Last month, we took a look at what is needed to begin a collaborative website or blog. For this post, I’ll share a few of the tips and resources that helped the team I’ve worked with to create a solid launch that continues to go strong.
You’ve pulled together your team, and due to busy schedules or varying home locations, you need some way to sustain team alliance and forward movement in the development of your site.
We used Basecamp for discussions and to share documents. With this or a similar service, each member is easily able to track team members’ ideas or questions.
Choose a few discussion threads that are pertinent to your project (the site). Besides additional topics that were unique to our team, site, and ministry, we started with the first few in the list below and gradually added the others:
- Vision/Vision Statement
- Our “Audience”
- Mission Statement and Values
- Permissions for Articles
- Imagery for Online Use
- Site Blog Header and Branding
- Hangouts (discussion meetings)
- Site Categories and Tags (site)
- Social Media (to promote site)
- Site Menu Items
- Site Resources
- Bios (later the “Our Team” tab)
- Blog Posts/Editing
I found that three to five active discussions felt do-able. More than that can be overwhelming. Flesh out an area and move forward into a newly created discussion thread, especially if one seems to have run out of steam or taken a different direction.
You might find that a monthly scheduled live discussion is needed where you can all be together. If distance is a problem, use a service like Skype or Google Hangouts for online “face-to-face” meetings. Create an agenda ahead of time and set an agreed-upon ending time. Make room for creativity, laughter, and team building as well.
Elements of the Site
You’ll need at least one member of your team that feels comfortable with and has the time to facilitate or develop the site structure. If not, of course you can hire someone, but do so after the team has worked out the details of mission, branding, and content. Design, including colors, images, and logo, should reflect the tone of your mission and values.
WordPress is gaining a lot of ground with professional businesses as well as in ease of developing and maintaining a unique site on your own. My team’s blog uses WordPress.com as its host with the Forever Theme, and we have great customization choices for a small yearly fee. For my personal business site, I use a highly customizable theme from Elegant Themes and host my site through Blue Host.
Once your site publishing system and host are in place, you will begin to develop the page structure of your site. These will include at the minimum: landing page content, “about” page, info/resource page, and blog. Explore site examples together and dream, then choose which pages will be your launch pages and gradually work toward that dream.
In the discussion thread topic ideas above, I listed other elements that you can layer into the logistics, design, and content of your site. Consider what you need for your unique site, but most of all, build a great team while you’re building an amazing site.
Ground all of of this in prayer together. Be creative and have fun!