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First Impressions: Improving Agency Websites GMI Connection - Issue 12 : Article 2

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First Impressions: Improving Agency Web Sites

 

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“Cool, toned colors.”

 

“Not mobile-device-friendly”

 

“Slideshow is interesting”

 

“Wants to get people plugged in immediately”

 

“Too much information”

 

 

These are just a few of the first impressions of mission agency websites reported by prospective missionaries through GMI’s 2013 Agency Web Review. 

 

For future missionaries, the web is a tool for discovering cross-cultural opportunities and quickly evaluating which agencies may be a fit. 

 

For mission agencies seeking broader reach in mobilization, websites are essential to attract and qualify prospective workers.  They deliver a variety of messages simultaneously: the needs of a hurting world, the opportunity for fulfilling adventure, the requirements for service, the value of a supportive community—and why people should take the next step by completing a contact form.

 

While every agency is unique, the nearly 400 future missionaries who responded to the survey made it clear that some of the 29 agency websites reviewed are more engaging and motivating than others.  Overall, for example, 37 percent of reviewers said they were likely to pursue opportunities with the agency whose website they reviewed—but some sites motivated more than 60 percent of reviewers to pursue opportunities.

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Mission communicators eager for ideas to improve their web presence can mine dozens of recommendations detailed in the 59-page aggregate report, available in the GMI online store for $49.99.  They will learn what makes a website likeable—and how that differs from the qualities that make a site motivating.  They will discover the five basic agency website visitor profiles and how the information needs of a “Scout” differ from those of a “Tourist.”  They will learn whether having a site perceived as “simple” is good or bad. 

 

A few other highlights from the report:

  • Agency websites were fairly well liked— 61 percent of reviewers indicated they would be somewhat or very likely to return to the site. 
  • Agency websites outperformed agency Facebook sites for overall appeal.  Only half of Facebook page reviewers agreed that agencies regularly replied to comments posted on their page.
  • Content/design areas with the most room for improvement:
    • clearly explaining service requirements
    • communicating with a relational style
    • emotionally engaging use of media, and
    • clearly explaining what to expect after someone completes the agency’s contact/inquiry form.

“This study offers real-world intelligence about how agency websites are perceived and what potential missionaries are looking for when they visit. The data in this report is a must-read for any recruiter or communications staff member involved in mobilizing believers into mission,” said Jon Hirst, President of GMI.

 

Some agencies will have received enough reviews that an agency-specific report can be produced, providing comparative statistics as well as open-ended comments from dozens of reviews.  Webmasters can write GMI to inquire about their agency.

 

The report commends two standout agency websites: New Tribes Mission for a site with great overall appeal and Africa Inland Mission for a site that motivates people to action.  A great step for those interested in improving their website is to observe how those two sites communicate.

 

The Agency Web Review is original GMI research—a syndicated project initiated by GMI as a service to many organizations that have similar needs.  GMI manages a panel of several thousand prospective missionaries who have offered to share their opinions on occasional surveys.  Those interested in conducting future research among that audience can write GMI for more info

 

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