Pacifica Synod knew it needed a new website design to keep up with the times following the departure of its part-time communications director in June 2015.
The ELCA synod, which is comprised of Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial and part of Los Angeles County in Southern California as well as Hawai’i, hired a member of one of its congregations to create the new website within a tight budget. But the venture didn’t go as plan.
The developer abandoned the project a half-year after starting it, leaving Terri Robertson, who was hired as a part-time communications director in November 2015, and the synod high and dry with a half-functioning website.
So, starting back at square one, Robertson started a new search to find a company to finish the job. She heard about Faith Growth from other ELCA Synod communicators and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network and decided to give it a chance.
And after one meeting with Faith Growth owner Christopher Harris, Robertson knew she had found the company to complete the task.
“I appreciated the fact that a team of professionals would be working with our site development, especially given the difficulties with working with a solo designer,” Robertson said. “I liked the fact that I would have input into the design and that training was part of the process. I especially liked that the goal of the process was to turn this over to us to manage and maintain on our own.”
Harris said Pacifica represented the perfect client to showcase what Faith Growth can do.
“I consider Faith Growth a ministry and not a website development company,” Harris said. “We understand the technology at Faith Growth and we also understand the church. I speak geek and I speak church. I understand what it’s like to be on a church staff and the unique communication things and I understand our adjudicatory system.”
“We’re uniquely positioned to help organizations like Pacifica do that effectively.”
Because of the work, Pacifica had done with the other developer, going through the discovery process turned out to be a lot quicker.
But there was still one big decision to make. Since Pacifica had a tight budget, Robertson and Harris decided to go with changing a premade theme to match the synod’s logo. After looking at several other themes, many of which contained large featured images, the two settled on the Outreach Pro theme.
“The Outreach theme, while having pictures and different colors matching their logo, offered some good design, but it wasn’t too modern and it just made it easy,” Harris said. “The navigation was right across the top, plain and clear. We have the big slide so they can highlight things. Then we had some callout boxes for some of the things that they might be looking for on a frequent basis. Outreach matched pretty well.”
With the designs sorted out, work began on the new site in November 2016 and was taken live the next month.
Harris said the most rewarding part of the process was helping Pacifica get back on track after a rough experience with the previous developer.
“We were able to give them a good, solid foundation in place to make that communication happen and to make their daily interactions with the website easier and their jobs easier,” Harris said. “If that’s easier then we’re helping to spread the Gospel we’re called to share.”
Pacifica’s new website is now a one-stop shop for leaders and congregation members looking for information and documents. The website has sections for congregations and leaders, covering everything from job listings to congregation forms, which comes in handy for those in Hawai’i two hours behind the synod office.
Also, Pacifica also has a place to share its faith journey online. The homepage shows their latest blog posts about what’s happening within the synod, and an events calendar to keep members of synod aware of what’s coming up.
Robertson said the website is still evolving for them. She splits her time between being the accountant and registrar for the synod in addition to her communications role. But she has some ideas on how she wants to mold the website to continue to meet the synod’s needs.
“I consider it still a work in progress to have people trust it to have the info they are looking for,” Robertson said. “I’ve received many compliments about the look and ease of finding information on our website. I’ve got ideas for ways to expand our website to provide resources and information that I see people looking for and I will continue to work on that in the weeks and months ahead.”
Visit Pacifica Synod’s new website –> http://www.pacificasynod.org/