Many small businesses or churches might wonder… do I really need a website? It might come from old-school thinking that if you’re in the phone book, that’s good enough. Or maybe it’s from the opposite end of the spectrum – can’t a Facebook page can just as easily function as a website? Let’s take a moment and consider the real advantages of having a website.

Many organizations may not have the staff or time to keep a website constantly updated with content. In those instances, I try to approach a website as a fairly static brochure. In a social media heavy world, you rarely interact with your customers or patrons via your website. That contact will happen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or even email. But we’ve probably moved past the days of pushing people to interact heavily with one organization’s website.

Websites are useful as the first point of contact with someone unfamiliar with your organization or brand. Websites introduce your organization, what makes it tick, and then points people in the right direction for further interaction. For churches, they want to know where you are, what to expect when they visit, and how they can get involved. For small businesses, when are you open, what products do you have, and why should I spend my money with you.

That type of information is easily lost on social media pages, but can shine brightly on a website. And perhaps the most frustrating thing a customer can encounter is that when they Google your business… there are no results because you haven’t invested in an online presence. So, get busy today. Establish a website for basic information, get a Facebook page as a way to communicate and run promotions, create a Twitter to reach younger users, or use Instagram if you’re media savvy. Conn Sites is here to help you navigate, if those are unfamiliar waters.

As I’ve worked with several churches to develop their new websites, one of the biggest hurdles we have to tackle is the use of “insider language.” I tend to think of websites as a place where people who are unfamiliar with you or your organization are coming to find out more. In churches, we have a tendency to develop acronyms, not define our groups, and make vast assumptions. Part of the web development process is asking the question, “If I knew nothing about your church/organization, what information would I be looking for?”

My particular denomination abbreviates everything! Our youth department (ages 13-18) is called the NYI (Nazarene Youth International). Our missions department that focuses on outreach and evangelism is called the NMI (Nazarene Missions International). We have a ministry called Brown Bag, and without an explanation that title simply falls flat (we package food for the needy in brown bags). A great website deserves clear communication.

So, ditch the insider language and make sure your website is clear, approachable, and delivers information with a mission in mind.