04 Mar Not Like Yesterday’s Newspaper
Ever sat down for breakfast and read last week’s newspaper? Me neither. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with last week’s newspaper. It was written by the same people as today’s. Honestly, it was pretty useful when I was trying to figure out what play to take my wife to on Friday night.
It’s just not that useful now.
Your Local Baha’i website falls into the same category. In the not-too-distant past, if a business or a church had a website that just had the location, services offered, and a phone number, everything was golden. There’s a good chance your Baha’i website fits that description. The problem is, those days are over. Our competition is too good, and people just expect better.
If your website isn’t constantly updated with what’s going on in the community, people might view it once, but they’ll never return. Why should they? When was the last time you went back to a website that never changes? Even encyclopedias like Wikipedia are updated these days. A website that changes with the times and events going on in your Baha’i community is something useful that people, both Baha’is and the wider community, will use often and learn to trust.
What kinds of updates are best?
Sometimes we face the challenge that not enough people seem to be participating. One reason is that not everyone knows that they’re going on. An updated calendar will help remind Baha’is and serve as an invitation to seekers.
Because they aren’t regular events, they can get lost in the shuffle of community life. Also, there is the phenomenon which I like to call “Naw Ruz Baha’is”. This is much like “Easter Christians”, Christians who just go to church once or twice each year, usually for Easter or Christmas. It stinks that sometimes we don’t see members of our community as much as we’d like during the year, but making it easy for them to come to big events like Ayyam-i-Ha and Naw Ruz is key for helping them build a bridge back into active Baha’i life.
People love pictures from events; especially those in which members of the community are featured. I just put up pictures from our Ayyam-i-Ha celebration on Facebook, and the “likes” and “shares” just blew up. The nice part: non-Baha’i friends and family of people tagged in the pictures get to connect in a small way with the Faith. So take lots of pictures, put them on the website, and post them to Facebook.
Consistency = Trust
Updating your website on a regular basis is absolutely essential. Don’t leave it to chance — set up a schedule of updates weekly, monthly, or every Baha’i month. If you do it any other way you’ll forget, and your website will be on the slippery slope towards the only thing worse than a “brochure” website — an abandoned website. Keep it consistent.
Design your website to be easy to update
When you’re building a new website for your Baha’i community, don’t just have it coded any old way. Make sure you’re getting a content management system like WordPress or Joomla. Because, let’s face it: most people in your community aren’t IT pros. Sometimes a person who doesn’t do anything computer-intensive for their day job is going to be assigned to post info on an upcoming Core Activity, so it needs to be super easy. Having a smart guy in your community code a beautiful website that only he knows how to update is a recipe for disaster. What if he moves? Baha’is move all the time. What if he’s out of town? What if he doesn’t come to any events for a while? This is how websites die.
My strong recommendation to you is to build your website on a WordPress platform. It shouldn’t cost any more and it will be loads easier for the average person to work with.