You know that your synagogue needs a new website. The only problem is your team doesn't feel the same way. "What's wrong with the one we have?" is the refrain you hear over and over again. Your challenge is to convince your colleagues that it really is time for a new website. Our list of steps and talking-points will help you turn a “maybe, next year” into a “yes."
1. Build a Case Using Analytic Data
Declaring that your current website is “ugly” or the design is outdated will only get you so far. Instead of relying on emotions and a gut feeling, base your reasoning on facts.
Explore your Google Analytic data to learn:
- The number of website visitors
- The number of times a particular page (like membership) is viewed
- The average length of time a visitor spends on your site
- The percentage of mobile vs desktop users
These important metrics serve as the foundation for why your synagogue needs a new website. Your team may be pleasantly surprised to learn more about how many visitors you actually have. They may also be shocked to discover how many members are using a mobile to view their website. This is an especially critical statistic if your site isn’t optimized for mobile readers. Use your data to explain why now is time to take action.
2. Anticipate Common Questions
As you begin to discuss the possibility of a new website, your team is sure to have many questions. Be prepared and have solid answers to the following questions:
Why do we need a new website? We already have one.
The appearance of our website doesn't’t matter. It’s only used by our members. Do any prospective members even visit our site?
Forget prospective members, do our members even visit our website?
Expect other questions to focus on cost or the practicality of maintaining a website. Carefully plan and research, so you can easily answer these concerns.
- How much will a new website cost?
- Are there ongoing costs?
- Why is a new website a worthy investment?
- Will we have to hire a new person to update our website?
3. Paying for a New Website
It’s very simple. No money equals no website. Contact several different website providers to learn more about website design and build fees and about any ongoing expenses, such as hosting or maintenance.
Next, meet with your Executive Director or Treasurer to discuss the best way to finance this project. Is there a special fund or discretionary spending that can be used? Should your synagogue reach out to individual donors? What about fundraising or crowd-sourcing? With so many different ways to raise revenue, there is no reason to wait until July to see if a new website makes it into the budget.
4. Pre-Project Planning
Now is the time to develop a plan to ensure a smooth process from project kick-off to the launch of your new website. Determine if a small website committee should be formed and decide in advance the necessary players.
Jvillage recommends a small website team of three to four individuals. Possible team members include representatives from the clergy, membership committee, communication/marketing staff, technology or executive staff. This team will be responsible for all content and design-related decisions. Recognize that team decisions may need approval from your Executive Director or Rabbi.
Together the team will critique the current website and make suggestions for improvement. You will decide what content stays and what will be revised. Will you re-organize the main menu? Will you be rewriting certain pages? What about the homepage? What are the must-have items that need to be included on your homepage?
Map out a rough timeline between project kick off and the launch of your new website. Anticipate between 90 to 120 days. Plan for your team to be consistently working throughout the entire project. Note key milestones surrounding decisions related to website content, design, build, training and launch. Allocate the necessary time to revise certain web pages and write new pages. Share this proposed timeline with a website design/build agency (like Jvillage) to determine if it is realistic and solicit feedback for improvement.
5. Create a Strong Presentation
Once you have done your research, studied your analytic data, discussed a potential budget, brainstormed a dream website committee team, and sketched out a preliminary timeline, it’s time for you to create a professional and persuasive presentation. You may have met with various individuals separately, but this meeting brings all key decision makers together. You may even be asked to share your presentation with the Board. Your presentation should cover all of the above topics:
Focus on results - use your analytic data to demonstrate how your current website is performing. Explain how a new website will help alleviate particular pain points.
Budget - Detail costs. Propose ideas for how the congregation can pay for this project. Consider why is it necessary to spend money on a website when there are free template websites available through a company like Wix or Squarespace.
Project Details - Outline who will be involved and what your website committee team will do. Share the highlights of your proposed project timeline.
Leave Time for Questions- Think about and practice the answers to the questions noted in step 2. Strong answers demonstrate that you’ve considered all aspects of a website redesign.
Planning for a new synagogue website isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Remain focused on your goals. Always remember why a new website is necessary. Know that a new synagogue website has the power to grow your membership, increase revenue, enhance communication with current members, and raise employee and member morale. By clearly communicating the benefits of a redesign as well as researching cost, your chances of project approval are higher.
And, as you search for the right partner, see if Jvillage is right for your congregation. Our team understands the needs of synagogues and are here to help you bring your community to life online.
About the Author
As the client relationship manager at Jvillage, Jen Lieberman is committed to helping synagogues grow and thrive in our increasingly online world.