Five More Talents’ content management services differentiate us from most other church web design agencies. In this article, we define the term “content management” and explain its importance to the effectiveness of your church website.
What is Content Management?
Definitions: By content, we mean primarily text content, but also graphics, photography, audio, and video content. By management, we mean updating this content on a regular basis — ideally on a weekly basis — according to a strategic plan.
Content management can be done in-house using volunteers and church staff. Or it can be delegated to trusted specialists such as Five More Talents. Either way, no church website should be without a content management strategy.
Why is Content Management Important?
Many factors influence the effectiveness of a website, not least the colors, graphics, and photography which make up its design. But while an attractive design is crucial for making a good first impression, maintaining your website content is the only way to make sure your website does not become stale over time.
Attention to little things can make a big difference. Consider the “zero tolerance” policies of Mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York City in the early 1990s. In an effort to reduce New York City’s crime rate and improve quality of life, Mayor Giuliani ordered the police to be tougher on petty crimes such as graffiti vandalism, subway fare evasion, and drunkenness in public. NYC’s violent crime rate fell precipitously after 1990, and many researchers credit Giuliani’s “zero tolerance” policies for the improvement. He paid attention to the “little” crimes, and thus deterred the larger ones, too.
Like Mayor Giuliani, we advocate a “zero tolerance” policy: A zero tolerance policy for stale content on your church website. We recommend updating your website on a weekly basis, so that nothing has an opportunity to go stale. This prevents visitors to your church website from losing confidence in your website as a source of reliable, up-to-date information.
A Commitment to Excellence
Of course, if you are going to update your content, make sure it’s good content — well-written, well-photographed, well-recorded, and well-designed. Note that good text content is of particular importance because:
- it engages readers of your website
- it tends to increase your search engine rankings and traffic
- it promotes a greater likelihood of quality links to your website
For example, many churches could improve the effectiveness of their online audio sermon libraries by adding brief text abstracts or teasers of their sermons. A text abstract of a sermon (longer then just a title) engages potential listeners, increasing the likelihood that they will listen. It also provides content which search engines can index, since search engine spiders don’t understand audio very well.
Common Objections Answered
Objection: “This seems like far too much work on insignificant details!”
Answer: In the short term content management may seem insignificant, but it is indisputably important in the long term. No one is likely to pay much attention to a website which obviously hasn’t been updated for a few years. The more up-to-date your website is, the more likely visitors to your website are likely to regard it as a trusted source of information. Putting up a website without a content management strategy is simply foolhardy.
The principle behind content management is the same as the principle behind mowing the front lawn at your church building, pulling weeds, changing the oil on your car, and saving ten percent of your income each month: You reap what you sow.
Objection: “Investing time and money in keeping our church website up-to-date and high quality is a distraction from the real work of the church.”
Answer: We agree that it would be possible to spend an excessive amount of time and money keeping your church website up-to-date. But the majority of churches do not have this problem. They have the opposite problem of investing too little in their church website.
If nothing else, investing in your church website is worthwhile because of the amount of time most people aged 20 to 50 spend on the Internet.
Is Content “King”?
Updating your church website regularly is crucial to its effectiveness. “Content is king,” as the saying goes.
But how do you put your content in front of the right people? In our November issue, we’ll tackle this problem by looking at the role social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) play in putting your content in front of the right people. As one commentator put it, “if content is king, then distribution would have to be the ace!”