Taking Word to World Wide Web

Here are my notes from the class I teach at conferences. (The large text below is so I can project this page for class.)

Introduction
Writing online
Christian” writing online
Planning your site
Designing your site
Producing your site
Testing your site
Promoting your site


Introduction

Several issues make the Internet one of the best ways to spread the gospel:

It’s immediate
The speed in which new information can be uploaded to the Internet, makes this media nearly “real time.” When national and international news breaks, Christian writers can post opinions and helpful articles in a matter of minutes.
9/11 page
Future terrorist attack

It’s available worldwide
According to Internet World Stats there are currently [click here] Internet users around the world. (The number is growing too fast to keep this page current!)

It’s effective
Here are two of my favorite emails in response to online ministry:

      I wrote you I guess because I questioned the way I interpreted love. I feel I’ve been a loving person all my life until recently. Today, when I look up “love” on the Internet and found your Web site, it did something to me. In all honesty, when I saw it I said, “Oh, this is just some Bible thing; people trying to get you to believe in God.” I didn’t want to look at it, not because I wasn’t interested, but because I am bitter. I started reading
      it with this attitude of sarcasm. The funny thing was, though, that for some reason I kept reading it through to the end. Even if I had thoughts of clicking out of that screen, my hand was frozen to the mouse, like God sitting me at a table saying, “Here’s your lesson, now learn it!” I was very strange. Do you think God is trying to tell me something? Margo

      Your article [on suicide] saved my life tonight and showing me a path to toward hope. I [am] still in severe pain from the death of my boyfriend six months ago. But, I felt a need to say thank you [name withheld]

It’s interactive
• Blog comments
Facebook
Twitter

It builds your ‘tribe’
It’s so important to build your platform


Writing online

Just as the technology is very different from print, the writing must be as well. You can’t simply take your article, book excerpt, essay, etc. and click SAVE AS WEBSITE:
Writing online


Christian writing online

Taking the Word to the World Wide Web also requires a very different approach.
Crossing Over with the Cross


Planning your site

Determine your site’s purpose.

Possibilities include . . .
Blog
Evangelistic site
Resume
Soap box
Store front
• All of the above

Whatever the purpose, include the following elements . . .
• Memorable domain name (not www2.fwi.com/~watkins)
Your home page (Table of contents)
• Individual pages and/or posts
• A link back to the home page on every page!
• Email link on every page
• Search box
Google analytics


Designing your site

What’s wrong with this picture?
• That horrible music!
• “Busy” backgrounds. Ugly backgrounds. Distracting backgrounds.
• Animated .gifs!
vAnimated .gifs that never stop!
• Link border around clickable graphics
• Images with no ALT or TITLE descriptions
• All text centered
• Text that goes to edge of screen
• Numerous font faces (Is this a website or a ransom note?)
• Gaudy bullets
• Underlined text that is not a link
• Scrolling marquee text
• Typos (animated has one ‘n’)
• Broken links
• Links that remain the same color after being visited
• Tiny text!
• All body copy in italics or bold. SHOUTING with caps.
• Body text that extends from edge to edge of screen (keep it no more than “book” width)
• Body copy against a busy background
• Pop ups!
• Pages that don’t allow me to easily go BACK
• No phone number or land address on business sites (Do not put phone or land address on personal site. There are creepy people out there!)
• No email contact information
• Visible counter (Considered tacky)
• Large graphic files that take forever to download
• “Flash” intros, graphics that do nothing but waste bandwidth

Seven rules for good design
1. Relevance to audience
National Review vs. National Enquirer
Toyota vs. ToysRUs
Jeep vs. Jaguar
Billy Graham vs. Billy Bob Brimstone
Dave Barry vs. David Jeremiah
2. Consistency in design, elements (Variety in consistency)
3. Positioning for eye’s natural tracking (top left to bottom right)
4. Proportion (Size denotes relative importance)
5. Contrast between text, graphics and background (black on white still the most legible)
6. Attention to detail (This is your only “first impression”)
7. RESTRAINT!!! (Keep It Simple Saints!)

Make sure that design reflects your “brand” (what audience expects when it thinks of you)
The medium is the message!


Producing your site

If you want to design sites for a living:
DreamWeaver (Expensive)
KompoZer (Free!)

If you want to use a website program to design your site:
Yahoo! Small Business ($3.75+ per month)
GoDaddy.com ($1 per month)
WordPress (Free!)
Blogger (Free!)

If you don’t want to mess with these things, ask your 13-year-old nephew


Testing your site

Use Facebook as a “focus group”
Use free polls


Promoting your site

Essential elements
• Get your own domains (one with your name, one with your tag line)
• Use “Description” and “key word” tags
• Submit your site to search engines
• Share links with friends, associates
• Get listed with portals, blogs, ezines
• Include your URL on your email signature
• Incorporate your URL into your author blurb at the end of each article, at back of books
• Print URL on all your stationary and business cards
• Offer free premiums such as book excerpts, videos and music, your talks, etc.
• Offer helpful resources from your site on Facebook and Twitter

What has worked on my site
• More content than you can shake a memory stick at
Constantly changing content on home page
• Content is constantly hyped on Facebook and Twitter
• Addressing felt needs
• Keeping connected with audience
• Fast loading (Avoid large photos, videos that automatically start running, etc.)
• Lots of internal links (Keep site “sticky” by not providing many external links)

Last update: November 2014 (It will be obsolete in a week!)

Copyright © 2008, 2014 James N. Watkins

Top photo from GeeksOfDoom.com

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