Why the Digital Footprint Initiative?
The Digital Footprint Initiative (DFI) was developed by the Michigan District to improve a ministry’s visibility on the web. It is rooted in the research that shows that about 85% of first-time guests choose a church to visit based on a visit to the website. Many congregations in the District have websites that are not engaging to visitors because they are outdated or were not developed with a communications strategy and modern design aesthetic. An assessment of congregations revealed a number of contributing factors including:
- A lack of skilled volunteers;
- A lack of willing and trained volunteers;
- A lack of ownership for the task among the staff and leadership;
- Poorly written or non-existent content;
- Insufficient funds for improvements;
- Conflicting design philosophies, and
- Conflicting goals for the web presence.
While each project is unique, the timeline below provides a rough estimate of the processes and their flow through the development of a web presence. We have had some ministries complete a website redesign in about 14 days and others that have taken four months. The most significant impact on the development of the website is the responsiveness of the ministry to the process.
Frequently Asked Questions
The District provides the DFI service free of charge to the ministries of the Michigan District. We do not charge for the development of the website, nor do we charge for hosting the website or the email hosting of up to four email addresses associated with the ministry’s domain. The congregation will need to have a domain name, or it will need to purchase a domain name from a name hosting provider. The cost per year for a domain name can be as little as $9.99. However, the average fee to maintain a domain name with a name host will be about $15.00 per year.
Security is a critical aspect of any web presence. Of primary concern to a congregation’s website are the threats posed by outside sources, such as hackers using malicious code or the threats posed by corruptions in the internal systems. The hosting company that we utilize for the DFI has a robust set of tools and protocols designed to detect and eliminate obvious threats to the system from malicious programs and hackers. However, no system is foolproof. To minimize the threats from outside hackers, each user is strongly encouraged to follow the best practices for computing safety including the use of strong passwords and the avoidance of phishing schemes via email, text messages, or social media. Internal data corruption generally requires a rebuild of the website. Our hosting company keeps a monthly backup of the entire server. This backup allows us to recreate the websites should our server go down. We also provide a tool that enables each ministry to make regular copies of their website and related data files so that a new website can be rebuilt in just a few minutes, should that be needed. It is the responsibility of each ministry to make regular backups of their site.
For more information you can contact the Rev. Dr. Todd Jones at: firstname.lastname@example.org or, to sign up, complete the online application found at https://michigandistrict.org/digital-footprint-initiative-contact-form/