Stop me if you’ve seen this one before.
You go to your synagogue’s website and decorating the homepage are tiny, little event flyers. Minimized from their original 8.5 by 11′ inch size these thumbnails are everywhere. They may be well designed (at least sometimes), with the text artfully positioned on top of a nice image, but in order to see the actual event information, you need to click on the thumbnail in order to view the full-sized version. It says to email such-and-such a person for more information or to RSVP – but it’s not a functioning link that you can click on, so you have to open your email program and type in the email address, or open a new tab and type in the link URL. And you’d really like to pay by credit card for the event, but there’s no way to do that.
This scenario happens all the time. Synagogues prepare event flyers for monthly bulletins or design and print flyers to place on a table at the back of the sanctuary for Shabbat services. And, then without an afterthought, these documents are slapped up on the website. This is where the problems begin. The web is a radically different medium than print. Designing a website is not the same So why do some many synagogues continue to add items
- That’s what has always been done.
- Someone took the time to design the flyer, so we don’t want to hurt their feelings and not use it.
- The staff and/or laypeople don’t have time to come up with unique ways of promoting the event for different mediums.
- What appears in the bulletin should go on the website as well.
Posting event flyers as images on a synagogue’s website is an outdated practice which does more harm than good.
Why should synagogues not post event flyers on their websites?
Event flyers like what I’m describing are meant for print purposes only – a very different medium than the web, with very different considerations. They just don’t work on synagogue websites – it’s like trying to put a square peg in a round hole.
Here are five reasons why synagogues should not post their event information in flyer form, saved as an image, on their websites:
- There’s no way to include links. How many synagogue event flyers have you seen where there’s a link contained in the text, either to email someone if you’re interested in attending, or to visit a certain URL for more information. If you post the event flyer as an image, and someone can only read the text by clicking on the thumbnail to view the larger version, can you then make the links work? You can’t.
- There’s no way to include an RSVP form. If the event requires people to RSVP or purchase tickets in order to attend (which is an absolute must, something I’ve detailed here), can you add an online payment form to the image of the event flyer? Nope.
- It’s not search-engine friendly. Search engines look for words on the page when crawling the synagogue website. If all of the words are contained within the flyer saved as an image, can search engines find them? They can’t – so it won’t come up on Google or the synagogue website’s internal search.
- It’s not social-media friendly. If you want to publicize the event on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, you’ll want a link that you can share – not an image.
- It’s not mobile-friendly. If someone wanted to read all the content in your flyer while looking at it on your phone, they’d have to zoom in and out multiple times in order to do that, which is bothersome and unnecessary. Putting the content on the page lets them scroll instead, which is a much easier action to do and makes more sense with how people actually read content on their phones.
How events should be handled on the synagogue’s website…
…or any website, period.
I take a different approach to posting event information on a synagogue’s website. Here is the strategy I recommend synagogues use:
- Use an event management (calendar) system, preferably one integrated with a payment gateway to allow for online payments if the event is something people need to RSVP or purchase tickets for. This is something I set up on every synagogue website I’ve created.
- For each event, create an entry on the calendar. This is how you create a unique URL for each event – useful for sharing on the synagogue’s Facebook page, or for linking to in the synagogue’s weekly email sent out to congregants.
- Take the text out of the flyer. For featured events – the ones synagogues normally create flyers for – take the text from the flyer, and type it in as text on the page. Not only does this give search engines something to find, but it also lets you add functioning links to the event text – such as to the person who people should contact if they have questions about the event.
- Find an image or photograph for the event. Every featured event, in particular, must must must have a featured image along with it, period. These events can be used in places such as the homepage (photos grab people’s attention more than text), and can also be pulled dynamically by social media such as Facebook (where the same principle applies). How much effort does it really take to go on Google and search for an image, especially something generic for things like Jewish holidays? Not much at all. Or, just use the same image as was originally used in the flyer, since you already have that.
This strategy ensures that the event information on your synagogue’s website will meet modern-day web standards and be tailored to the unique requirements of the web medium.
Contact us today
Does your synagogue need guidance on posting events to its website, or the calendar functionality required to do that? If so, or if your synagogue is looking for a new website in general, contact us today and we can help.
About Hirsch Fishman
Hirsch has been working professionally with websites since 2001, working exclusively in, and focusing on, the Jewish community. Hirsch offers a wide range of website knowledge to his synagogue web design clients from his years of experience working in the Jewish community. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.