First UU of San Francisco
Photo by Justin Ennis https://www.flickr.com/x/t/0095009/photos/averain/

Imagine if your church sign was only visible to half of people driving by your building.  What if only half of the local phone books or half of the local newspapers listed your congregation?   If your congregation’s website is out of date, it can’t be easily accessed by half of the people who are looking for you!

We have reached the tipping point where 80% of internet users have a smart phone, and over half of Google searches are performed on a mobile device (including tablets). In response, Google is changing their search protocol beginning April 21, 2015 to use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.

This means that if your website it not mobile-friendly, it will be practically invisible to more than half of your potential visitors.

What you can do:

  1. Check to see if your website is mobile-friendly.
  2. Share this blog post with your “webmaster” or congregational leaders.

 

Resources:

Updating Your Web Presence: Tools and Tips

A free, mobile-friendly UU WordPress Theme (updated 4/19/2015)

 

About the Author
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Leadership Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I have a vision of Unitarian Universalist congregations being led by thousands of diverse, spiritually mature and passionate people ready and willing to spread the good news of liberal religion.  I believe ministry is best when shared between lay and professional leaders. More information about me can be found on the UUA website.
  • Hey Renee, just wondering if we can be more mindful of the scare tactic language that is all over this story these days. Sites won’t become invisible, they just won’t rank as highly to mobile users if they aren’t mobile optimized. If they search ‘Schenectady Unitarian’ you’re still going to come out on top whether your site is mobile optimized or not. Relevant results will still outrank irrelevant ones. Invisible and down two spaces are not the same thing. That said, we should be making our sites accessible and mobile friendly anyway – but let’s do it well over simply doing it fast.

    • vitalleaders

      You make good points, Christopher! I often try to find metaphors for non-techie folks to understand, and this one is probably a little too strong. It’s always a challenge with a blog post to decide which tone to take (humorous, alarmist, anecdotal, etc.)

      • Totally understand the struggle to get people to pay attention to these things in congregations (I struggle with the same all the time – my own congregation’s site is egregiously non-mobile and inaccessible). I just worry that the more apocalyptic or hyperbolic we get, the less credibility/trust we have in more measured conversations. Love that you’re getting congregations looking at their websites as first points of contact though – that’s a very necessary conversation.

        • Tim O’hare

          Although I agree our congregation websites are important, I saw a recent article that people 65 and older can be internet averse. We must also market ourselves in traditional ways as well.

  • Mark Bernstein

    This is an extremely helpful article, Renee. Thank you.

    • vitalleaders

      Thanks, Mark!

  • Lois Reborne

    Thanks for this heads up. I tested our site and indeed we failed on a variety of counts. We are on WordPress, so I am checked the link you provided for the free UU themed page. WordPress has a warning that the theme is two years old and may not still be compatible. Do you know any more about that? Is it going to be updated?
    We are a micro congregation in a very rural area. We only have one member who does not use the internet. We have at least four who only have an emergency cell phone and several more who do not use a smartphone. Among those who use smartphones, one very active member uses only her smartphone – and has limited data and minutes. It is a noxious gap that causes much misunderstanding both in congregational communication and in our use of the internet and social media to promote our congregation.

    • vitalleaders

      Thanks, Lois! I’m checking with the person who designed the page.

    • Dan Flippo

      Hello, I am the author of the theme and my last release was in Jan, 2015 so they must be having an issue with WordPress.org. The best place to read about the theme is http://uuwp.org. More congregations have been switching recently and that site has a link to the site where you can request support help. -Dan Flippo

      • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke

        Thanks, Dan!

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