Personality Goes a Long Way: Using Your Website to Tell Your Congregation’s Story
by Robin Riegelhaupt
I recently went to the website of a musical revival that just opened on Broadway. When I clicked on the cast bios, I was delighted to see that not only could I learn what other shows each cast member had been in (which is typically listed in the Playbill), but I could learn fun facts about them, like what they sang for their audition. This gave me a feel for the cast’s personality and it also said something about the show: this show is about community and people connecting with people. That’s the personality reflected by the website, and having seen the show, I can tell you it’s a perfectly accurate reflection.
That’s the ideal synagogue-website relationship. The website should tell your congregation’s story. That doesn’t necessarily mean it should have a detailed history of the synagogue, beginning with its founding and dutifully leading up to present day (although that’s fine to have on the site); rather, when visiting your website, people should be able to get a sense of how they would be welcomed if they showed up at services at your congregation. Prospective members should be able to tell if there are people like them at your events, and current members should see the photographic evidence of the fun. Your website should tell visitors all the fun facts about your congregation – all the great things that make your congregation unique.
But why should this information be online and not in, let’s say, a brochure? Think about it: When you’re seeking information, where do you look first? These days, the answer is almost always “online.” Whether you log on to your favorite search engine, open your preferred newspaper’s website or check in with your friends on the various social networking sites, you know the information is online and that’s where you go to find it. So it makes sense that your congregation’s website would be the first point of contact for current and prospective members. As your congregation’s new front door, your website–what’s on it, who maintains and contributes to it and where everything “lives” on the site–is your greatest ambassador. Let your ambassador show off all the color and life of your congregation – let it tell your story.
Want to learn how? Join us for the Biennial learning session “Using Your Website to Tell Your Congregation’s Story” on Thursday, December 15 at 3:45 (session block D), featuring presenters Isti Bardos, Temple Israel, Memphis, TN, and Alan Zeichick, Peninsula Temple Sholom, Burlingame, CA.
Robin Riegelhaupt is a Writer/Program Bank Manager/Digital Media consultant at the URJ.