This content was originally published on Capterra's blog.
Tim Simms, Director of Technology for Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Md., knew it was time for a new church website.
Since 2014, total users have increased by 36%—from 57,000 to 77,000—and the website averaged about 14,000 visits per month in 2016.
With about 4,000 members to serve, Bridgeway needed an internet home that could serve its growing community, continue to attract new members, and spread the church’s message of building bridges.
With an audience eager to connect, Bridgeway needed a professional website and church management system capable of opening lines of communication beyond its local community.
“We found this to be a really good time to bolster some of the capabilities that we have,” Simms said. “We need to be able to speak to (visitors) in a way that they’re ready for and are accustomed to.”
The Church Website of the Past
Bridgeway’s old WordPress-based website, built in 2012, worked fine. But its limitations became evident as the Bridgeway community grew.
“We had outgrown the design,” Simms said. “It was a basic site for that time … (but) what we really wanted was a system that gave us more flexibility.”
Enter Solodev, an Orlando-based “enterprise content management platform built for the Amazon Cloud,” according to CTO Shawn Moore.
Churches “have evolved from static websites that had the schedule and the About Us pages,” Moore said. “Historically, church websites were very cookie cutter, like ‘Let’s get the guy down the street to make me a WordPress template’ … churches historically don’t do web experience.”
Church Websites of the Future
Simms, who has more than 20 years of web development experience himself, worked with Moore and Solodev to develop a new website that would not only address Bridgeway’s current needs, but would also be ready for the future.
“Our competition isn’t the church down the street, or even the church in a different part of the country,” Simms said. “Our competition is the other things that people go to. We can provide content that is relevant to the needs that people have.”
Based on their collaboration, Simms and Moore determined five key initiatives to address in Bridgeway’s new website design.
1. Dynamic Content
The most noticeable feature of Bridgeway’s new website is the dynamic storytelling on the front page.
A bold announcement advertises Easter services at Merriweather Post Pavilion. A player embedded in the bottom right corner beckons the visitor to watch BCC TV. A timer counts down to the next live service. Scrolling down, the visitor finds a Story Room featuring dozens of testimonials of life transformation. Every click brings more opportunities to interact and experience.
“We have a lot of content to share, so being able to do that and manage it well is why we went down this path in the first place,” Simms said. “[We’re] taking the video assets that we have and pushing them out to relevant places so that people can get a true multimedia experience.”
A new multimedia scheduler made mass content scheduling more efficient, and a custom landing page manager made it easier for Bridgeway’s web team to tailor specialized landing pages for different events and audiences.
The next step for Bridgeway will be rolling out advanced user experience management features so that the content is customized based on the viewer.
2. Improved Security
Simms’ second biggest concern with Bridgeway’s old website was its vulnerability.
“Security was a huge factor,” said Simms, who felt much more comfortable using a third party “versus having an open source system where we needed to be on top of that ourselves.”
Because Solodev is cloud-based, Bridgeway’s new website is protected by the world-class security of Amazon Web Services.
“The cloud allows us to not have to worry about the infrastructure,” Moore said.
3. Cloud Infrastructure
In addition to added security, a cloud-based system also allows Bridgeway to expand and contract in response to changing needs.
“They have the ability to scale up, scale down, scale vertically, horizontally,” Moore said. “Website traffic is going to keep going through the roof as we find more ways to integrate the offline experience with the online."...
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