OK, so I’m making up words. Or, maybe I’m not.
In any case, today’s message is for churches to stop using the web simply as a online distribution channel for printed items like bulletins and newsletters.
I’ll say that again. In another way, just for the sake of entertainment. If you think your church website is finally “up to date” because you just uploaded a PDF version of this month’s church newsletter, you are mistaken.
So why not keep a church website up to date by simply posting PDF versions of the bulletins and newsletters that you’re already producing?
Because overall it shows a misunderstanding of the web - just as in the early days of television most content was repurposed radio dramas because people just didn’t see how TV brought new capabilities to exploit.
Specifically, by putting that newsletter and bulletin on your site as web content rather than PDF a church can gain:
- A more flexible and responsive publishing schedule
Aren’t you tired of sounding the “deadline drumbeat”? Or staying late on deadline day because *everything* comes in last minute? Or making exceptions for people because of their position in the church? Your website can be updated any time - no deadlines required. Last minute news item? No problem. Finally, a communications medium that can dance to the beat of the content, rather than the other way around.
- Readers on alternate devices
I was at a holiday get-together with some other folks from my church this past week. The discussion turned to some content on the church website, and one guy said “Oh I gotta go read that”. He pulled out his wireless-enabled cell phone and within 15 seconds or so was reading the content - all possible because it was web content and not something captured in a PDF. And take note, this was no 18 year old geek. This was a police sergeant, a married father of 3 with one kid out of high school.
- Readers on slow connections
As part of another church engagement last week I talked with a number of the church members. A high percentage were still using dialup connections, and mentioned that they had issues trying to load PDF content. Regardless of how you feel about PDF’s, the truth is they are another layer of technology, another application that has to load, and why? So the user can see text and images - just like in the browser. What if that PDF content was the critical piece, the “last straw” for a visitor in making a decision to visit the church. Or - to cross the line and come to Christ? Why take the risk?
- More readers using assitive devices
Yes, PDF’s can be made accessible (readable by people using assistive devices on their computer such as a screen reader, but frankly it takes more work so they are less likely to be. Web content is much more likely to be readable by these devices.
- Better searchability
Yes, Google can index PDF files - but what if you don’t use Google?
Yeah, OK - maybe this is mostly me, but when I see the church website used mainly as a PDF repository I know this a church that’s behind the times and just doesn’t “get” the web. And if they don’t get the web, they’re unlikely to see me darken their door. What if it’s not just me?
Comments are closed, but you can read the comments other people left.