Our online communication has changed
One of the most important aspects of any ministry is communication. Two years ago one of the main places that took place for our group was through our website, AlexandriaYouth.com. Over the years, however, the way we communicate online morphed and our youth group’s website effectiveness dropped. I think it was due to a couple reasons:
- Teens dropped our site’s interactive features (like forums and live chat) for Facebook
- It was cluttered with too much information
- The home page was overloaded
- The site had too many target audiences, causing us to hit none of them
Our response in the new website
It was time to make adjustments and overhaul the youth group website, so last week I hunkered down and cranked out a new AlexandriaYouth.com that reflects some of the trends of how we communicate online.
- It’s simple. There’s not a lot of navigation menus, sidebars, and trails to follow. Pretty much everything you’re looking for is found right on the front page.
- We decided to use Facebook to our advantage by hosting as much media and information on our Alexandria Youth Facebook Page as possible.
- The site’s target audience is our youth group teenagers. There’s a little bit of information for perspective visitors and parents, but not much.
- To reflect the “status update” trend of social media, we’ve added a livestream of random photos, videos, and updates that I can easily update from my cell phone throughout the day, especially while we’re gone on youth trips (parents love it!). It aggregates all my youth group posts from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in one place.
How I put the site together
For the nerds out there, here’s how I put it together:
- It’s built on WordPress. (No more Joomla!)
- I’m using the free Irresistable theme from WooThemes.
- The livestream is powered by the Lifestream plugin for WordPress.
- I use the Selective Twitter Facebook App to have youth group tweets update our Facebook Page status and the livestream on our site so they all stay in sync. (I removed line 110 in extensions.php in the Lifestream plugin so the “#fb” in twitter updates don’t show up on our site.)
- The calendar is obviously Google Calendar with a simple copy and paste of embed code (technically iframe code, but whatever). Just make sure you made the calendars public.
That’s really all there is to it. Pretty simple, just the way I like it.
If you’re looking for a webhost to build something like this yourself, I’d recommend the host I use for AlexandriaYouth.com, Buyhttp.com, because they don’t oversell their shared servers (i.e. cram too many accounts on one server and overload it) and their support for WordPress is pretty solid. Alternatively, for an easier hosted solution you don’t have to mess with, you could check out my side-business, MinistryWebsites.biz.
Social media we’re using
I chose to stick with YouTube for video on our website instead of Facebook because Facebook’s video embed code sometimes glitches on our site and the dimensions are wrong if you view it on Facebook while not logged in. Plus, YouTube offers better streaming for people with slower Internet connections. So I post our youth group news videos on both YouTube (for our site) and on Facebook (for people who see it there).
Feel free to ask questions about any of this in the comments below.
[ Visit AlexandriaYouth.com ]
Posted on June 15, 2009