After having spoken with countless ministries about their web strategy, their product development, and website redesigns, I’ve gotten the feeling that we’ve generally caught the bug of “copy” or “catch up”.
Most ministries have a handful of examples of other ministries that they want to emulate and/or copy and just as many, perhaps, sites that they don’t want to be like. I hear things like this:
Can you help us do what they do?
We just don’t want to look like these sites (“sites” = websites that need more help than theirs) but we want to catch up with these guys.
Can we have your source code?
And the thing is that the heart behind these requests is in the right place; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a better web strategy or website and if you see something that looks good then rock on, right?
Here are some key considerations though and questions that I ask:
- Do you know if those models and examples are actually being effective at what you think they are attempting to accomplish?
- Why do you think they are being effective? What specifically?
- How important is it that you tie your mission and overall umbrella ministry strategy to your web properties?
- What does success look like for you as a ministry?
You see, the goal is not to necessarily emulate or copy or catch up with other ministries, the goal for you in your next redesign or build out is to match as closely your ministry strategy with your website property. Your site isn’t going to look like or function like other ministries and it shouldn’t because your ministries are different.
Context, history, people, leadership, and target audience all play a part of your next move and it’s going to be different for each ministry.
Finally, the goal is also not to “leap frog the competition,” sotospeak. What competition exactly are we talking about? Do what you do best as a ministry and I firmly believe God will honor that energy and service. I’m not so sure He’s ever enjoyed watching 1st Baptist of Whatever pwn 2nd Baptist of Whatever in a web design contest.
Run well friends!