for Church Webmasters
Issue 25 9/3/03
we are working on our websites we often think of the effort, money and hours
that go into designing a page or site. There’s the graphics, maybe some are
purchased, or maybe we hunted for hours through the “free” sites out there
looking for just the right image. There’s the page backgrounds and effort
involved in finding just the right one. There’s the church logo or
denomination logo that we want to be just so. Maybe we have pictures of the
church staff or church family on the page and there’s all the work that went
into convincing those folks to pose for the camera and editing the images for
the website. Then there is the page layout itself. We have to make decisions
about 1 column, 2 columns or 3 columns. We have to make a navigation scheme and
keep it updated for all the pages. We need to make a decision about guestbooks,
counters, webrings and a 1000 other small things. Whew! I get tired just
thinking about it.
the one thing that we often don’t think about is the cost of our content. How
much time and effort is spent on the words of the webpage? Let’s face
it, most people don’t come to our site for any of the items in the above
paragraph. They are there for the content. So how much effort do we put into it?
the following scenario:
A church is going to start a website. They put together a team (can’t bring myself to use the word committee) and start working on the site. There are many meetings about the colors, the fonts, the images and maybe they even talk about what ministries of the church need web pages. But when it gets time to talking about the content of the pages it is decided to just talk to the ministry leaders get the information from them. The team basically bails on the most important part!!! I’ve seen this happen time and time again. Now it is left up to the one or two people (Joe and Judy Webmasters for our example) who are actually doing the site to come up with all the content. So they track down all the ministry leaders and ask them for something for the website. Of course the ministry leaders are all busy too and some don’t have time or forget and have to be nagged, ummm, reminded to provide something. The ministry leaders probably have no idea exactly what to provide either. They weren’t present at any of the planning meetings are entering into this project cold turkey. So they provide all sorts of different types of content written in different styles.
in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles, eventually our persistent
webmasters, Joe and Judy, have something from all the ministry leaders or they
have given up and just hacked something out themselves. So Joe and Judy copy and
paste out of the emails and word documents into the HTML and presto – they
have content. Joe and Judy can now go out and celebrate with a dinner about a
completed job. Something is nagging at the back of Judy Webmasters mind, like
something is wrong. But she just can’t put her finger on it and decides just
to have a good time that evening with Joe.
this scenario (which is fairly common), the content is not all that great and is
probably down right lousy. There is no consistency between the writing styles,
there are typos, it’s not carefully proof read and edited. No one took the
time to make sure what was written made any sense to anyone outside of the
church. There are terms and acronyms that are meaningless to anyone who doesn’t
attend church there. And once the content is there, it never changes. It is
stagnate. What went wrong? After all, we had two great dedicated people working
on the site. They love their church, so what’s the problem? And furthermore,
why bother should we bother with all the design issues if we can’t get the
content to be decent?
content (the words on the page) is the most important thing on your site. Treat
it that way! Here’s a suggested plan for making sure the content is top notch.
matters not whether you are working on a huge site with a big team or whether
you are a one-person web team, your content needs to be given proper time and
effort to get it right.
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the fine print…
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It would be way cool if you could mention this resource
somewhere on your web page! You can link to “Help for Church Webmasters” at http://www.downeychurch.com/HelpForChurchWebmasters.html