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    7 Characteristics of Good Content on Church Websites

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    MonNov142011 ByBryan YoungTaggedChurch Communications
    Smart people heed the advice of people smarter than them. So I often look to the folks at A List Apart for wisdom on best practices for the web. Below is their seven-part checklist for effective website content and how it applies to church websites.

    Good Content is Concise

    "Omit needless content"
    The slogans "less is more" and "Keep It Simple, Stupid" became truisms for a reason. More content on your website makes it harder for your visitors to find what they came looking for. Using analytics and user testing can give you an idea if people can find what they want and help you rid your website of superfluous content.

    Good Content is Supported

    "Publish no content without a support plan"
    You wouldn't plant a vegetable garden and leave it to fend for itself. You must tend it, water it, and care for it. The same is true for your web content. Weed out and trim back your content ROT. Water your pages with updated information. Fertilize your sections with fresh ways to present your information--with videos, blogs, or social media integration. Only then will your content bear fruit for you users.

    Good Content Fits Your Purpose

    "Publish content that is right for the user and for the business"
    • It is right for the user: it helps them accomplish their goals
      Some users come to learn what you believe. Some visit to find out where you are. Others want to know how they can give. If your content does not help your user fulfill their mission for visiting, it is not good content.
    • It is right for you, the organization: it helps you achieve your goals
      Ultimately, churches create websites to carry-out their goals. Spreading the gospel beyond their local community, increasing online giving, and developing a bigger base of volunteers are just some goals that church website content can help you achieve.

    Good Content is Useful

    "Define a clear, specific purpose for each piece of content; evaluate content against this purpose"
    After developing some big-picture goals for your website, take it a step further by identifying the precise reason for each content item. If you can't determine a good reason for having a page or video on your website, it shouldn't be there.

    Good Content is User-Centered

    "Adopt the cognitive frameworks of your users"
    When developing content, think like your user does. According to A List Apart, "[this] means that the days of designing a site map to mirror an org chart are over." If your visitors don't know your junior high ministry's name is Uplift, why would you include that name in your navigation? Take the time to remove content that would not make sense to a user with no previous knowledge of your ministry--internal mission statements, jargon, and vague descriptions.

    Good Content is Clear

    "Seek clarity in all things"
    All content should be easy to understand and find. The more thinking your user has to do because of your content, the less likely they'll leave your website with a full reservoir of goodwill toward your ministry.

    Good Content is Consistent

    "Mandate consistency, within reason"
    Just like content that is difficult to understand increases your visitors' cognitive workload, so too does content with inconsistent voice, presentation, and mission. Inconsistent content also makes it easier for your user to become distracted or find content difficult to understand.

    Learn more about Good Content for Church Websites

    Content Strategy for Church Websites - iMinistries Blog
    5 Tips for Making Your Church Website Content More Readable - iMinistries Blog
    3 Things to Remove to Improve Church Website User Experience - iMinistries Blog
     
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