Take a look at your Church’s Home Page today. What’s on it?
In larger companies or design agencies, there’s a formal role on a web project called a User Experience Designer. This person’s role is to consider the user’s wants, needs, and understanding when they go to your website. While attending ParishSoft’s User Conference and listening to William Glover, the CIO for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, speak on creating a great website for your church (pdf of the presentation is here), it struck me that we too often don’t consider why a user is going to our website. If we have the resources, we too often get caught up with adding ‘flash and splash’ as William said, we may think we’re religious, but we’re actually seem more like closet architects as we’re overly enamored with the buildings that comprise our church, and we’re just now getting that we may live in a bilingual world, but too often forget that some of the potential audience of our website may be non-parishioners and non-Catholics.
Look at your website and try and put yourself in a parishioner’s and even a non-parishioner’s shoes. Why would they come to your website? What information are they really looking for? Chances are you have some good content there. Your church’s mission, its history, even a welcome message is valuable and important content, but is it really what the end user is looking for when they go to the website. You need to understand your users and put the information they’re really looking for at their fingertips when they first come to your website?
Your challenge is to design your website to meet the needs of its consumers and trying to put yourself in your end user’s shoes may be a great first step forward.