If the Olympics are going mobile, then why not your Church Website?

If the Olympics are going mobile, then why not your Church Website?On August 8th, the eyes of the entire world turn towards Beijing. Some on their TVs, others on their PC newly equipped with the Silverlight plugin. Then there will be those stuck in a line at the store or waiting at a restaurants who will be keeping up with the 2008 Summer Olympics via their mobile phone.

And though some may complain their pastor’s sermons are indeed a marathon event, that’s still no reason why the content on your church and/or charity website shouldn’t be made made available and readable to an ever growing community of mobile readers.

Here are 5 things you can do to quickly bring your organization’s on-the-road browse-ability into the 21st century:

  1. Render your content in simple, semantic HTML – or better yet, let your content management system do it for you. For example, if you use WordPress as a content management system on the cheap, then not only do you deliver valid XHTML but can effortlessly transform it to WML with any number of nifty plug-ins;
  2. Create a subdomain – be like Yahoo, who makes access to their mobile content easy to remember and access: http://m.yahoo.com … Google also does this with a simple /m path after their domain name, but I like the subdomain approach the best. Even if it is nothing more than a redirect to another page or html to mobile rendering application.
  3. Check your work using a variety of browser-based tools, here are four for FireFox that will allow you to consume your content posing as your favorite mobile device:
    • wmlbrowser – Add WML markup support to FireFox;
    • XHTML Mobile Profile – Add xHTML MP support to FireFox;
    • User Agent Switcher – Use this plugin to send the user-agent string of whichever mobile browser you want to emulate. ZyTrax offers a nice list of mobile user agents you can load up and test using this plugin; and
    • ModifyHeaders – Allows you to spoof headers. Use this to add an x-up-subno, x-wap-profile, etc. header to your FireFox browser session so your app thinks you are coming from a network operators proxy.
  4. Remember to keep your sermon and calendar of event page titles pithy, powerful and to-the-point in 128 characters or less. Also consider adding driving directions to pages that go to mobile;
  5. Once you get the above done, advertise it in your new letters, your Sunday bulletins and other places.

As I’ve said in past articles, as more and more of your church members and/or seekers go mobile, so must your content. Meaning, if you’re still rocking like it’s 1999 with FrontPage, consider these recent postings on this topic:

Here are a few more articles of interest describing the disruptive technologies on display at the 2008 Olympic games: