Last week, the iPhone 5 was released. Five million iPhones were per-ordered prior to the release, people were selling their spots in line at the Apple Stores for a few quick bucks, and amazingly economists predict that the iPhone 5 will actually measurably move our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Yes, a Smart Phone can help accelerate the US further out of the recession!
So what does this mean to us? Do you need to run out and get an iPhone 5? I’ll leave that up to you. I’m staying with my iPhone 4s for a while longer and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there that are very happy with your Android phone. What it does mean though is mobile computing has reached its prominence and we all need to be there.
A 2010 study by Microsoft predicted that by the end of 2013, there would be more smartphones surfing the web than there will be PCs and laptops. The same study said that the average American spends 2.7 hours per day socializing on their mobile device. At first, I thought that was ridiculous, but walk into an elevator or look around a Starbucks these days. What are people doing? They’re staring at their phone!
For the average church it means now that we now need to focus on ensuring our website works on mobile phones. The smartphones today will serve up most websites. In fact, probably all websites will run on a smartphone unless they’re rely heavily on Adobe’s Flash product. The iPhones still won’t support Flash and the Android phones will be dropping support for it in the future as well. However, just running your website isn’t enough. Is it useable on a smartphone?
Do a simple test. Try accessing your church’s website on a smartphone. Can you read the text or is it to small? Now, try and do the three most common things people go to your website for: find your mass times, contact phone numbers and email addresses, and directions to your church. If you can’t do these simple functions on your church’s website, you’ll be literally missing over half of the your website’s potential users next year.
All church websites need to support mobile. You don’t necessarily need an App, in fact, I would advice against it, but you do need a website that’s mobile aware and adjusts to whatever device your parishioners and visitors are using to find you. Unfortunately, very few church website products currently do this.
At Liturgical Publications, we just revamped our church website builder, WeConnect, to be fully mobile aware. The website adjusts dynamically to the size of the browser window and the device you’re using. We believe there’s really only two core functional requirements that every church website needs to have:
- The content on the website must be simple to maintain. You shouldn’t need a Masters Degree in Computer Science to update your church’s home page; you should only need to reasonably comfortable using Microsoft Word.
- Your website should be useable on any Internet Device. PCs or Macs, iPads, IPhones, or Androids. We may be passionate about our faith, but in terms of technology, we need to be agnostic.
If you’re website doesn’t work on smartphone effectively, I would encourage you to talk to your website vendor. If you’re looking for a new website, please check out our list of Catholic Website Vendors. This is a great list to start from although not all yet fully support mobile. For more on the impact of Mobile Technology and the Church, please check out our presentation on Slideshare.Net.