Over the next few months, I will be working on a resource to help parishes redesign or design their websites for mission. Just having a website is not the ultimate goal of our online presence. We need to have a mission-focused website. In my research on parish websites, I have discovered that there is very little guidance to help parishes to do this well and very few good examples to help parish leaders see what is possible.
The importance of websites has evolved as technology has advanced. People expect more from the parish website today. What was “great” a few years ago, can be mediocre today. It is hard to keep up with this constantly changing field especially if you are involved in other full-time ministry. This is understandable, but we cannot accept the status quo. We have to learn how to create, produce and maintain quality, mission-focused websites.
With an understanding of the process involved and clear guidelines or recommendations for what is essential, effective and practical for a mission-based website, I believe that parishes can do a much better job with their websites. I am putting together a resource that will contribute to that understanding.
Recently a reader wrote:
My work involves putting the parish bulletin together for publishing and maintaining the parish website and Facebook page. We have had the current website for the last 4 years. We use WordPress and it is hosted with GoDaddy. I would like to update the theme and have started looking at themes available through WordPress. Since this is the first time for me, I am not completely sure how to decide which “designer” to choose, especially if we need to pay for the theme. I am concerned about support for the theme should a problem or concern arises. I would like to find a theme designer who supports Catholic organizations, if possible. I would have to say that my expertise with websites is at an intermediate level. I can do all the basics of adding pages, reordering pages, adding links, etc. I just don’t know a lot about the setting up a website from scratch or how to “transfer” a website to a new theme.
This parish is fortunate to have someone who has technical expertise and who recognizes that there is more to learn. These are very good questions and I hope to provide her and others in the same situation help in coming to the right decisions for their particular parish in my new resource.
If you have any questions that you would like answered in this new resource, please put them in the comments below. I want this resource to meet real needs. This will not be a technical course (i.e.how to upload an image), but it will be how to plan your site, create a mission focus and work with a designer to present your community in an attractive way and to carry out its mission effectively. And to be clear, the mission is the proclamation of the Gospel and the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. We do that by being joyful witnesses and humble servants everywhere including on our websites.
I have not decided yet what is the best format for this resource. You can help me do that by completing the one-question poll below. If you know people who would be interested in this resource, please share the poll with them, so that I get their input. If you think they may have questions to be covered, please share this post with them as well. Thank you very much.