know what your main objectives are of your church website? What are you trying to accomplish? Your site might be informational, educational or motivational. Do you know the difference? Your church site might be artistic, straight-forward or filled with data. Target your audience and deliver content in culturally acceptable ways. Understand who you are talking to and seek to interact with them. Do you know who your target audience is with your church website? Church members? Visitors? Church folk or the unreached? Define your intent. Define how you want to deliver content and how often it needs to be updated. Define whether you need a static page from Dreamweaver or a Content Management System. Who will be able to upload new information? Who will be the editor and who will have administrative rights? The following are the four objectives that we employed in the re-branding of XPastor:
- To rebrand XPastor
- To create a user experience, targeted to the “thirty-somethings”
- To utilize a content management system
- To expand job posts and advertising
To meet these four objectives, the following criteria was developed:
1. To rebrand XPastor
- The primary target is Executive Pastors and others in similar roles and the secondary target will be all paid and volunteer leaders who make management and leadership decisions in the church.
- The organization will include the following brands under one umbrella.
- XPastor—We now have the three main domain names: www.XPastor.org, www.XPastor.com and www.XPastor.net are all redirected to the main site.
- XPastor Online Courses—The goal of the XP-Online Courses is to give a world-class education in the essentials of church leadership and management.
- XPastor Press—a micro-publishing house to showcase new and emerging authors. Two books have been published: People Patterns and Crisis Leadership.
- People Patterns—has helped hundreds of church leaders with its Indicator.
- All XPastor sites will have the same look and feel, menu structure, and color systems.
2. To create a user experience targeted to the “thirty-somethings”
- The model is a news magazine site, such as the techie site Computer World but not as complex or crowded as the New York Times or CNN
- Five years ago, few sites had dual menu systems. Now most sites have two menus, and many sites have three or four.
- Center the website on the page. Five years ago, few webs were centered, most were on the left side of the page.
- Use mechanisms, such as moveable banners on the home page, to appeal to thirty-somethings.
- Increase the presence and use of social media.
- Create a fresh look that entices the user to read more.
- Continue the use of XPastor’s distinctive chartreuse color, yet use it as a highlight color and not as a dominant color. Determine a complimentary color with Chartreuse: Peacock blue was selected.
- Design new logos. The physical presence/size of logos on websites has dramatically shrunk in the last five years, see Harvard University or Gizmodo
- Create a new navigation system with easy to read drop-down menus. The menus must be readable and clickable on laptops, smart phones and tablets.
- Have a unique user experience on iPhone and similar smart phones and iPads and other tablets. To design a website that would be device aware and reconfigure as needed.
- Improve web response speed. Google is now measuring response speed in hundredths of seconds, not tenths or whole seconds. Amazon has noted that there is a significant drop in sales when response time slows by hundredths of a second.
3. To utilize a content management system
- Get away from Dreamweaver and go with a CMS system (WordPress, Drupal or Joomla) that is web-based. This allows updating of the site from a computer, iPad or iPhone. Ads in the side bar are updated in real time whereas in Dreamweaver the entire site would have to be reloaded. Reloading the site while away from your computer is no longer problematic.
- Allow for editing the CSS.Style to reset technical formatting.
- Utilize plug-ins for new web capabilities.
- Easily add a new page to the menu system without a third-party menu program in Windows.
- Diminish the role of web developers and coders to enhance the site.
- Use “Captcha” screening on forms to decrease spam.
- Reorganize and revitalize the 500 articles on XPastor. It grew from a few articles that could be listed on one page to hundreds. It became difficult to sort and sift through the articles to find ones of similar topics.
- Expand the number of new articles received each year. This requires a content management system for the website. Allow for “non-techie users” to post articles and “non-techie administrators” to review and publish articles.
- Have form management tools for easier integration and updating of forms.
- Easily incorporate PayPal.
- The CMS system must automatically create:
- Lists of the most popular articles and comments.
- Cloud tags so that users can easily see the fifty major themes on the site.
- Include a site-based search engine.
- List all articles by author when the author’s name is clicked on.
- Suggest related articles.
4. To expand job posts and advertising
- Ads for church and non-profit jobs
- Begin to give away free text ads for any and all church and non-profit positions (250 words maximum). Any registered user may make a post, which will be approved and published by an editor.
- Continue to charge for premium ads. These well-designed ads have 4-7 images per page, attachments, and special highlighted emphases in the website and e-news.
- Increase traffic by publishing more high quality articles and posts.
- To help pay for XPastor: Ads for qualified firms
- Continue sales of ads on the right sidebar.
- Begin sales of advertising on site-specific area pages. For example, there are pages for finance, facilities and communications.
- Sponsors of the XP-Seminar will receive the right of first refusal for advertising space.