I go to the Biola Digital Ministry Conference every year I can. I think since 2007 or so I’ve only missed once (it used to be known as The Christian Web Conference). It is a fantastic time to learn, innovate, and connect with other like-minded people who are excited about ministry and the web.
The Aim and This Year’s Theme
This year’s conference is June 5-7 at Biola. Here’s the aim of the conference:
The Biola Digital Ministry Conferenceis designed to empower individuals with the vision, knowledge, and relationships necessary to be thoughtful designers, developers, and practitioners of digital technologies for the cause of Christ.
The theme this year is “The Disruptive Nature of Digital.” The sessions will focus on three key topics: theology, strategy, and technology.
That’s incredible because so often, ministry conferences focus only on strategy and tactics. But they will be focusing on the theology and philosophy of digital ministry as well.
What I’ll Be Talking About
I will also be speaking there again this year. I’d be highly recommending the conference either way, but since I’ll be out there, I’d love to see any of you as well.
My message will be: Practical Usability: Why So Many Websites Frustrate their Users and How to Make Your Site a Destination that People Actually Enjoy.
Last year I gave a theology of usability — why it ought to matter greatly to us to make our websites usable, and the (very interesting) biblical basis for doing so. This year I’m going to dive more fully into the nuts and bolts: how do you actually create a usable website? And how do you do this in the midst of budget constraints? I’ll talk about the core fundamentals of web usability, which we built the Desiring God website on the basis of, and practical principles that are at the core of almost every easy-to-use website.
Also, I love questions, especially super hard ones. So bring your questions on usability or ministry web strategy in general, and we’ll take some time to interact with them.
And, if anyone is interested in getting together to talk in more detail about ministry web strategy while out there, contact me (see the tab above) and I’ll see if we can pull a meal or something together.
The Essential Importance of Usability
Here’s one way to summarize the importance of usability: free is not enough. Even if you post all your content online for free (which I highly recommend!), your content will still not serve people or spread to the extent it can if your site is not usable.
Good content is not enough, either. You have to make your site usable. And, this comes from actually understanding usability and knowing how — you can’t just do what you think will be good. You have to actually know what you are doing.
Other speakers include:
- Drew Goodmanson (CEO of MonkDev, creators of Ekklesia 360)
- Chad Williams (CEO of Five Q)
- John Mark Reynolds (professor of philosophy at Biola and founder of the Torrey Honors Institute)
- Brett McCracken (social media manager at Biola University)
- And many others
Here’s the article I wrote back in 2007 at Desiring God on why every ministry should post all of its content online, for free, without requiring registration, in a maximally usable interface.
And here’s the message I gave at the conference last year: