After all the preparation and work involved in the development of a new parish website, launch day brings a great sense of accomplishment. “We did it! Congratulations! Now what?”
The next phase for your website will last three to five years. Its success depends on how you manage your site going forward. Unfortunately, some beautiful parish websites deteriorate in less time than it took to build them-because they have been abandoned or all the principles upon which they were built have been forgotten. Don’t let that happen to your website.
Tips to Maintain Your New Website
Here are some tips for keeping your new website as attractive and interesting as on the day it was launched:
- See the layout and the design as a template where new content needs to fit, that is, stay within the spaces allotted, using the same colors, fonts and punctuation. Forcing content into space that it was not intended for or introducing new colors or fonts can ruin a home page.
- If you have images on your home page and interior pages, be sure the designer gives you the dimensions of all of those image spaces. Size the new images you post accordingly.
- Content is still the most important element on the Home Page.
- The calendar needs to be kept up to date. I have been surprised to see more than one parish website with error notices on their calendar because there are no more events listed.
- If parish bulletins are posted, the current one needs to be there.
- If social media widgets are streaming Facebook or Twitter feeds, those social media sites need to be active.
- If a parish news feed is part of the home page—articles need to be current. Visitors who see posts that are weeks or months old suspect that no one is attending the site or not much is going on in the parish.
- If a parish uses seasonal photos in its photo gallery, those photos have to be current. If the photos are not seasonal, but people focused—they do not have to be changed as often. But all photos need to be good quality.
- If the daily or weekend Mass schedule changes in Lent or Advent, be sure those changes appear on the website during those seasons.
- Acknowledge in a special way the three days in the year that get the most visits from active members, inactive members and other visitors: Christmas, Ash Wednesday and Easter. Let them know the Mass times and that they are welcome!
- Review the interior pages at least once a year to be sure that all content is up to date.
- If you have a directory of organizations and ministries which includes names and contact information, be sure that information is up to date.
- Be sure that the person or persons responsible for maintaining your website going forward receive the training and/or documentation needed to do it correctly.
If, after you have launched a new website and used it for a while, you discover that you did not provide space on the Home Page for a type of content that you will want to post at various times throughout the year, for example videos or a blog—go back to your designer and find out what can be done. It is best to think of these things before the site is launched, but if you didn’t do that, the next best thing is to work with the designer to get the changes made
Maintain your website so that all visitors know that welcoming them and meeting their needs is a priority of this parish.
How Long Can You Stay with This Website?
How long before you will need to go through this process again? Think three to five years. Your parish will change in that time. Technology will change and the needs and priorities of your visitors may change. True missionaries respond to the needs of the times and the people they serve. That same principle applies to our mission-focused websites.
Share Your Thoughts
This is the final post of the series Making a Website Work for You. I hope it was helpful. Your comments on this post or the entire series are welcome below. If you prefer to comment to me directly, you can use this form.