Commandment 10 – Thou shalt Test. And Test again.

This is the last in the series of the Ten Commandments for Church Websites! It’s always scary to talk about a first, but it’s equally sobering to figure out what the last of anything should be.

Last words. Something that should overshadow everything that’s been said to this point. When it comes to Graphic Design, I often remind our team of two things. Be consistent (already dealt with in Commandment 4) and “be careful with the details”. Designing a website (or anything for that matter) is deciding what, where and how many details are arranged.

It never fails, but when we think we’re done something, a question can be raised by someone on the team (or worse yet, by one of our clients) like: “Shouldn’t we have a phone number on it?” Or “is that the way you spell ‘accommodation’?”. It sends terror down our spines and the glances that go back and forth around the table show horror that’s welling up inside. It’s so easy to make mistakes when you’re dealing with so many details.

Therefore, it’s those “testing” questions that have to be asked. And often they need to be asked by an external source. If you’ve been working on something for dozens of hours, you’re not the best person to evaluate it. That’s the power of teamwork. It’s why we’re called, PinPoint Creative GROUP.

So what tests should be conducted? Here’s a list of the top trials that every website MUST be put through:

  1. Try EVERY page in the browsers that your audience will view your site. This may take a long time, but it’s the only way to see what “they” will see. If you’re not happy, they won’t be happy. Check with your hosting company to see what browsers are being used on YOUR site. Usually (in this order) it’s IE, Firefox, then Safari. But Google’s new browser could mix all this up. Each browser treats the programming differently.
  2. Check for missing links (graphics, pictures, etc). I’m amazed at the amount of websites I surf through that have missing images. Or links to “this page can not be found”. This needs to be done on a regular basis especially with any change that is made.
  3. Spell Check. Think back to when people used to type on a typewriter. Remember those? Where if you made a mistake you either a) decide if you’ll start over or b) pull out a piece of correction tape or a bottle of whiteout, dab it on, then blow on it to make sure it’s dry and then type over the error. Always hoping that the page hadn’t shifted in the process.Now those were the good old days, eh?Or when you were typing something you wondered if you were spelling things correctly and you had to pull the big dictionary on to your lap and look up the word. I bet, someone along the way thought “if only this machine could tell me that something was spelled wrong, and suggest the correct spelling”. Wouldn’t that be easy?!?So why is it that almost every website has a typo? PLEASE spell check. It’s easy to do and it’s easy to change (no whiteout required!)
  4. Focus Test. This is the process where you bring a sampling of your audience (the people you want to LOVE your site) into a room and have them surf through it. Watch where they click and how long they spend on pages. Ask them questions about what they like and what they don’t. Don’t base everything on one person, instead, ask several and hear consensus. It’s not what YOU like, it’s about what content THEY want — and how they want to get it.
  5. Analytics. This is the regular, consistent process of watching the statistics of who’s coming to your site — are they going to the right pages? — are they spending time on those pages? Are they clicking on banners? Links? Is your audience growing or declining? What days are they coming to your site (this means you should update and add content before those popular days of the week). All of this is available with most good hosting packages.I know that our hosting package that we recommend allows you to freely examine all this content (and much more) whenever you want it. You can print out these stats and compare. It’s with this knowledge that you can change button colors, banners, content, etc – then look to see if the analytics improve. This is the joy of websites – You can change on the fly!

I’m sure that when God gave Moses the 10 commandments, He wondered “is this enough?”. OK, has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God? So I know that He never “wondered” that… but I’m wondering if I’ve left something out in this series. I would love input from you if you can think of the 11th commandment or additional content that I should add to this series.

God is sovereign and knew exactly what to cover and how much. I’m not. But I think these will get you thinking.

Have fun designing and building your church website. God will use your talents. If you feel that your website doesn’t match the quality standard of your church, we’d love to assist you. We’re just an email or phone call away!

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