It was long overdue, and it is finally here! This is our third version of westlight.org. When our church was planted in 2005, we weren't quite sure what the purpose of our website was. A little known fact - the same weekend we launched, a very exciting video streaming website also launched and it was called YouTube.
All we knew was that we needed a presence on the web, because YouTube taught us that the current generation had so many reasons to dwell in the web. So we hired a web designer and went live.
At the time, we had a few pictures and a few important informations for visitors. It did what we wanted it to, but as we began to discover that we wanted to use our website to communicate updated information to our congregation, we realized that we could no longer have a website that got updated through a web designer. So, we created a site that was easy for the pastors of Westlight to update.
Our second website launched in 2009 and was beautiful. It was clean and easy to navigate. It had a simple browsing menu and it had beautiful graphics. We also began posting our sermons. For a while, we had people who visited our Sunday services because they stumbled upon our website! We couldn't be happier.
However, we came across a problem that we did not anticipate - the rise of smart phones! Since our site was Flash-based (and the iPhone was not), it did not work well. We found ways around it to make it work, but it wasn't a solution we loved.
As we continued to track the trends of the web, we began to notice that more and more Americans were surfing the internet through their mobile devices than their workstations. We knew we needed to update our site. We also didn't want to just change the site without much thought, so we began keeping track of how people utilized our site.
Over the next few seasons, we discovered there are three types of people who visit our site. First, the seeker. They are considering coming to our church and have no clue who we are. They want to find out what kind of clothes they ought to wear, what kind of songs we sing, and how long our services go. The second type is the listener. They want to listen to our sermons. Once they arrive at our website, they go straight to the sermon media player. The third type is the one that wants to connect with us. They ask the question, "What is going on this week?"
So, today, we launch our third iteration of westlight.org. It is mobile-device-friendly. It is built around the three main types of visitors - it only takes one or two clicks to get to you desired page. There is less clutter. We love it!
However, our site is not finished. There are a few more upgrades coming in the next few months. For one, you will notice that our media player is exactly the same as the one from before. While you can still listen to our sermons on the go, we are still looking for a better solution that will work seamlessly with your smart phones. We know its not wise to release a site that is unfinished. But, everything is functional. We saw many benefits to releasing our third generation website now than later.
We'll keep you updated with the additional features we will be adding in the coming months!