Develop your website strategy
Why have a strategy?
On the surface, a website appears to be a collection of images and text. So what is the purpose of having a website strategy?
Imagine you owned a restaurant. On your website you might want to tell people how great your food is and the types of cuisine you are offering. And you also might want to make sure they know the dress code. But if most of the people who visit your website just want to find the menu, see the opening hours, or book a table, and they cannot locate this information easily and quickly, then you have failed to meet the needs of your audience – the people you have built your website for. And if your website is not even listed on Google Maps when people search for a restaurant in your area, you will probably fail to attract new customers.
But there is more to your website being found than a listing on Google Maps. You also need to know which search terms you want to appeal to. This requires you to know your audience and the types of questions they might be typing in to the search bar. This tutorial will help you determine who your audience is. More on keyword research later.
A strategy also helps you to focus your efforts and ensure that all committee or branch members are on the same page. Otherwise a lot of time can be spent going backwards and forwards trying to make design decisions without a clear direction.
Step 1: Who is your website for?
The key to developing a good strategy is thinking outwardly. There is no point developing a website – something you want other people to find – while thinking only about what you want to say. You have to think about what other people are looking for.
Start by completing the Website Planning Exercise under Step 1: Who is your website for? on my Homepage. This will help you and your branch or committee members to start thinking outwardly.
The good news is, many of the questions in this exercise have already been thought through from a CS perspective. You may like to refer to some of the sample answers below. The only difference will be whatever is unique to your community. These are the answers I need you to tell me.
Step 2: Which issues are unique to your community or location?
Go through your answers to Step 1 and pull out any issues that are unique to your community. These might include:
- Some of the key issues affecting your community
- How Christian Science is perceived in your community
- Some of the challenges your branch is facing that may affect perceptions of your branch by an outsider
- The specific groups in your community, when and how they use the internet (if known)
- Location specifics e.g. parking, local contacts such as practitioners or committee on publication, events or blogs that are unique to your branch, other local CS websites you need to link to, etc.
Send these through to me so that we can start planning your website!
Sample answers for the Website Planning Exercise
1. Why do we need a website?
- to go out to where the people are (in their thought), as Jesus did
- because people want what S&H has to offer
- so local people know where to come
- to correct misconceptions about CS / MBE
- for those that research online.
2. Who is our seeker?
“Millions of unprejudiced minds — simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert — are waiting and watching for rest and drink.” (S&H p.570)
What kind of thought is looking for CS? Who is knocking on our door?
- thought that
- recognises the need for a genuine, God-centred spirituality in their lives
- seeks to be free from suffering, grief, pain, anxiety
- is disturbed/conflicted by – family, body, world and/or work issues
- is fed up with material resources and wants to know
- (a) if a non-material approach could work
- (b) why would such an approach work for him/her
- (c) how would he/she find and follow such an approach
- feels trapped, bound, imprisoned and wants to be free
- wants to learn (more) about God/Christian healing
- thinks something is missing/lacking,
- is dealing with incurable illness, is questioning life and death
- struggles with violence, anger, doubt
- desires progress, change, peace, harmony, solutions
- seeks life purpose, to be loved, to find true identity
- is curious about metaphysical/spiritual healing.
2a. What is our local seeker’s key ‘pain’ point / ‘motivating’ point?
Materialism doesn’t satisfy: nothing they’d done (about an issue) up to this point is working for them, and all material or ‘other’ supports have failed them.
2b. If my website could only do one thing that my local seeker would benefit from the most, what would that thing be?
3. How do they like to be spoken to?
‘The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.’ (S&H 365:31)
- with tender, Christly love & deep compassion
- with a hopefulness that acknowledges their ability to rise above the challenges they are facing
- with a message that is simple, clear and uplifting
- with a simple, pure logic that meets them where they are (in thought)
- with helpfulness and trustworthiness, not a hard sell.
3a. What do they expect/want to see when they get to our website?
Their ‘answer…’ ‘And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.’ (Isa 65:24)
- healing answers to their innermost questions and deepest, darkest fears
- proof of the Christ, Truth in action today through testimonies and evidence of real solutions
- the how to pray / how to heal for self, others and the world
- warmth, love, hope, a new door opening, promise, a new beginning, feeling welcomed, a sense of belonging, not an outsider
- information presented clearly, simple to follow, where to start, how to take the first steps
- to know (without doubt) that infinite Love is ever-present and that the eternal perfection of themselves and others can be demonstrated here and now.
3b. What is our local seeker’s intent when they come to our website?
- to find healing answers to their questions: Is there a God? Can God help? Does prayer do anything? If the answers are yes, then how do I pray?
- listen to online podcasts or read articles and healings on topics of interest
- understand more about CS / MBE
- find a place in the community they can come to sit quietly and pray/read/ collect thoughts/calm down/reason through options/prepare thought/come to a decision…..
- find opening hours, address, contact details, parking
- see photos of location and building inside and out (will they feel comfortable / warm and welcoming / easy access)
- read product information/make a purchase from Reading Room such as:
- Bible study resources
- Sunday School teaching resources
- children’s books / music
- lending library (free resources)
- find a practitioner
- find out more about our Services and Sunday School
- What’s On?/Events
- lecture details
- special services (e.g. Thanksgiving)
- Bible study
- find information about other reading rooms and churches nearby.
6. How will people in need find our website?
- through online searching (including via social media) when their search parameters match our keywords, and/or via location (e.g. Google maps) *
- Reading Room signage or literature
- newspaper or radio advertising
- lecture leaflets
- christianscience.com / Journal Directory.
* Further research on key search terms (or “keywords”) can be done once you get clear on the types of community issues you wish to focus your strategy on.
8. How can our website help to correct the five basic impositions found on the internet listed in a recent COM newsletter?
a. That Christian Science isn’t Christian
- Christian Science is based on the teachings of Jesus – include quotations from Jesus prominently.
- Healing should be prominent on the website & show that these healings are fresh and that the church is actively demonstrating proof through healing.
- The cross and crown seal boldly echoes Jesus’ instruction to his disciples: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:” Matt 10:8
- The CS view of the atonement is often cited as a reason why CS is not considered Christian so consider including something about atonement.
b. That Christian Scientists are disconnected from reality
- Your wording and arguments should be sound in order to appeal to the unbiased thought.
- Use examples and quotations that the newcomer to CS can understand – similar to Jesus parables.
- Proof is irrefutable.
c. That Christian healing is dangerous
- Include the Sentinel Watch weekly podcast and other testimonies of healing that show HOW the prayerful work is done and WHY it is effective, so that any sincere seeker will be able to make up their own mind.
- Also include links to Science and Health online so that they can read for themselves.
d. That Mary Baker Eddy is not to be taken seriously
- Your website should demonstrate the qualities Christ Jesus preached and MBE expressed of loving our enemies and blessing those who curse or persecute CS or MBE on the internet.
- Include a few points that demonstrate where to find more information on MBE from reliable sources.
- Point people to the Reading Room to find authorised biographies.
e. That the Christian Science Church is in decline.
- Demonstrate that healing is occurring now by linking to recent testimonies on JSH-Online and the weekly Sentinel Watch podcast. Keep it fresh – update to new testimonies every few weeks or months.
- Give a sense of the dependable, ever-present and omnipotent nature of Principle, Truth and Love.
- Because Love has an infinite Source there can be no decline – only an outpouring of blessings. Be expectant of blessings from your website.
- The website should give no sense of lack or decline – only richness, activity and abundant blessings.