COTM.info: Not just a digital bulletin.

Let’s make communication with the weekend church attendee a bit easier! Nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket or purse, let’s use it to help the church and its people get more connected.

There are three things you need to consider:

  • who’s your audience?
  • how can you solve this?
  • what did we learn?

(And for those of you who want some tech details about COTM.info, those are posted at the bottom)

THE CHALLENGE

People are busy. They have lots of things vying for their attention. And every weekend, they show up to church and we ask them to juggle even more info. “Download our app.” Or “Visit our site.” Worse yet “Keep this bulletin.”

This CAN be easier.

OUR AUDIENCE

It’s important to define who your audience is... without a good understanding of WHO you’re talking to, it’s impossible to solve the problem.

Our audience is sitting in the auditorium. Not trying to be cute here... but I mean THAT’S our audience. Not the people search for a new church. Not the family driving by on a weekend. But the actual people sitting right in front of us.

We wanted to build an easy-to-use way for them respond to whatever the opportunity is... follow along with message notes, find a small group, join an outreach... anything at all.

We’re not minimizing those other audiences... but we have other touchpoints to reach them. Our main website, our app, Facebook, Twitter... lots of other venues to make sure they find what they need.

But when you’re in the middle of a weekend service, do you really want to ask them to go download an app? Do you really want to ask them to sift through a website that’s probably more focused on people searching for a church?

HOW CAN WE SOLVE THIS?

Smartphones are everywhere. The Web is everywhere. Why not build a small tool that let’s us use both to better communicate?

Have you ever built a site only to realize you’re tying to cram everything about your church into one place, and then realize no one can find anything?

Simplify the mess.

That’s why we defined our audience specifically as we did... that let us focus on the most important thing: creating a common call-to-action for our communicators and our church family.

COTM.info is the place we point nearly everyone to when they need to interact with COTM. Some key factors in it’s success:

  • it’s an easy-to-say URL
  • it’s made for your phone
  • it’s easy to use
  • it’s flexible
  • it’s easy for others to maintain (yay!)

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

In the 18 months it’s been online, some important lessons have been learned:

  • Keep it simple Don’t get clever with nav labels, keep it straight-forward and easy to understand what’s behind that next tap.
  • Keep it brief No one wants to read tons of content... keep it short and to the point.
  • Keep it clear If you want people to sign up, TELL THEM. Don’t beat around the bush. Make your ask clear and upfront.
  • keep it thumb-friendly This is a mobile experience first and foremost, so keep everything thumb-friendly.
  • Keep testing Technology changes, a lot. You’re going to need to revisit what you thought was bulletproof.

We’re currently on the third iteration of COTM.info, and as we continue to learn how we need to use this avenue, it changes our ideas about what this tool should really be.

Colophon: The technology behind COTM.info

We built this to scratch our own itch. Since then, others have come alongside and build similar tools, using other methods.

Here’s a some info about our approach.

COTM.info is not a site per se, it’s more of a Web app. It’s built using Laravel, and pulls content from CraftCMS though an API. The UI is built in Vue.js and is styled with CSS. All of the log-ins and people-management stuff is provided from our ChMS (an in-house platform called MOVE) through an API.

Tools:

Okay... questions? Comments? Push-back? Love to hear it... just drop it in the comments below! Better yet, if you’re coming to Seeds Conference, let us know! We’d love to connect in person!

comments powered by Disqus
Greg Vennerholm
Design Director
Venny serves as the Design Director for Church on the Move. He brings his passion for crisp, clear design to everything he works on at COTM, which includes interactive and print projects. His 25 years in the agency world did not, however, prepare him for the ridiculously fast pace of Church on the Move.
@gvennerholm