Did you know that Ash Wednesday is the busiest traffic day for parish websites? Catholic Tech Talk informs us that is and gives some tips on how to get ready.
First, are your Ash Wednesday mass times updated on your website? Let’s make sure the website we’re responsible for have their mass times updated and make sure you include Ash Wednesday mass times as well. Don’t just put Mass Times for the weekend and then a more generic “Holy Days” or “Week Day Masses”. Ash Wednesday technically isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation and a more general descriptor saves you a little work in updating the site after Ash Wednesday, but it can cause some confusion with your parishioners. Plus, your website will get some added SEO benefits by having the words “Ash Wednesday” on your site depending on what a person searches for.
Second, don’t hide your mass times schedule. They’re the number one reason parishioners go to your website. To see the other reasons, check out this blog post. Put the mass times right on your church’s home page. Don’t hide them down on menu level 4, put them right there on the main page for everyone to see.
You can do more to prepare your website for Lent as well. The Church Mojo website recently had “10 Steps to Prepare your Church Website for Advent” and many of them are obviously applicable to Lent too.
Their first tip is to setup a permanent URL for your Advent or Lent content, something like http://www.stjosephholbrook.org/lent. (This is a page in progress for my parish.) This is where your Lenten content will live every year, which means that people will have a memorable place to come back to when looking next year and the year after. On that page you can collect everything you’ll need to share about Lent: Mass times for Ash Wednesday and Holy Week and perhaps changed daily Mass times for Lent; additional Lenten prayer opportunities like weekly Stations of the Cross or new Bible studies; links to Lent reflections and prayer resources; and so on. This could be information already in other places on your site that you’re also pulling together here as well.
They have other excellent tips as well.
Remember, the parish website is not just a bulletin board, but an excellent tool for communicating with both parishioners and those who might be seeking Christ. Open wide the virtual doors of your parish to Christ this Lent.