Telling stories, making pictures, demonstrating values.

We’ve had this conversation many times – if you are going to talk about your values you might also show your values by telling the stories and taking pictures.  It’s easy to say we care but let’s see the evidence.  This is a case for taking websites beyond basic information and make them more emotionally engaging.

Many website are full of facts and information but where they really come to life and spark a connection is when we tell inspirational stories. Images are really important and can help deliver emotional impact – a quality missing on many websites.  Talk to any newspaper editor and the human interest story with a great picture wins every time.

In fact getting the human element into an online presence is vital these days. A static and informative website is useful but will have limited value as a promotional or outreach tool.  Good websites will show that you are alive and well, they will have passion for the subject and an open door to conversation.  There will always be a call to action.

At the Woodhouse Community Centre we have a partnership with the Leeds Bread Co-op. The Bread Co-op website I think is terriffic. The design elements are so lovely and there is a real sense of passion for bread making, and their social values really shine through.  There is an openness about the co-op with social media updates and the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter. There’s also an integrated blog. Take a look at the Leeds Bread Co-op here.

As well as working on a couple of school websites and the one for Woodhouse Community Centre, I’m busy looking at the site for All Saint’s in Ilkley. In my view church websites have such great potential as meeting places for the community.    St Peter’s in Addingham nearby have quite a neat website. Theirs has been designed by Ichicoo Design in Bingley.  The site is easy to understand and on the front page you can clearly see what it is, who they are, where they are.  They have their values on the front page and an up to date piece of news.  For my taste there isn’t enough photography integrated with the text but it’s great that they have such a presentable site. How could they develop the site to have more emotional impact?

The big challenge as far as I can see is getting great stories onto our websites.  Once you have a professional design and some key pieces of information in place, what next?   Surely we must be able to engage visitors in a much more exciting and vital way than simply passing on information.  A telephone directory or a bus timetable are about as exciting as some church websites.

So here we have the  nub of this – how can we show people what we believe and convince them we are truly alive?

Published by Mark

Mark Waddington is a former BBC broadcaster and producer. He now works for the Diocese of Leeds as Urban Mission Officer. If you would like to get in touch email mark.waddington@leeds.anglican.org

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