Church Websites: The Key to Relevancy

by Jeffrey Pearson

“The list of components that go into a successful website is extensive. Ultimately though, at the base of any successful website is one thing: relevancy. It is the single most important part of enhancing an online presence.” 

- Luke Frederick, Owner – Sheepish Design

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Why Relevancy? Well, why do ministry members visit a website?

People visit a ministry website for a couple primary reasons:

The first reason is that they simply want information. The thing is, they don’t want just any information. They want to know what is relevant and timely in your minstry at the time they are visiting the site. Think about news. The same concept applies. The number of people that read a breaking news article will be significantly higher than the number of people that read an article that is two weeks old. A website will only draw in users so long as it presents information that is of interest.

Another reason ministry members visit a website is to connect with other members. This could be anything from looking up contact information for staff members to using social media that are incorporated on the site. Through these media they can have a conversation with employees or other congregation members. Regardless, updates to the site are necessary for ministry members to be able to connect effectively.  That is why achieving relevancy has to be the top priority for a website manager. 

Achieving relevancy on a website is not hard to do. By following some easy steps, you can almost guarantee you will bolster the effectiveness of your site with a high level of relevancy. 

Here are the keys to relevancy:

  • Custom Design: Your ministry is unique. There is no reason why your website shouldn’t be also. The website reflects the values and mission of your ministries. It conveys the beauty of your buildings, the passion of your members and the traditions of your Church. 
  • Trained Staff: The online realm and your ministry are constantly changing. Your website has to adjust with changes as well. Trained ministry employees and volunteers will be capable of making the necessary changes on the website. Maximizing the number of people that can make these necessary changes will increase the flexibility of what can be done with the website. 
  • Keep it up-to-date: As mentioned, your ministry is constantly changing. Consequently, the website needs to be altered frequently as well if it is to properly reflect the current situation in your ministry. With a trained staff, it is easier to keep your website up-to-date. 

We feel empowering ministry employees in website management is important. This is one of our passions. Check out our solution, we call it BlendFive.

These steps are vital for the success of a ministry website. They require actions that any ministry can easily take. They will help attain online relevance.

How We Can Connect with Today's Youth

by Jeffrey Pearson

The youth. Saying it is sometimes hard to connect with them is an understatement. For adults, kids can sometimes be a bit of a mystery. One thing is certain though. The world our kids are growing up in presents a stark contrast to what older generations are accustomed to. This idea is particularly palpable in the realm of technology. 


Chris Hudson does a great job explaining the massive gap that exists between generations and the experience they have with technology.

The fact is, in order to connect with youth, a leader needs to utilize areas of familiarity among the youth. Put the ball in their court so to speak. So, what should youth leaders utilize to connect with youth? The answer, a well constructed ministry website that incorporates social media.

There has been an increase of social media use by churches, which indicates a rising awareness about the influence, and power social media can have.

As the awareness and prevalence of social media increase, they have become an influential way to connect with the youth.

By connecting, engaging and meeting the youth where they are, social media can be an extremely valuable communications too.

 But what does this have to do with a good website? Well, your website acts as the foundation and cornerstone of all of your communications tasks. It’s the one platform that you have complete control over. This centralized platform, and its incorporation of social media is extremely valuable to connecting with youth. Have you thought about how you can control the message and hub of your communications? Well, check out BlendFive. Lets increase relevance and engagement with both the website and social media. It must be both. 

A Rock Solid Foundation: Maintaining Your Ministry Website

by Jeffrey Pearson

We are living in a time in which a digital presence is vital for virtually any organization. Churches are no exception. Churches now realize a website is an important piece of their communication effort. Something common among many Churches is the need to consider budget constraints when deciding how to go about creating their website.  


What is the course of action taken by many Churches as a result of this factor? Some Churches have a volunteer from their congregation work on the website. Others have an existing staff member build a site. A volunteer usually does the work pro bono. A ministry employee is already being paid and therefore money doesn’t have to be spent on outside labor. Either way, the Church is saving money. This may seem like a great option initially, but it is often ineffective and unsustainable over time.   


On the front end, there is the initial website build which is very important. After that ,however, constant work is still needed to be intentional and relevant with the website. As your Church continues to change, so should your website.  Changes and updates are always necessary. Herein lies the root of certain long-term issues with the aforementioned system. 

 

What if the volunteer that built the site is no longer a member of the congregation? What if the employee tasked with managing the site no longer works at the Church?  What if the individual is far too busy to give the site the constant attention it needs? This is often what happens to Churches. The website is neglected. Then, after a delay, a new person attempts to make changes and updates to the site, but it is far too difficult without the original creator present. Continuity becomes a stiff challenge.

 

We pride ourselves on relationship building at Sheepish Design. When we work with Churches, we don’t want to just give them a site we built. We want to provide the service and expertise necessary to ensure the Churches we work with have a great website with no lapses in timely, relevant material. We strive to be the rock solid foundation from which Churches can derive stability in their online communication effort. No matter what is changing in the Church, we want to be the presence that can be constantly leaned on to help with the digital presence. 

A Progressive Ministry Website Solution

by Jeffrey Pearson

“Churches are in a unique situation. Like any organization, their websites need to be used as a primary communication tool, but they are faced with certain challenges other organizations don’t encounter. When it became clear the traditional method of website management could be improved, we crafted BlendFive to help ministries address these challenges and enhance their online presence.”


  • Luke Frederick, Owner – Sheepish Design



Ministries often find themselves stuck when it comes to their websites. That is because many churches are still following the traditional model of the Church website market.            


The Traditional Market: Right now churches simply shell out a large lump sum of money to receive a custom website. While these websites are often of quality right after their construction, there is no ongoing support, maintenance, etc. With time, this will lead to a gradual decline in relevancy that ultimately results in a website that must be scrapped completely and replaced with a new one. In short, many Churches are spending a lot of money on websites that are slowly worsening and are likely to have a short shelf life.


Time has proven that many Churches would benefit from a change in the way they manage their websites. There are certain needs, requirements and desires that simply must be met. This is our solution.

  1. Custom Website: Your ministry is unique. Your website should be too. 
  2. Ongoing Design: Keeping your website relevant month to month.
  3. Consulting: Our team can help you set and analyze communications goals.
  4. Training: Our certification program will empower your employees. 
  5. Support: Our team is available whenever you need assistance. 


We wanted to take a proactive approach with websites rather than be reactive. There is no reason to wait for website issues to occur and then fix them. By updating the website on a regular basis, your ministry can greatly minimize the number of website issues that arise by doing what is necessary before they occur. Click to find out how our solution supports this approach.     


From a budget standpoint, rather than spending thousands of dollars up front, money should be spent over time to ensure your ministry is constantly getting the most out of its website. Not only does this lead to a superior website build, but it increases the value of each dollar spent. As you know, ministry budgets are often limited so it’s important to be frugal and strategic regarding the spending; especially in regards to the website. 


Church websites should be about an ongoing relationship, not a transaction.

Seven Essential Tools for a Project Manager

by Julia Wiersum

Efficiency is one of my main goals as the PM of a small but fast-paced and successful web design agency. For me, efficiency means speed while compromising neither the sanity of my co-workers nor the quality of our projects. Here are 7 essential tricks and tools that I use on a daily basis to help me do my job well.

1. Alfred: the essential speed tool

Named after Batman’s butler, Alfred basically does anything you ask him to do—and fast. It is a free productivity app that allows you to open files, documents, websites, and applications in a fraction of a second with a few quick keystrokes. You can choose your own shortcut (mine is “option + a”) and then type in the name of a file or application. Then press Enter. If I need to open my browser, I type “option + a + ch + Enter” and I’ve opened Chrome without using my mouse. The same goes for documents. Alfred gets accustomed to what you command most frequently, so I often only need to type in the first few letters of my request. If I am on the phone with a client and they begin talking about their wireframe, I can have it up in 5 seconds. I consider Alfred a true necessity. 

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2. Google Docs: the essential organization tool

Although I really only have one Google Doc that I use consistently, I still must attribute much of the timeliness of our tasks and projects to my “Progress” doc. I currently manage about 60 projects, about 28 of which are active (pre-launch,) and this Google spreadsheet helps me keep track of every step along the way. One of my favorite features: conditional formatting.

Conditional formatting allows you to set keywords as indicators for the background of cells to become a certain color. Whenever I type “Done” in any given cell, the background changes to a bright green. As I have more of these bright green cells lined up, I have a visual representation of the progress of my project. See below.

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3. GoToMeeting: the essential training tool

I am fortunate to be able to train my clients in on how to use their brand new Squarespace website. Only a small percentage of our clients are local, so what am I supposed to do about the clients in another state, or even in another country thousands of miles away? I love GoToMeeting because I can share my screen and voice with these clients as if they were with me in our office space. Whether my clients are hands-on, visual, or audio learners, GoToMeeting gets the job done. Clients may see my screen and hear my voice in real time. While that is happening, they may also open up the backend of their website and work alongside me. 


4. Basecamp: the essential task-delegating tool

I don’t know what we would do without Basecamp. Basecamp is mainly a communication tool that allows us to send messages files and tasks between team members. Doesn’t email do that too? Well… yes and no. Sure, we can send messages, files, and tasks to each other, but Basecamp sorts task by project and sub-project (or “metaproject,”) and includes due dates and checkboxes. Tasks go away once they are checked off (but are kind of archived so that you can revisit them if necessary). It is also a hub of completed files and a great way to share raw files for other team members to work with. 

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5. Chrome: the essential shortcutting tool

Chrome remembers your most-visited sites across all computers while you’re using the same account. This is especially helpful as I manage clients’ websites and often work from multiple computers. If any client calls, no matter what computer I’m using, I can always have their website up in a second.

Google Chrome is the fastest, most compatible and shortcut-friendly browser. Compatible? That just means that more websites are going to work more smoothly on Chrome because it has been optimized to accommodate more features than other browsers. Another thing that sets Chrome apart is that the URL bar doubles as Google. So if you type a phrase rather than a URL, it will automatically display Google search results. Also, I love the super-simplified bookmark bar that allows you to drag-and-drop.

6. The Legal Pad: the essential keep-track-of-everything tool

I am a hands-on, tactile person—so I love to write things out and see my hands make letters, lists, and checkmarks. (I also love painting, pottery, cooking, rock climbing, and petting cats... yeah all that hands-on type stuff.) And it just feels so good to check something off of a to-do list! I’m also a huge fan of having a physical copy as well as a digital copy of a checklist. Physical checklists allow you to put everything in one place as well as actually check things off with a pen. Plus, you get to draw cool animals and stuff on them. 

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Well… You can buy your legal pads... 

7. Spotify + Earbuds: the essential zoning tool

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Last but certainly not least… sometimes you just need to tune out and zone in on stuff. I like my little Skullcandy earbuds and have invested in Spotify Premium for $10/month. 

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I can't imagine a workday without one of these essential seven tools. I believe each one of these is key to success!

  • speed
  • organization
  • training
  • task-delegating
  • shortcutting
  • keep-track-of-everything
  • zoning