What if, using a smartphone app, you could respond in real time to someone from the Philippines working in Dubai who stumbled on to your website with questions about how to deepen his/her prayer life?
In my last prayer letter I shared about some of the projects we are working on in Digital Strategies in Bridges. One of those projects was the redesign of our public website for Bridges International. During the course of our redesign, we worked hard to evaluate and plan for the purposes the website should serve. While our most basic and urgent need was an aesthetic update to our old site (it was ollllddd!), we didn’t merely want to put a new face on the old site and simply leave it at that.
During this period, our organization also endeavored to undergo a rebranding effort (primarily with the logo). Like our website, our logo was somewhat dated and some of our research showed that many of the students we were working with didn’t like the old logo or connect with it in any way. As a part of that process our team spent some time really going back over our present identity as an organization (who are we as an organization) as well as our aspirational identity (what type of org do we want to become). Our three “S’s” remained prevalent in our identity statement and we used those as our guide in designing the new website. On our homepage you can see that those 3 S’s:
- Social Connections
- Spiritual Conversations
It was our hope that not only our staff, volunteers and involved students would live out these 3 S’s, but that our website would too!
A key moment in development came when I was on a phone call with a long-time friend who works in the Cru global headquarters for Digital Strategies. During that conversation, he was telling me about some of the things he’s learned over the past couple of years with Indigitous.
The moment of impact
One of the things that really resonated with me is that too often we create digital content and put it out into the wild for people to consume but in many cases at the moment of impact, our design fails to give the user a way to engage in a relatively short timeframe. Those moments of impact are golden. They are where we want to be present. They are quite possibly the very moment in which the Holy Spirit has touched someone’s heart through media and/or web content and sparked a question or a change in their thinking!
Within that same conversation he then mentioned a real-time chat application called Tawk.to that could be added to websites. And the basic service is free! Free plugin? Free app? Within a day we had the chat application loaded on our site and not long after that, visitors to our site begin to utilize it to ask us questions about Bridges in real time! Since then it’s really been an exciting addition to our website.
We realize we live in a “now” culture and while that may at times have negative affects on our society, we also have an opportunity to integrate a feature that would allow us to answer questions in the “now.” After turning the feature on September 4th, we’ve had people text in with all sorts of questions from all over the world. Currently there are 2 of us responding to the requests and between us we’ve chatted with people from the Philippines, Dubai, India, Panama, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China and more.
It’s been an amazing change for our site to go from static content to a venue for conversations to occur.
Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to engage in significant conversations with people in this way. In the past, the moment where someone was interested they’d have to click a link, write and email and wait for a response.
Over the winter break we’ve also added the chat app to our Winter Conference website. While implementing it, we found that Tawk.to had some features that would help us to serve our conference in a new and digital way that we hadn’t thought of before. Tawk.to not only has the ability to empower multiple agents to respond in real time from a (also free) smartphone app, but within it you can also set up different departments of agents to field different categories of questions! This year we’re going to start small by creating an InfoDesk department for general conference questions, but also a Spiritual Questions department as well. It’s our hope that through this tool no student will leave the conference without having the opportunity to engage with a live person with the spiritual questions they are being challenged by at our conference.
With this chat application we can engage with people (and you could too) at the moment of impact — at the time when they are initiating with us to find out more about God! Did I mention it’s free? Check it out at http://tawk.to and feel free to message me with any questions you might have.