Luthernet was at the LCMS National Convention in Milwaukee, looking to help Lutheran churches with their website needs. Some folks took cards, some told me their stories, and others came to me for advice, which I gave, only suggesting they recommend me if others asked about a Lutheran web designer or if the experience of self-building their websites got to be too much. Here's a look at some of the discussions I had with church or ministries, the free advice given instead of can koozies (though they were popular).
One gentleman from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Malcolm, Nebraska, was not sure about his church website, so we checked it out together. It was honestly fine. A Weebly site that seemed to work. I was not going to sell him a service, but I still wanted to help, since I noticed the website did not have a top ranking in Google. St. Paul's Facebook page was #1. Good for Facebook, but bad for the church. I did two things to help St. Paul's: add the real website to the default Google+ Page and write this article. That will be enough. They could also ask other sites to add links, and there certainly should be a link from Facebook, but my small contribution will help. An SEO consultant might have asked for money, but I am a Lutheran Church Web Designer, and I know that real SEO is in content that matters.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services had another problem entirely: the website itself was not mobile friendly, and very difficult to navigate from my phone. All I did was give a representative a card with a suggestion to choose a new WordPress template. She thought the website was being redeveloped, anyhow, but that is really all it needed, so that's really all I suggested.
My neighbors in the convention hall had an interesting situation, since their websites were supposed to be more than they appeared to be. Redeeming Life Maternity Home, part of Redeeming Life Outreach Ministries, had a website that was supposed to be mobile-friendly, but Google did not agree. She was going to contact her web designer. Hopefully just a small template issue. The other website was for the church, Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. You might notice that this church website is not only a subdomain, but it also appears to be blocking Google's robots. That's a bad combination, which was explained to the pastor. I told him I saw a setting that could be changed to allow Google to index the website, but getting it out of subdomain status and receiving plugs like the ones in this article can also help. If you are looking for a home for an expectant mother in crisis or a caring LCMS church in Sanford, Florida, then check out the links.
One woman did the website work for her church, and I could tell she was just looking for any tidbits that might help with having to use the Godaddy default website builder. I gave her all kinds of advice, including the most obvious: making sure your main domain points to what you want your homepage to be (theirs was the blog). I gave her about a dozen other tips I don't remember now, but she took notes, so don't worry.
A Lutheran Bible Translations member came over to talk to me, too. He was not looking for free consulting, as he was fairly prepared to pay, but I wanted him to understand where I was coming from and what he would be paying for. My advice had to do with subdomains again, and it's sad to waste lbt.org and ad a us to the front of it, making it look like a .us domain (undesirable). Besides that, an annoyingly large header image, too many categories, and some color issues, and a form issue, it's not bad, and that's what I will tell them, rather than trying to get $2000 for a redesign.
Another gentleman wanted to know how to market himself, but he had yet to even set up a Facebook page. After a fairly lengthy conversation, I finally recommended that he probably try Facebook out for a while before trying to learn WordPress. Since his thing as a traveling artist is to work for free, I knew he likely wanted me to also work for free, and I'd already almost promised that to the Lutheran Church of Liberia, so I wasn't going to create an online portfolio for someone.
I also reminded most people to post content, since that's the best advice I can give beyond recommending myself as the Lutheran Website Builder of choice.