Posted by: Brandon | November 17, 2009

Resource Room — Ministry Websites by Gretchen

Our friend Gretchen, a campus minister at the University of Illinois, Springfield, recently asked folks within the Association of Campus Ministries for solutions for ministry websites. While having students help with our websites is good, campus ministry staff wants to be able to easily update information after the students leave the building. What are ministries using to create and maintain their web presence? Gretchen graciously shared the responses she received and some ideas with us.

It started in the mid-90’s when a Computer Science major from India offered to create a website for our ministry at the University of Illinois – Springfield.  The result was a mix of “under construction” signs, winking, bouncing smiley faces, and uninteresting text.   Over the next 15 years or so, we have attempted different fixes for the website dilemma…

  • We found students who had an eye for design, but found they couldn’t make the website do all the things it needed to do
  • Had a computer science student build a website, but it looked boring and didn’t reflect our ministry’s identity
  • web design student created a new website we loved, but we couldn’t update the info without special software or going through several other people

On our most recent quest to find a solution to the website dilemma, we asked other campus ministries what’s working for them.

Adam Caldwell at Indiana State University and Barry Reed at Western Illinois University both use Dreamweaver software to maintain their ministry websites.  Adam says, “it’s fairly easy to learn even if you have no web design background”.

Indiana University uses iweb.  Nathan Furr says, “Honestly, iWeb is really simple to use and makes a nice clean site.  I just upload what I’ve made in iWeb through an FTP server.  Without someone who can do lots of coding or paying someone, I’m not sure there’s really an easier way than iWeb. ”

WordPress has some great template options, and Joe Blanchard says it’s easy and allows for a lot of customization with add-ons.

Jeff VanderLaan at University of Albany has found a good option for out-sourcing – church web works is a complete content management system and costs about $50/month.

I was speaking to someone on the phone recently who asked me what our web address was.   I cringed as I tried to evade the question, but the reality is that potential students, parents, and supporters are probably stumbling across your website every week.  Investing our time and money in those first 3 seconds we have for a first impression on the internet are probably well worth it.



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Responses

  1. We are currently using Blogger.com to host our website. I’m not sure this is the best solution, but I just want to share that as another option to look into. Some day when I have time I hope to look into the other resources suggested in Gretchen’s fine article.

    Blogger.com has a lot more potential than what we have had time to do with it so far. So don’t dismiss it on the basis of what our website looks like.

  2. At NC State we have tried a different approach to getting our website address noticed on campus.

    Honestly, if we put http://www.ccf-ncsu.org on a flyer, the average student will not remember it by the time they sit down in front of a computer again. So we registered the domain http://www.battleforncstate.com in hopes that it is a web address that will be remembered. When we post the address on campus, we do see a significant response in website traffic.

    If you visit the site right now, you will find a brief statement about the spiritual battle happening on the college campus and be given a choice to “fight” or say no thanks. Choosing to fight leads you to our website, no thanks leads you to Facebook. I’m debating on dropping that page and having the address lead straight to our main website.

    Thanks for this post! It’s great to hear what other ministries are doing!


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