Church Website Survey Live

Today’s first topic:

It took a day longer than I hoped it would, but I believe I have now contacted every church in the Dubuque area that has a functional contact form or email address and asked them to participate in my survey. Theoretically, that means I contacted 83 different churches, although a couple of those emails turned out to be undeliverable, so the actual number is slightly fewer. I also tweeted the link to the survey and several people filled it out from there.

Thus far I have 27 completed surveys within the first 25 or so hours of sending out the link. Some of the comments I’ve gotten have been excellent, and I’m sure I’ll be quoting some on the site later. I’m hoping for a few more of the Dubuque area churches to respond yet as well. If you are interested in completing the survey, I’d love your input as well, particularly if you’re responsible for your church’s website. If your church does not yet have a website, I’d very much love to hear from you as well. Here’s the survey link: http://bit.ly/ChurchWebsiteSurvey.

Side note: The link is set up through bit.ly, a free URL shortening service, which means I can see how many people have clicked it. At the moment, the link has gotten 53 clicks. That means almost exactly half of the people who have seen the first page of the survey have actually filled it out. I have no idea if that’s a good rate or not, but it’s an interesting metric to me.

Second topic for the day:

I just finished reading my third book for the project, Less Clutter. Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales, by Kem Meyer. The author is the Communications Director for Granger Community Church (their website is a unique, fresh take on what a church website can be. Check it out at gccwired.com) and a lot of the book is about their experiences. The book is largely about how to improve how churches communicate with both members and the larger world. The book has tons of little bits of good information, but it jumps around tremendously. Meyer writes in the introduction, “[This book] caters to the short attention span (for my sake and yours). It is conversational. It bounces around.” (pg. 12) She’s not kidding. Pretty much every two pages is a mostly self-contained topical unit. For me, this makes the book both easy to put down and come back to, and hard to know when to stop reading, since each page turn could lead to a new, interesting topic.

There’s not a huge amount specifically about the nuts and bolts of church websites in here, but there are some valuable insights about the philosophy behind a church website. She raises some excellent points about the need for laser-like focus on the website (and in all communications), talking about how essential it is to define the purpose of the website before worrying about what looks good, or is “cool.” And of course, as the title implies, she focuses throughout the book on the need to remove clutter and extraneous information from sites. (Yes, the phrase “extraneous information” is probably an example of clutter. So is this parenthetical phrase. Oh well.) Much of Meyer’s book is about her role as church communications director, but the principles apply to smaller churches and pastors as well. I enjoyed the book. On to the next one!

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