Church website design

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Church website design

  1. 1. Church website design : Part IWeb Sites…In The BeginningFor many business areas, the Internet has set a new standard and changed the playing field. To takeadvantage, you need a site. But where do you start?Web Sites…In The BeginningYour first thoughts regarding a web site are guaranteed to be misplaced. If you have a current businessyou want to create a site for, you are viewing it using techniques you have developed in the brick andmortar world. If you have decided to start an entirely new business on the web, you are probablybrainstorming about potential ideas. If you want to avoid wasting time and money as well as majorfrustration, you need to understand that both approaches are simply, utterly, truly wrong! Well, most ofthe time.If you can accept that statement, you will avoid the mistakes millions of small and huge businesses havemade. You don’t want to be like that frustrated person you met at some party who got killed on theweb. As difficult as it will be, you must accept the fact you understand nothing about e-commerce. If youcan check your ego and opinion at the door, you are half way to making profits. Assuming you haven’thit the back button, let’s talk about the key issue.There is one word to memorize if you want to have a successful site - Research. Don’t worry, it isn’tdifficult to do. Imagine if you could find out what all the people in your city think of when they have aproblem your business can solve? Imagine you new the exact phrases they thought of most often. Theinformation would be worth more than its weight in gold. Far more. On the web, you can get thisinformation.The most important step you, I or any other person will take in starting a site is first determining if weshould! To let the cat out of the bag, there are more than a few industries that don’t do well on the web.The business just doesn’t translate well or people prefer to touch the product or talk to the person.Wouldn’t you hate to spend thousands of dollars or a couple hundred hours working on a site only tofind out there is no interest on the web? It would be maddening, not to mention putting macaroni andcheese front and center in your diet.
  2. 2. The best way to deal with this issue is to use a site called Wordtracker. Wordtracker is a brilliant, cheapprogram. You enter a church website design, click and it tells you all the phrases being used in searchesthat include that church website design. It also tells you how many searches occur for each churchwebsite design phrase in a 24 hour period. Do you realize the value of that?Assume you have an existing business that sells purple balloons for weddings. You are budgeting abunch of time or money to have a site built. Having read this article, you go to Wordtracker and do atest for “purple balloons.” You find out there are only 50 total searches a day for all possible churchwebsite design phrases. You now know the site isn’t worth pursuing. Unlike most businesses, you’vesaved a lot of money and a lot of time.Large and small businesses have crashed and burned on the Internet because they never took the timeto figure out if there was a market for their product or service. Now we know you aren’t going to makethe same mistake.Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Church website design : End of Part IWeb sites are for Your Audience, Not for YouIt is easy to forget that building a web site is a process of bringing about solutions to your end-usersproblems (as in, how can I help my customers find my store? By adding a map to the web site). Manypeople create their web site with only their own goals in mind. This is a big mistake. People dont careabout how neat your site is, or how much Flash you have developed, or the intricate JavaScript that youhand-coded. They are interested in getting their problems solved, and solved quickly.
  3. 3. So here are some tips on how you can make sure your site is based on your users goals. First, find outwhat your users goals are. Find a sampling of people who are typical end users and email or call them.Politely ask them the kind of questions that will elicit useful feedback on their goals when they come toyour site (for example, what are the three things you want above all when you visit our site?). If youalready have a site, ask them what things do they find challenging about the site. This is an ideal chanceto identify and fix things as well.As you actually create (or update) your web site, again keep the end users goals in mind and make surethat they can get to the information quickly and easily. Nothing is more annoying than finding a site thathas exactly what you are after and then be unable to purchase the item! The process of designing a siteso it is easy to use is far harder than it looks at first. Usability, as it is called, is an entire realm of studywhen it comes to web sites. But in general, make sure users can navigate (that is, click around) to themost important features of your site easily. Do you offer a free tutorial on how to use your sharewaresoftware? Make sure you have a link to it on your navigation bar or at least prominently displayed onthe home page. A pleasing design can go hand in hand with usability. However, it you are not a whiz atweb design, then dont fret. A simple design that lets users navigate to their intended goal is far morepreferable to a gorgeous site that people cant navigate. So make it look as attractive as possible butusability should always come first.And remember, the site is for your audience... not for you.Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Church website design : End of Part IIWeb Site Turn OnsWhen you develop a sales brochure, you have a mental checklist of what needs to be in it. You probablylook at brochures from other vendors. You get advice from friends and colleagues. You probably alsonotice the sales flyers you get in the mail. What do you notice? What gets your attention?
  4. 4. A web site for your business has many of the same purposes as a sales brochure. At the same time, it ismore “delicate” and requires more attention. It is technically more advanced and therefore morechallenging to design as well as to keep up to date.Below are 10 things you should consider when developing a web site. These will give you a good start.After reading them, you may be able to add more.Know your audience. You need to know who are the people most likely to look at your site so that youcan target that audience. Who are your current and potential customers? What kinds of words orpictures do they respond to? You are more likely to make sales to those who spend time at your site, soyou need to make the pitch to your most likely candidates.Learn from the best. Spend some time on the web. Look at your competitors sites as well as unrelatedsites. Discover which presentations you like and what colors work well together. Take note of how easyor hard it is to navigate through the sites. Save the addresses you like so that you can return to themeasily (this is called a “bookmark”). The better your web site looks, the more time people will spendwith it and the better your chances of increased business or sales.Plan ahead. Once you know your audience (who is most likely to be interested in your product orservice) take time to lay out the content of each page and how different pages will link to each other.The more planning you do up front, the easier it will be to get up and running, and the fewer changesyou will need to make down the road.Graphics are worth 10,000 pixels. This is a play on the expression, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”Text in different colors can highlight important information. Animation, sound, and video may beimportant, especially if they are business related. Be aware, however, that if graphics take more than 8seconds to load, a potential customer may get impatient and move on. On the other hand, the effectiveand efficient use of graphics can provide a lot of information that will catch peoples attention. Potentialcustomers may not take the time to read text, but they can judge quickly from a picture if the product orservice will meet their needs.Be a good neighbor. If you want to quote a source, get permission. If some of the ideas you present arenot yours, give credit where credit is due. Use disclaimers or disclosures when required or appropriate.This enhances your reputation as a vendor.
  5. 5. Connect with the world. Provide links to other sites that sell accessories, add-ons, or related products.This will make it easier for them to do get all they need with minimal searching. Try to arrange forreciprocal links. The more ways people can get to your site, the more people will see it.Test your site. Always check your text for errors in both spelling and grammar. Remember that a spellchecker will find incorrect spellings but not incorrect usage (i.e., the difference between “its” and “its”).Also, what you see in one browser may not be what you get in another. You need to make sure that allthe fonts, centering, and alignment work. Test uploading times and links with slow modems. While youcant examine every possible computer hardware and software configuration that users might have, themore scenarios your site works well on, the more people will spend time with it.Get outside opinions. Find out what people think about your site. Ask for specifics like colors, fonts,graphics, time to load, and ease of navigation. Receive both positive and negative feedback graciously.Thank people for their suggestions. Remember that you will not be able to please everyone, but themore people who like your site, the more they will recommend it to others.Let people know where you are. Register with search engines. Tell your current and potential customersthrough phone calls or email. Include your web address on your business cards, letterhead, print ads,and email signature. The best web site in the world will not make money if people dont know its there.Keep it fresh. Update the content on a timely basis. Use contests and promotions. Conduct surveys andpolls where people can vote. Make your web site fun and interactive. Your site should be interestingand constantly refreshed so people will keep coming back to see whats new.Remember that your web site is an electronic ad for your business. Make certain that it reflects yourbusiness well.© Copyright 1999 - 2005 Alicia SmithPermission to reproduce granted if all attribution & contact information is included.
  6. 6. Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Church website design : End of Part III

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