Once we understand the role of the internet in ministry and why Catholic parishes need a dynamic website, the next step to creating a great website is to understand what makes a great website:

  1. Design
    • First Impression – If the overall design is poor, unprofessional, overwhelming, or cluttered, visitors are gone within a few seconds, and probably never coming back. You only get ONE chance for a first impression, don’t blow it.
    • Clean & Simple – Less is more, particularly on the home page. Too much content (especially words) can overwhelm visitors and send them running. Keep it clean, keep it simple…and your visitors will want to dive deeper.
    • Consistency is Key – Lots of “fun” colors and crazy fonts are NOT fun for visitors. Fonts, colors, and page layouts should be consistent throughout the site.
    • Reflective – The design should reflect the beauty, mission, and vibrancy of the parish. Within a few seconds, the visitor should be able to “see”, “feel” and understand the heart of the parish community and the main purpose of the website.
    • Quick and Nimble – We live in a fast-paced, impatient world. A website should have web-optimized images and NO slow-loading scripts. If visitors have to wait, they will be out the gate.
    • Design Independence – A website’s design should be separated from its content using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This allows for future design updates without content overhauls.
  2. Usability
    • Intuitive, Consistent Navigation – If the website looks great but the visitor cannot intuitively navigate the website, the visitor will often “give up” within a few minutes (or even seconds). Therefore, the navigational structure should be simple and consistent throughout so visitors feel “at home” within a few clicks.
    • Browser/Platform Independence – Different platforms (MAC vs PC, mobile devices) and different browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc) handle HTML and other mark-up languages differently in some cases. Great website design will be cross-platform, cross-browser so that all (or at least most) users experience the website as the designers intended.
    • Mobile Usability – With the rapid increase in mobile browsing, a website’s design should be compatible with mobile devices. When practical, a mobile version of the website is ideal.
  3. Content
    • Dynamic and Current – Old news is bad news. Outdated information jeopardizes the integrity of a website and hurts rapport with visitors.
    • Relevant and Meaningful – Content should be relevant to visitors. Relevant content attracts visitors and keeps them coming back.
    • Provide an Experience – Visitors often want more than information, they want an experience. A website should not just inform, but also engage! (Web 2.0)
    • CMS (Content Management System) – A website that is not easy to update, will not get updated. An effective CMS is essential to a website’s success.
    • Essential Elements – This is whole topic itself (and will be covered in the next post).

Feel free to share your thoughts and add to this list by adding your comments below!

October 28, 2011 Using New Media 0 Comments