New website: More info, easier to find
Find stuff fast: Our new website is loaded with great information — and it's all easy to find. Give it a try!
Jim Killam
April 21, 2021

If you’re reading this, you’ve already found First Free’s new website, conveniently located at the same address as the old one. You’ve noticed a few cosmetic changes — a new color scheme, bolder fonts, easier to read text. But it’s much more than that. More than a year of careful thought and hard work mean it’s now far easier to find what you’re looking for.

The site was developed by Communications Director Nathan McDonald and Aaron Biby, local web designer and an elder at First Free. The old site had lots of content, but over time it needed better organization.

“There were just too many things to click on,” Nathan says. “We haven’t lost any of that content. We’ve just organized it better in the main menu so that the pages are a lot cleaner and they help you focus, instead of all these things trying to draw you to other pages and other things.

“Once people understand the new structure, they’re going to be able to find their stuff a lot quicker.”

Seasonal spotlight

The homepage will change every few weeks. It will focus on the biggest opportunity for the broadest audience—always emphasizing ways to worship, grow and serve together. Currently the focus is our May 22 Big Day of Serving, because we want everyone to get involved, regardless of age and ability.

Follow the burger

No matter where you are on the website, you can always navigate anywhere else quickly. Just remember: hamburger. Really. In the upper right corner of your screen are three horizontal lines. Web designers call this “the hamburger” because … well, use your imagination. Click on the hamburger and you’ll get a complete site menu.

So, for instance, say you want to find the sermon notes for your Life Group. Click the hamburger. Under “Resources” you’ll see “Sermons + Study Notes.” The sermons are grouped there by series, so you simply find the week you want. If you want to register your kids for Summerama Day Camp, the link is under “Programs.”

If you want to find out what time a special service or event begins, click the hamburger, then the Calendar link under “Events.” (Events also list current COVID-19 guidelines.)

If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, try using the new and improved search bar above the menu.

If you want to give, or find the latest message, there’s an even faster way. Those links appear in a gray bar at the top of every page. Whether it’s your regular giving or an extra, one-time gift for something specific (like the Baby Bottle Drive or Angel Tree), the “Give” page is your starting point.

Go deeper

Some sections have brand-new content. For instance, the Culture section (under “About”) includes a short video message from Pastor Luke; our vision and mission; a link to the EFCA statement of faith; and even a page called “Why Rockford” that explores First Free’s long history and mission in our community. The Culture section is a great stop for someone new to First Free, but it isn’t limited to that.

“I think this is also a great page for people who are already part of the church, just to get a refresher,” Nathan says.

The Worship page has info about all of our venues, but then also includes videos, with music or interviews, and also a volunteer section if someone wants to know how to join the choir, orchestra, worship band or tech team.

And of course, the Stories section—the blog—gets new content every week.

The best way to find out any time there’s something new on the website is to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter. Click the hamburger, scroll to the bottom and click “Subscribe.”

Help us troubleshoot

Every new website has little items to fix or refine. If you find a broken link, a typo, or anything else that doesn’t quite work right, please call the church office at 815-877-4046.

Jim Killam
Jim Killam is a journalist, author, teacher and terminal Cubs fan. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Rockford and work internationally with Wycliffe Bible Translators.


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