3 Components of your Digital FootPrint
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3 Components of your Digital FootPrint

One of the biggest reason for our business growth in website design was, “help, my old designer is no longer around – I cannot contact him or her anymore”. The result a website held hostage, and a church that appears to the public as if it is not doing anything new.

3 PRIMARY components go into your website. I will break each one down and then thoughts about each to empower you for success – even if you do not want to use our services – my desire as a former church planter and pastor is to help you succeed.

I.                     The Domain.

The domain is the “pointer” to where the website is being hosted. The domain is the “address” someone types in when they want to go to your church site. For example a domain is the: www.BeTheBirdgeSC.org.

It is the habit for many who do not understand what I am sharing here to purchase the domain with the hosting company that is chosen. VERY BAD idea!!! Here is why. (This comes from lessons learned over 20 years) If after 6 months you realize that the hosting company is horrible – guess you owns that domain for the first year? Not you – they do.

We HIGHLY recommend and have pointed every one of our clients to go to https://domains.google.com and purchase or transfer their domain as soon as possible to google.

Google Domain p

The cost is on average $12 (depending on the domain extension – .org; .com; .net) per year and you can buy up to (as of the time of this writing) 10 years.

Having this ownership YOU choose where the domain points to using what is called Domain Naming Services. Your host will give you an address to put into the naming servers in domains.google.com for your domain. So if the host after 3 months is not iPowered Hosting and is bad you can leave them quickly by going back in and changing the name servers for your domain in google.

II.                     Hosting

Your hosting company is just as important if not more important than the design of your site. Many churches do not realize this, and often go for the least expensive. Believe me I understand that especially for a church planter starting out. However there is an old adage I want to share here, “what is cheap at first may turn out to be expensive in the long haul” in other words – you get what you pay for.

Research them. Find out what they offer and compare apples to apples. Find out where their data centers are located. A Data center is a room filled with computers called servers. These data centers are connected to the “cloud” or internet and this is where your website resides.

If we can liken it to a holiday gathering with family. The domain is what the holiday is and the host is the address of the family members home where the holiday will be celebrated.

SLA
Source: Intermedia.com

One clear thing to look at is what is called their SLA (service level agreements) which defines the boundary of where they are contractually obligated to serve up your site to the public and where they will be held at fault. This is usually represented using a percentage value. For example, a 99% uptime is a common one, and seems GREAT but think about it. Do the math; there is 525,600 minutes in a year; 99% would leave 5,256 minutes of down time. So, this means that they are allowed 87 hours down time before being held responsible.

Another important item a hosting company should offer (at this point out of the box no additional charge) is SSL.

HttpVShttps
Source: Cloudflare.com

Which is an abbreviation for Secure Socket Layer. I will not bore you with the details as to what it fully is, but just share that this makes your site a little more secure and gives you the ability to have the little “lock” symbol show and use HTTPS:// (secure) versus HTTP:// (unsecure). The HTTP transmits data in raw format, so when someone fills out a form on your site – the data transmitted to the server is totally readable by a hacker. HTTPS makes that data unreadable and much more difficult to translate for the hacker.

III.       Your website.

The design of your website is beyond the scope of this blog. Colors, logos, images, wireframe, coding, etc. makes this part of the conversation very hard to focus on one detail, of course all of them are important but for sake of this blog we are going to share why we use and advocate the use of WordPress.

There has been a push to use a service to design your site such as WIX. WIX seems to be the go to for many churches these days, however this can hurt more than benefit. Yes cost and simplicity is a great attractor, but as we shared before – you get what you pay for.

One key issue with using WIX is ownership. WIX does not give you the code of your site if/when you decide to go to another host and use the site. Yes, that means IT IS GONE! Unless we help you and redesign the site to look exactly the same as it did in WIX. Can we do that – YES! Except for the images which may be licensed to WIX – we can build a site to look exactly like what WIX has. The PLUS to that – we give you the code. After the design is done – the site is yours – we don’t hold you hostage.

Another key issue we have seen in using WIX is their source coding. There is A LOT of superfluous coding in there that refers to WIX not you. This slows down your site and when it comes to search engines – hurts you and empowers them tremendously.

So why WORDPRESS? Well first we are not speaking of wordpress.org and building a blog site there. We are speaking of the backend application, which is still part of WORDPRESS, but it is open source. Which means that it is free.

This back end of WordPress has the ability to search through 1000’s of plugins; some free, some for a nominal cost depending on their function. Also it allows for Search Engine Optimization that is all about you not someone else. The visitor WILL never know that it is a WordPress backend site.

wordpress
WordPress Admin Screen

The pluses are that it can operate as an amazing website using pages, but then also a blog for your ministry all at the same time. Then with the plugins which again are mostly free – provide you great tools  to create email lists, develop a bible study, stream live on your site, embed your YouTube videos and more.

These features are not included out of box or are limited with the services companies.

We are iPowered Church and we are here to help your ministry succeed in having clear understanding of your digital footprint. 

DISCLAIMER: Keep an eye out we will share more – next topic the importance of LOCAL SEO versus global SEO.