The Meeting Website: Signage for the 21st Century

A workshop in Bloomington-Normal, October 24, 2009

Presenters:  Peter McMahan (WebRite), Bill Esler & Beth Burbank, Northside Friends Meeting

Over the past two years, when Northside Friends polls new attenders on how they found our Meeting for Worship, the answer with increasing frequency has been, "Online." In fact, for the past year, the discovery of Northside Friends Monthly Meeting has been almost exclusively through our Website www.northsidefriends.org. The pace of awareness of Northside has increased dramatically more than 500% more awareness — since we relaunched our website in December 2008 with a state-of-the-art platform.

Noting this shift, Northside has devoted its outreach to the Website. Online is not a substitute for human interaction, but a facilitator of it. It has become a vehicle for communicating and recording organizational activities.
  • Administration is true to Quaker principles: not hierarchical and centralized, but diffused among interested parties
  • The cost to use the platform for the website is nominal.
  • Content is structured into multiple components, and with different levels of access:
General public: (news, events calendar)

Guests: (friends of Meeting are also given access to minutes)

Members and active attenders: (additional access to Minutes and meeting directory)

  • The intention is that news of the Meeting is published principally online, then digested in an occasionally-published print newsletter.

By regularly presenting interesting and fresh content, statistics show that the site becomes more visible, through online search engines and cross-linking, to those seeking information about the Religious Society of Friends.

In this workshop you will learn:
  • How to evaluate a web platform
  • What it means to move to Web 2.0
  • How to establish what you want to present to the world
  • Creating Meeting policies for access and permission
  • How to evaluate web traffic patterns, optimizing your site for search and building web traffic
  • How your website can facilitate the Meeting community
The Website workshop will take place on October 24, in Bloomington-Normal.

This workshop is for more than just those Friends who are engineers! Ideally, we'd like to see both computer-savvy Friends, and also Friends who are merely word-people — those Friends who actually update the information online with such things as minutes from business meeting, committee reports, calendar announcements, etc.  The sky is the limit for what creative uses of an active website design your meeting can make.  We hope each meeting will send several Friends to learn from what Northside Friends have implemented so successfully.

BRING YOUR OWN LAPTOPS FOR HANDS-ON LEARNING ABOUT THE WEBSITE SOFTWARE.

Stay tuned for more information about overnight hospitality in Bloomington-Normal on Friday and/or Saturday nights.  In the meantime, mark your calendars today!

ILYM Committee on Ministry and Advancement
Contact: Beth Burbank