Even before I joined the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions officially in February of this year, we began talking about the need to refresh the current ALSBOM.org website. While the previous design was great, it definitely was showing age in several ways.
Studying our analytics (how people use our site) we discovered that a growing amount of users are using mobile devices such as iPads and mobile phones to access ALSBOM.org. The previous design relied on flash technology in some areas that did not translate to these devices, leaving a blank space on those pages. We knew that we would need to incorporate html5 programming so that we can still have moving objects on our site that would work on computers and mobile devices. There is now zero flash on the site. If it moves, it’s written in html5 language so that it can work on all devices.
The previous site was based on a smaller screen resolution than what is typically used today. When viewing our site in its native size, there was a lot of room at the bottom and on the sides. Also research shows that people are willing to scroll down a little bit for content within reason, expanding our potential space even more. The new site now better takes advantage of these changes.
Over time, as we outgrew ALSBOM.org, several other sites had been created. Each site had its own unique feel and address and in some ways seemed to divide us in our external marketing. Also, with so many sites and only one person dedicated to working on our websites and social media, it was easy for some of the smaller sites to get lost in the mix for maintenance. It was decided that to better reflect us, these sites would be incorporated back into ALSBOM.org, sharing some resources, but in many cases still maintaining a unique look and feel. At the very top of the new site, you’ll notice tabs that go to some of these previous sites like GreatCommissionGPS.com, and SBDR.org. Also, RickLance.com was integrated as a blog while TheStudentHub.org, OneMissionStudents.org and the student ministry blog formed one new site.
Back in 2008 when the previous ALSBOM.org was introduced, social media was in its infancy. Now, it’s a necessity as we use it daily, not only at ALSBOM but in our personal lives, to communicate with our friends and family. Not only do you find links to our social media pages at the top of every page of the site, you’ll notice that you can share any content you find via share buttons located at the bottom. On our home page you will even find feeds from our Facebook and Twitter feeds. You might even notice a picture area at the top of every page which is intentionally very similar to the cover photo that you find at the top of your Facebook page too.
We researched many sites from the largest corporations to local Baptist churches and found ideas that were cutting edge, yet comfortable for our average user. An example of that is our mega menus. Including these has allowed us to bring ministry areas to the surface, digging them up from beneath the office structure required knowing how the ALSBOM staff is organized. We also wanted to emphasize that our audience is churches within Alabama and therefore we needed our site to feel comfortable and easy to use for people that are already used to visiting church websites.
We’ve introduced several new items too that you may have seen integrated in the previous ALSBOM site as they were developed for the new site. All of these are free or low cost items that you can use for your web sites also:
– Google calendars have been used to develop event calendars for each ministry area. They also serve as a central event calendar.
– Wufoo was integrated to use for event registration and forms.
– Our relationship with Paypal and its credit card payment integration through Wufoo has been a greatly used new resource.
– Mailchimp was brought in as our e-mail marketing tool so that you receive the content that is most relevant to you and where you serve. Its integration in Wufoo has proved extremely valuable too.
– We still use YouTube to share videos, but most all of the videos we have produced are now available through Vimeo. Vimeo adds the ability for you to download any videos you may need to use in your ministry, when you need them. Plus with Vimeo, we can control the environment surrounding our videos so that objectionable content isn’t accidentally accessed.
– With so many areas for photos to be shown on our site, we had to come up with a solution for storage and sharing. Flickr was chosen and our library of event pictures is still in its infancy but growing! These images are available too for churches to download freely and use as needed.
In the end, what you see now at ALSBOM.org is the culmination of nearly nine months of work and the combination of seven websites and more than 1,000 pages of content. None of this would have been possible without the full support of Executive Director Rick Lance, Missions Support Team Leader Bobby DuBois and Communications Coordinator Doug Rogers. These guys bought into a vision drawn out on a sheet of paper and trusted in our partners at Details Communication and myself to make it happen. I’m personally very proud of the work that has been completed on this project and look forward to finishing up a few more tweaks to where I can feel it is 100% complete.
I hope and pray that you find the site to be a useful resource today and for years to come. I hope and pray that it helps to further your ministry and that it meets its goal to represent our motto: One Mission-The Great Commission; One Program-The Cooperative Program; Many Ministries-Great Commission Ministries.