I had the neat opportunity recently to check out the College Ministry web site of a friend’s ministry. I’m a big believer in auditing our ministry elements – including our web sites – on a regular basis. So I figured my thoughts about his site might help you think through your own!
For the sake of discussion, we’ll call this ministry “Ignite.” This is roughly the way I delivered my thoughts to him, with some explanatory notes thrown in.
1. What exactly is “Ignite”?
- The web site uses the name for the whole ministry AND for the Large Group Meeting, which is confusing to the outsider (and especially the new college freshman).
- -There’s not a strong “basic info page”
Not everyone will want more info, but some students will. Especially on a web site, there’s no harm in providing a solid “full information page” – for both incoming students and their parents.
2. The graphics look weird on my screen
In this case, something meant to be cool actually made it look weird (to me, at least). One students’ “cool” is another students’ turn-off, so it doesn’t hurt to have several people look over your site. Further, make sure you check your site at least on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and iPhone. Yes, really. If you’re gonna make a site, you might as well make sure it looks solid and works well.
3. Proofreading needed
I only found one missing word on this particular site. But it’s always worth proofreading (or having others do it).
4. Great in showing how much the ministry has going on
I brought this up specifically because opportunities for involvement is a strong point of this ministry. Does your site emphasize strengths?
5. Podcasts not up-to-date
This ministry podcasts the weekly messages, but the last available one was from January. That’s trouble. I’ve seen a million out-of-date college ministry web sites, most often in their Calendar or on-site Announcements. Better not to have them. A savvy student will recognize something is wrong. A non-savvy student will subconsciously recognize something is wrong.
6. Good way of dealing with a light calendar
Instead of having one big, blank calendar for the Summertime version of this ministry, they wisely offered a synopsis of their summer events. That’s far better than students finding a lot of white space in an online calendar. The same can be true in the school year. If you don’t have enough activities to make an actual calendar look “full,” consider a list.
7. Use more to differentiate the ministry
I’m a big fan of helping students make their college ministry decisions, which includes helping them see a ministry’s DISTINCTIVES, not just the same “pros” that most campus ministries have. In this ministry’s case, these include the involvement of adult volunteers, lots of activities for students to participate in, and a strong emphasis on Bible teaching (among other things). We can emphasize distinctives of our college ministries without being overtly “competitive” in the way we talk about it. And I think we should.
8. As always, it’s better to be helpful than “cool”
In web sites, students may tire of your Flash graphics, difficulty finding what they need, etc. Remember to think about purposes for the web site before designing it; if it’s already designed, list your purposes, and then audit the site for each one. (With the advent of iPhones, some of our “coolness” isn’t as functional anymore!)