Archives For web 2.0

Are web sites obsolete?

Dave —  April 30, 2008 — 1 Comment

As I have been working on a web site for my church, I have started to wonder if the whole idea of having an all-encompassing web site is becoming obsolete. It seems that all the effort going into designing, developing, and maintaining a web site is a tremendous amount of work that must be re-done every two or three years. And now, with the advent of XML, where the form and content have been separated (see this video for a good explanation of what I am talking about), it seems that we should instead separate content creation from web site design.

What I mean is this: for each type of content we want to make available, we should find the appropriate tool and use it. Then we should allow those who are consuming our content to view it in any way that they would like. For example, for a church calendar, use Google calendar (my personal favorite) to manage the calendar and then make it “public”, which allows someone to integrate it into their personal calendar, bring it in to their “home page” via an RSS reader, or just view it directly.

Or take another example: each ministry wants the ability to communicate with their members. A youth pastor could use a blog as a way to keep his youth group up to date on what is going on in the ministry, complete with photos (linked from Flickr) and videos (from YouTube). The members of his group could keep up to date by subscribing to the blog via email, importing it into their Facebook profile, or just viewing the blog directly.

OK, you say, this is all fine and good, but we still need a web site! Well, yes, you do need something that is a place with your basic information and a place to direct search engines, but it should really be an aggregation of all these other tools.

One key to successful web ministry is a distributed model of updating. By allowing each ministry to update their own information, you will get the most dynamic web site possible. But the challenge to this then becomes: how do you change the culture within your organization so that each ministry is willing to do this kind of updating?

So do you agree or disagree? Could a church (or other parachurch or nonprofit) have a successful web ministry without a full-fledged web site? Or am I going out of my mind?

Web 2.0 suite: wrap up

Dave —  May 14, 2007 — 1 Comment

I have spent the past few posts working through how a small ministry or church could leverage the power of free “web 2.0″ tools for effective Internet ministry. If you missed a post or two, here is a quick summary:

Web 2.0 suite for ministries: this opening post gave a quick overview of the concept of using free web 2.0 tools to develop a web presence that is compelling, cutting-edge, and relevant.

Web 2.0 suite step 1: Building a “home”: this post got us started with the idea of using a blog tool, such as WordPress, as a home page.

Web 2.0 suite step 2: Add content: this post described how to get content on the site. The key is to not only post new text content regularly, but also to integrate video from YouTube and pictures from Flickr!

Web 2.0 Suite step 3: getting noticed: once your site is up and running, people need to find it. A good domain name is the first step. A close second is getting returned in search results. If people are looking for you, they had better find you!

Web 2.0 Suite step 3: getting noticed (continued): in order to show up higher in search results, you have to get others to link to your site. This post tells you some of the ways to do that.

Web 2.0 Suite step 4: socializing: this post focused on how to find the people who may not necessarily be looking for you. Find out what your community does online and then go there!

The reason I have spent some much time on this topic is that I believe that many churches feel that they just can’t “do” the web properly, and so they do not try. Some do try and end up with a half-hearted effort that is, well, embarrassing.  And yet others spend a fortune on professional services when possibly that money could be more appropriately spent.  I am not saying that a ministry should not spend big money on a web site. For certain organizations, it is the appropriate thing to do. For many, a “web 2.0 suite” web site will be a first step toward something larger down the road. For others, however, it may serve all the needs of the organization for many, many years.

One last thing: I’m sure there are several other web 2.0 tools that I have not mentioned. If you find some that you think might be appropriate to add to this “web 2.0 suite”, please let me know!