Earlier this year the national Digital Communications team at Church House in London produced a report on how to get the most from the new 'A Church Near You'.
A Church Near You is the online information portal accessible to all churches across the country. Each church can own its own page and keep it updated with the latest information about what is happening.
It is a powerful tool and receives a lot of visitors ... people wanting to find out what is happening at parishes local to them. It is particularly popular at Christmas and Easter.
It was decided recently to work to enhance the site for maximum impact and to create new features, including adding church schools into the databanks and a new analytics feature showing the number of page views each week.
There are two phases to the project, with the second phase offering parishes the opportunity to use 'A Church Near You' to create their own bespoke website.
The Digital Team spoke to 1,800 people across the country to gather insights and thoughts on how to make the service much better for a site that receives over 13 million page views each year.
Using this feedback the designs are now complete and signed off, and the work of building the site is well underway for a launch in November 2017. Key new features for phase one include:
Churches will be able to add extra information to events and services, such as a location other than the church, times, accessibility and contact details. This will enable churches to showcase their one-off services out in the community or parish away days outside the church building.
Space to include information about the facilities the church has, from a post office to foodbank or Alpha.
Churches will be able to see the number of page views their profile gets each week, month and year thanks to a new analytics feature built into the logged in view.
Users will not only be able to search for their nearest church – and now Church of England school – but they are also able to filter the search to show results that include key features and facilities they are looking for or need, such as accessibility, car parking or service type.
In phase two, churches will be able to turn their simple page into a full church website – even having the option of using a unique URL, or the URL of their current website. From the launch in November, profiles will already begin to look far more like a website, with editors able to add pages, images and customise the tiles on their profile.
The digital team is keeping in regular contact with A Church Near You editors as they prepare for launch and the site will also sit at the heart of the national Christmas campaign under this year's theme of #GodWithUs.
If you have any questions about the project, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org