The W Matrix
A World Wide Web Site, just like printed media, requires design and layout to be effective. The purpose and intent of it’s use if identified fully will dictate an information design that will allow the site to expand while continuing to fulfill it’s purpose.
It is the purpose of this ministry to exhort you to create an information design that is God dictated. I believe the biggest purpose of using this technology is for evangelism. Your ministry may not be that of an evangelist, but an opportunity for someone to pray the prayer of salvation should never be turned down. The ministry that God has called you to should be your focus and purpose. With that purpose defined, it can be the basis for your Web site’s information design. Each of us has a unique personality and God given gift or gifts. The use of graphics, music, animation, audio streaming and video streaming can be put to work in a web site to express your specific personality that God uses. In this day of television broadcasting, more and more ministries are utilizing that technology. Internet programmers are pushing towards Web TV such that the Internet will become a television platform as well. This actually will be a good marriage of Information delivery as well as video. You will be able to watch a minister from anywhere in the world and then go to his/her web site to read about their ministry, TYPE in a prayer request, and receive literature and prayer answers faster than by postal mail.
Utilizing the standard W matrix I will herein outline the questions that need to be asked.
Who, What, Why, Where, When
The last two questions are easily answered.
Where: where are you going to house your web site? You will need to find a full service Internet contractor/programmer that can provide dial up service, e-mail boxes, Domain hosting, web site storage space and programmers that can build automated web pages that you can maintain yourself. There are several questions that should be asked of your local Internet Service Provider (ISP). These are outlined in the document http://web-ministries.org/how_to/isphowto.html.
When: who you contract with to build your web site will decide this. Today there are enough ISPs now that you could have a web page built today and on the Internet.
The first three W’s will help determine the design of your site.
The question of why must be answered to ensure there is a goal and a purpose for taking on the responsibility of an Internet Ministry. A Web Site is just like a regularly scheduled publication. If you have a monthly magazine you are already prepared for the responsibility that goes along with a Web Site. A Web Site becomes as a needy child. It requires updating, maintenance of any links you have in it, that they still go to working pages or other web sites, graphics that should be changed on a regular basis to keep the site’s look fresh, and addition of new material such as teaching articles. Unlike a monthly magazine in which you press on towards the publication deadline, send it off to the printers and have closure for that month’s deadline, a web site accumulates the previous month’s additions. These additions either have to be removed or stored for continued access.The most widely used application on the Internet is electronic mail. It is a way to communicate without the expense of a postage stamp or a telephone. The viewers of your web site are going to want to e-mail you in hopes of getting a response. Ministry is helping people, therefore a ministry should provide the same contact service to e-mail that you provide to postal letters sent to your ministry headquarters. This means computers and computer users that know how to do this.
Why you wish to take on a whole new ministry and add to your already full plate of responsibilities needs to be established. Today’s software programs will allow conversion to Hyper Text Markup Language (html) for web publishing making it easier than 6 months ago to publish to a web site. But a web site is more than just text, the graphics and any audio or video has to be formatted for the Internet which is different than the format you ordinarily use them in. This question must be answered and documented so that the goal of the web site is not lost in all the labor required to keep it up.
Who are you trying to reach? Most ministries have a publication they distribute to their partners and those who ask for it. A publication should supply some specific information to the reader, ie. , who you are, where your ministry is, how to contact the ministry, what your statement of faith is, what your itinerary is, articles teaching the Word of God, testimonies that provide witness that God is using your ministry, and teaching materials you have to help build the body of Christ.
Most monthly magazines are sent out to partners and those that request them. You design and layout the magazine for a receptive audience. If you were to obtain the mailing list of say Easy Rider, or Fish & Wildlife, would you design the magazine cover the same? Would you start with a meat eaters teaching on defeating the devil? This question is to help you see that on the Internet your audience is not just your partners, it is anyone who follows a link to your site, or searches for a word that happens to be in one of your testimonies. Say someone is researching cancer and your web site has a testimony about someone who was miraculously healed by the power of God from cancer. They may follow a link from a search engine to your page. Is the design layout such that they will stay to read the pages containing the testimonies? Can they then explore the rest of your web site to find out more about you? A design to ensure this must be employed in each page.
I think we have established that the who that will visit your site will be a much larger audience than who views your magazine. But, your biggest audience on the Internet will still be those who already know about your ministry. So a balance has to be found to serve both audiences.
I propose that the cover page to the web site be eye catching with obvious information as to who you are, why they should consider a relationship with Jesus Christ and what your ministry has to offer them. Those who already know who you are will be willing to click a few more times on links to get to your latest magazine articles.
What needs to be on your site has been touched upon in who you are serving. The foundation of your ministry needs to be explained in the site. Your statement of faith, your mission God has called you to, a sinner’s prayer, and contact information. From there an already created blueprint to use would be your publication. What you publish in your magazine or newsletter will already have the pieces you will want to add to your web site.
Internet security for business transactions is safe to use. You can consider adding an interactive ‘shopping cart’ program that will allow you to sell products from your web site. One minister has written a book and sells it online. The purchaser puts in his/her credit card number and receives a download of an electronic copy of the book. This works out well for both in that the minister does not have to pay publishing costs and the client does not have to pay shipping or wait for delivery.
What you put on your web site is limited only to your imagination and your budget for the site. I will again echo that when you identify why you are building a web site it will direct what you put on the site.