Six Steps to Decide if You Need a New Website

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on April 9, 2013

in website

Does-your-website-answer2If your parish, diocesan, religious community, or ministry website is more than 5 years old, it is time to ask if you need a new one. A few weeks ago, I wrote about website content vs. design and stressed the importance of identifying your intended audiences and determining what they want from you and what you want to give them.

In addition to that exercise, it is very worthwhile to look at the websites of your peers. Here is a simple method that I use with clients to help them broaden their perspectives about websites.

  1. Identify at least five stakeholders for your website. These are the people in your organization or ministry who benefit from an effective website: ministry leaders, service groups, departments, program managers, etc.
  2. Select 5 or 6 peer websites (you can ask the stakeholders for suggestions) to review.
  3. Ask the stakeholders to review each website by answering in writing these questions (It helps if you give them a form.):

1. Using a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent, rate

  1. overall appearance of the home page
  2. navigation (ease of use)
  3. engagement of the visitor (suggests action steps such as subscribe, request, view, donate, follow, etc.)
  4. integration with social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)
  5. currency (Is it up to date?)
  6. content (Does it welcome, educate and engage visitors?)

2. Then ask them to answer these three questions:

  • What do you like best about the website?
  • What do you like least about the website?
  • What else would you like to say about the website?

4. Collect the answers. Average the ratings and combine the likes, dislikes and other comments.
5. Share and discuss the report with the stakeholders.
6. Discuss how your current website would have fared in the same process relative to the other websites you reviewed.

This discussion will help you to answer the question of whether you need a new website or not and it will lay the groundwork for developing content and engagement strategies for your new website if that is what is needed.

What have you used to help your stakeholders think more broadly and creatively about your website? Do you think that this exercise would be helpful in that effort? What would you add or change?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Therese Boucher April 9, 2013 at 7:58 am

This certainly challenges me to think of our websites as more of a communal venture than I have in the past.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND April 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

You make a good point, Therese. When working with any organization or group, it is very important to identify stakeholders and engage them in the website conversation and planning process. That is the best way to be inclusive internally. Just as important, their diverse insights will help you to attend to the needs of all of your audiences.

Teri April 9, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thanks for helping me feel we’re on the right track with our redesign project! Our committee talked about content first and later examined sites of other communities so we could see features we liked and others we could live without. We also asked a couple of staff members from our sponsored schools to be on our committee so they could offer their views – since they represent audiences that are important to us. Their insight was very helpful and fresh.

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