Nearly half of people who use the Internet expect a website to load in less than two seconds. Within four seconds, 25% of your website viewers will leave if it doesn’t.
This means, if your website take four or more seconds to load, and there are one hundred people visiting your website, you will lose twenty-five of them. That doesn’t seem like a huge number, but the ones willing to wait the extra time are most likely your existing parishioners, so you just missed out on twenty-five new parishioners.
Here are two things you can do to decrease the amount of time it takes for your website to load, images and all. Best part is, you don’t have to be tech savvy to make these changes.
Optimize your images for Web use
Optimize? That’s a big word. Let’s simplify it. Every file you place on your website is made of megabytes. The Internet reads information in megabytes per second. The goal is to make your image so small that it only uses a tiny fraction of the megabytes that will load in 1-2 seconds.
To do that, save your images in the exact dimensions you will need it to be at a resolution of 72 pixels, or dots, per inch (ppi or dpi).
Each program, app, and software has a different way of doing exactly that. Here are some articles to help you in the program you use:
An important tool for effectively communicating the vibrancy of your parish
A parish website is not a plot of land on the Internet, a billboard, or directory listing of events. A parish website is a destination for seekers to learn more about Jesus Christ and parishioners’ window into their world of faith.
If your mission is to share the good news to all who will listen, it is necessary to take the role that your parish website has in that mission seriously. To understand how to reach that goal, there are ten vital components that make your parish website vibrant.
St. Paul the Apostle spent a lot of time in town squares, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ wherever he went. He spoke of becoming all things to all people, in order to win some to the cause of Christ. And as Catholics we are each called to do the same.
Imagine if you could regularly share the Gospel with those in your community who are feeling discouraged, disengaged, or even lost from the faith in just ten minutes a day. Facebook provides a digital place for you to do exactly that.
Think of Facebook as the new town square, with roughly 1.4 billion active users logging in every month. Your parishioners are here. People needing God are here. And your church needs to be here too.
Many parishes today have a basic Facebook page for their church. If you don’t have one, a good place to start is to share elements of your weekly bulletin and parish website, communicating the information in short segments that can be read quickly, responded to immediately, and shared exponentially.
To take your page to the next level you’ll need to find great content to share to increase your parishioner engagement. There are several simple steps you can take to move forward. With a little bit of planning, you can easily create a dynamic parish Facebook page in less than ten minutes a day.
Facebook allows you to engage your parishioners every single day
The Mass is the center of all things for the Church, bringing the sacrifice and love of Christ into the present moment. This is a message that can be (and should be) echoed throughout the rest of the week using your Facebook page.
Facebook allows you to share parish news, as it happens, not just on Sundays
Make Facebook your place to keep parishioners up-to-date with parish news and event information. By liking your page, they will receive up-to-the-minute notifications every single time you post.
Facebook gives you the tools to share the good news of Jesus Christ
Use Facebook to post content that speaks to the power of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Then encourage your parishioners to share those posts with their friends to spread the Gospel.
More and more parishes are starting to incorporate video on their website as a way to demonstrate what the church has to offer and to invite more people into the doors on Sunday.
There’s a lot of talk about the need for the Catholic Church to be “more engaging,” but we can’t engage people until they meet us at Mass!
Videos are a powerful way to urge potential or former parishioners to come to Mass, to communicate your church’s mission, and invite people to be more engaged members of your faith community.
To get started, seek out a volunteer in your parish or consider shooting video yourself using just your smartphone. Your videos should be short, around one to three minutes, and you will probably want to host them on a site like YouTube or Vimeo. If you have an idea that will take longer than a few minutes, consider developing it as a series.
Here are a few ideas for creating videos for your parish:
Many parishes have a written “welcome message” from their priest on the front page of their website, but welcome videos can be even more inviting and show that you’re making an extra effort to reach people. Your pastor can explain the culture of the community, discuss the parish mission, and invite members and visitors to come celebrate Mass.
Here are two great examples. Not only do they show images of the community and feature testimonials and messages from the priest, but they also invites the viewer to “Come, Join Us.” These videos may have been professionally produced, but they offer a great outline of the message to convey.
Video testimonials are an extremely powerful evangelization tool and are great for your website and social media channels. Record parishioners talking about their faith journey and how it led them to your church. Invite them to talk about how your parish has affected their family life and strengthened their relationship with God.
Pick a different question each month and record parishioners after Mass answering it. Here are a few examples to get you started: What do you love about your church? What does faith mean to you? Where do you find God in everyday life?
When my parish experimented with video a few years ago, the video that received the greatest amount of views was one taken of our priest on Ash Wednesday where he decided to spontaneously offer “ashes to go” and a blessing for anyone who wanted them in the Starbucks parking lot across the street from the church between services. This simple act of showing our priest reaching out and engaging in the community resulted in twenty times the results of any other video on our parish website.
When you’re thinking of great video ideas, try to be as creative as possible. For example, you could hold a contest for your parishioners or school children to create a video about your parish. Parishioners could vote on their favorite and place the winning video on your website.
Here’s a creative Day in the Life of a Priest video from LifeTeen:
A number of dioceses and archdioceses have jumped on the video bandwagon, so if you don’t have the time to create a video right now, check those websites to see if there are any videos you can repurpose on your site. If your specific diocese has produced a stewardship appeal or special collection video, embedding them on your online giving page would be a great place to start.
For fun, educational, Catholic videos, check out Busted Halo. They have a huge collection of short videos that cover a wide variety of topics including the meaning of the sacraments and holy days. They may seem basic, but these videos are a great way to evangelize to the people who aren’t at Mass every Sunday.
Here’s a great video from Busted Halo about the Eucharist:
If your parish is currently looking for a website tool that makes uploading and using videos easy, click here to learn more about how our website tool WeConnect can help you build beautiful, engaging websites.
Videos are a great way to connect with visitors to your website and nearly everyone has a powerful video camera in their pocket–their smartphone.
With a little practice and these few tips you can create great footage for your website. In addition to livening up your website, videos are also a great way to connect to visitors on Facebook and YouTube.
Here are ten simple tips for recording videos on your phone
1. Record outdoors whenever possible. Bright, natural light is always better, but stay out of direct sunlight.
2. If you have to record indoors, make sure there’s plenty of light. Just avoid windows or lighting directly behind your subject as it can wash them out.
3. Always turn your phone and shoot horizontally. If you don’t your videos will be sideways when you watch them on your computer or TV.
4. Keep the microphone as close to your subject as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask them to speak up.
5. Subjects should look just off camera and the camera should be at the same height as the person’s head. You don’t want to be looking up or down at them.
6. Be sure there is space above your subject’s head and in the direction they’re looking at.
7. Keep it steady. Phones are light and jump around. Brace your elbows at your side or on a table, or invest in a small tripod.
8. Watch your fingers. Don’t cover the microphone or the lens.
9. Don’t zoom in and out as it often results in poor image quality.
10. Avoid walking or moving shots as they can result in shaky, unstable footage.
These are our tips, what are yours? Share in the comments.
Every parish website speaks to visitors a little different–some have a welcome message, some have an “I’m New” menu filled with information, and some use video.
Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Beaverton, OR, has done a great job of putting together a welcome video that communicates directly to visitors and shows them what parish life in their community is all about.
For other video ideas for your website, click here.
For tips on recording videos for your website on your phone, click here.
If you are looking for a website provider that allows you to easily use videos throughout your parish website, sign up for a WeConnect webinar today.
Click the Company, Organization or Institution button and select “Church/Religious Organization” from the category menu. .
Enter your church name and click the Get Started button.
Under the About tab, enter a sentence or two that briefly tells people about your church. You are limited to 155 characters for this description. .
Enter the Web address you would like for your Facebook page. We recommend matching this to your regular church Web address—i.e., if your website is www.stmichaelmilwaukee.com, enter “stmichaelmilwaukee” and click the Save Info button.
Click the Upload From Computer button to add a profile picture for your church. This can be an image of your church, your church’s logo, or a seasonal image of your choosing. Once you have selected a photo, click the Next button.
Click the Add to Favorites button to add a quick link to your church Facebook page to your favorites panel. Click the Next button. .
Under the Preferred Page Audience tab, simply click the Save button. You can adjust this setting later. .
Your page is now created. At the top of your page you will see icons under the headingComplete Page Info. Click through these icons at any time to Add a Cover Photo and Add Contact Info.
Now that your page is created you can create posts, add images, and share content. In a future article, we will discuss some best practices for Facebook.
The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time in town squares, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ wherever he went. He spoke of becoming all things to all people, in order to win some to the cause of Christ. And we are each called to do the same.
Facebook is the new town square with roughly 1.4 billion active users logging in every month. Your parishioners are here. People needing God are here. And your church needs to be here too.
Here are four reasons why your church needs a Facebook page today:
Facebook Lets You Engage Your Parishioners All Week Long
The Mass is the center of all things for the church, bringing the sacrifice and love of Christ into the present moment. This is a message that can be (and should be) echoed throughout the rest of the week using your Facebook page.
Post daily Bible readings to connect your parishioners to the word of God.
Share homilies for those who might have missed Mass or who are physically unable to attend.
Post Catholic articles, encouraging words, and up-to-date news.
Facebook also gives your parishioners a place to share pictures, videos, events, news, and prayer requests all week long. And speaking of prayer…
Facebook Makes a Great Prayer Chain
Prayer is powerful and sharing prayer requests is something the church has always done. Facebook makes it easy for parishioners and visitors alike to share prayer requests or ministry requests with the community and, instantly, church members can respond and help them.
Encourage parishioners to share their prayer needs with the church body.
Remind parishioners to intercede for one another as needs arise.
Ask parishioners to share how God is answering their prayers.
The practice of praying together draws people closer to God, the church, and one another. Making prayer a focus in daily life can transform a person’s faith and we want to share that message in church, at home, and online.
Facebook Helps You Evangelize the Unchurched
Imagine if you could regularly share the Gospel with those who are lost or fallen away from the faith in just five minutes a day. Facebook provides a place for you to do exactly that.
Post content that directly speaks to the power of a relationship with Jesus Christ
Encourage parishioners to share those posts on their own Facebook page
As parishioners share, the Gospel is being spread to everyone they’re connected with on Facebook.
Now imagine people regularly seeing reminders of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy. This is digital evangelization and God can use it to transform hearts and change lives.
Facebook Encourages Stewardship
We are called to practice stewardship in every area of our lives, to acknowledge that all good gifts come from God, and to use those gifts to honor him. Facebook offers multiple opportunities for your parishioners to give of themselves in their everyday lives.
Recruit volunteers using Facebook events
Encourage parishioners to ask the community for help when they need it, and to pay it forward when they are able.
If you are a WeShare customer, install WeShare on your Facebook page and use it for donations, events, and fundraisers.
Your parishioners are already using Facebook, so give them a way to be good stewards of that time.
For help integrating WeShare with your Facebook page, please contact your Engagement Manager.
There are many ways to celebrate Pope Francis’ first visit to America, but which is the best and easiest? Here are six ways to engage online during his time in the US and how to get unfiltered, honest, news and updates about his visit.