Think of your website like you think of your computer. Both are virtually useless after 3 years. Website technology, your company and how your consumers find you change at least every three years. Just think about the online tools that were available three years ago. The fact that mobile devices (phones and tablets) are almost outselling laptops was unheard of 3 years ago. Due to these changing factors and many others, businesses and organizations should plan to re-create their website every 3 years. This 3 year lifespan is suggested for several reasons:
Current design/branding preferences of users change
Approximately every 3 years there is a slight shift in User Interface design preferences. For example, the current design preferences seem to be going to more simple layouts with clear, visual calls to action. The average person will evaluate the relevance of a website within the first 3 seconds of visiting a website. If they don’t find a professional, simple and easy-to-use website then more than likely they will move on to find something else.
Changes in your Calls to Action
Organizations change their campaigns quite often to re-engage their audience and provide valuable, time-sensitive information. A design that is clearly laid out will identify the current, time-sensitive promotions/events while making longer, more permanent offerings available on secondary pages.
Changes in the organization that should be reflected in the navigation
Has your organization changed, opened new branches, offered new products or services, hired more employees? Your website should reflect these changes and remove all obsolete services/items/etc.
Outdated resources and references
As mentioned above, most companies change often and along with these changes newer, more relevant resources are available. To increase your visitor’s interest, older, time sensitive material should be removed or archived.
Availability of newer technology (i.e. mobile)
Technology changes quickly, as do the way people use technology. Three years ago the statistics on mobile browsing was very low. Today those stats have grown over 400% with the recent growth in tablets and smartphones. If your businesses/organizations hope is to keep up with the demand of users browsing techniques then your website should be redesigned with a mobile-friendly layout and technology. However, mobile is not the only technology that has changed in the past 3 years. Many other programming techniques, browser support, and communication tools are available today. Another example of newer technology growth is QR codes. The number of scans of QR codes used in marketing and PR related materials grew 4,500% from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011.
Availability of Social Media (i.e. Facebook)
Perhaps one of the most important developments in the last 3 years is found in the increased use of social networking sites. Currently, approximately 10% of the world is using Facebook. This is an incredibly easy way to reach and communicate to your company’s consumers. This technology is easily accessible on mobile devices, websites and even to phones and in emails. Integrating with some of the more popular online partners and vendors can allow your company to be more efficient, have a greater reach, establish easier two-way communication and help your consumers with more relevant tools.
Changes in communication styles
The average attention span of today’s web user has been decreasing dramatically from what it was in the past. This means companies needs to capture their visitors attention and deliver relevant content quickly. Today’s user is attracted to more visually-supported resources, hence YouTube’s rise in popularity. It offers an easy way to communicate a message, deliver entertainment, demonstrate a tool, or provide how-to instructions via a video. Videos are one way your business can provide content using some of the most current communication styles.
The success of a website can only be measured by the goals that are identified and met. Your company should clearly identify specific goals for your website based upon the website’s statistical metrics that need to be set and measured. For example, your company might set a goal to track the number of users who visited your product/services page after being directed from a Google Ad. Metrics such as this can give your leadership team accurate data to make informed decisions around timing, priorities and budgets for the future.
Modern websites should compel visitors to stay as long as possible and return often. Besides fresh and engaging content, providing interactive features such as comments, surveys and polls will increase the two-way communication and provide valuable feedback to your company.
Google Maps can provide an easy way to show geographical information that can be utilized on mobile devices and other websites. Google Maps also helps promote local placement when people are conducting searches for your product or service locally.
Another communication method is the RSS Feed. The RSS Feed is a method consumers can use to stay up to date with your news, events, blogs or other postings. This RSS Feed would aggregate all posted information from you and share that information in a way that consumers, websites, mobile devices, email clients (i.e. Outlook) can receive in a very timely manner.
Your website should support mobile browsing. This may require an additional design layout exclusively for the mobile platforms. For example, the website may have an image, that when displayed in a mobile device, may not fit the device’s screen. This image would be need to be resized for the mobile version. In short, mobile real estate is at a premium and requires new design concepts.
Search Engine Optimization
The way people find your website changes dramatically in 3 years. Staying on top of how Google, Bing and other search engines know about your website is crucial to your site’s visibility within those engines. You shouldn’t use the slogan “build it and they will come” anymore, businesses must now earn their way to the top by staying fresh, relevant and helpful to the consumer.
In summary, think of your company/organization’s website as obsolete after 3 years. Put a note on your calendar to re-evaluate your online presence and make it a priority within the company. While keeping the above points in mind here is a short cheat-sheet of points to keep in mind for your company/organization’s website:
- Include clearly communicated purposes and goals
- Include compelling calls-to-action
- Deliver relevant content to your site visitors as quickly as possible
- Be sure your site is easy to navigate and answers the question, “Where do I go next?”
- Encourage interaction and two-way communication
- Provide reasons to return, such as fresh content
- Support departmental collaboration
- Make certain your site is easy for your team to maintain
About 3 months ago, I had an ‘aha’ moment: the tipping point has arrived - mobile apps have become the go-to deployment for business apps for many companies. I’ve followed the tech blogs about the forthcoming dominance of the mobile platform like everyone else, but it didn’t hit home until a discussion with a potential client about a new business application.
We talked about their requirements/wish list, and I mentioned we would design the application to be mobile-ready, and the client said, “What I need is a mobile app which is pc-ready”. Since then, this position has popped up in four other client discussions.
In my last article I talked about how in many churches information gets fragmented and spread all over staff and volunteers and how a centralized management software solution can help with this problem. This time let’s explore some other ways that a church management software solution can help your church and your ministry be more effective and also save you time and money!
Beyond keeping track of contact information a good church management software solution can also help you to centralize multiple other things. For example: your church master calendar, your financial accounting, your giving records, your donor records, your church small groups, your volunteers, and more!
Everyone has different experiences with technology, but I wanted to list my experiences with JQuery Mobile, the pro’s and con’s I've had to deal with. I have developed several mobile apps, on iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows, over the past year and in the process have tried a few different technologies to make my life easier. I've used the native language, PhoneGap with Sencha Touch, PhoneGap with JQuery Mobile and Titanium. Since my background is in .Net, PHP and JQuery, I naturally gravitated towards JQuery Mobile. However, in several projects I've had to work around some JQuery Mobile issues, with a bit of frustration along the way. Here are a few of the pain points I experienced:
As a former church administrator of over 10 years, I am intimately familiar with the question: “What is the point of church management software”? Isn’t this an expense that our church, which is already on a shoestring budget, can do without? Quite possibly, but I’d like to take a few minutes and explore exactly why church management software can help your church greatly and, in most cases, possibly end up saving your church valuable dollars.
I ‘ve worked at several church plants over the years and, as a church grows, the information required to adequately and effectively care for the congregation grows rapidly. This can easily start to fragment and get lost.
How? The information ends up being stored in small pockets all over the place: your staff, your volunteers, and into multiple computers which may be at different locations (homes, offices, church buildings, etc.).
Why nonprofits need to revisit their website strategy
- Written by Preston Callicott, COO
Getting a website published is just the beginning. To raise visibility, you need to make sure the “word gets out” about your website and the cause. Some of the ways to do this are:
SocialNetworks– Establish a Facebook page for your cause, and get all the staff to participate on a regular basis. Encourage them to have an open, positive - but truthful - dialogue through the social media portals. This humanizes the nonprofit to your target audience, and gets buy-in to the passion underneath the cause.
YouTube– post videos that highlight the cause, with links to your website and other social media outlets, like Facebook. The more sites you link to your nonprofit’s website, the higher the traffic, and ranking among search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc.)