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How to Upgrade Your Domain Name


Do you know what would be an effective upgrade to your domain name?  Kenny Jahng and DJ Chuang discuss some key questions: Why is upgrading your church's domain names a smart move? What's actually involved in switching domain names? Kenny and DJ run down a checklist of things you need to take care of and pay attention to regarding a successful domain name transition and upgrade. Have you considered changing your domain name? Now might be the right time to consider it or add a new one to your church communications repertoire.



.church is a top-level domain name used by tens of thousands of churches like www.canvas.church and www.life.church to connect and engage with visitors online. As part of the Identity Digital portfolio, .church domain names come with added security and phishing protection.


Search for .church at www.name.church or your favorite registrar. Use the promo code UPGRADE DOMAIN NAME at www.name.church for a discount offer made available to CTT community members.


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The following is a machine-generated transcript of the audio. We've been testing the NueralText online transcription service. Now, as you know, Machines < Humans so these transcript notes won't be 100% accurate. Probably more like 80-95% accurate. Hopefully, this will help you scan the episode content to get the gist of the conversation. Enjoy!

[00:00:00.910] – Kenny Jahng

Hey friends, it's that time again. My name is Kenny Jahng, and this is the church online podcast. Now, today we're going to talk about domain names, domain names, domain names, and why and how, more importantly to upgrade your domain name. We're going to talk about, you know, why upgrading your domain name is a smart move. What's the involved with actually switching domain names? Because many people haven't done it before and then go through basically a checklist of successful domain name upgrade steps, etc. And I've got a conversation partner here that's familiar to our audience, DJ Tron, welcome to the show today.

[00:00:35.960] – DJ Chuang

Hey. Thank you, Kenny. It's great to be back. Domain names. And we're going to get techy on this one.

[00:00:44.140] – Kenny Jahng

I hope so. Sometimes we actually get to nerd out on things, and I think it's one of the things that is the fundamental things that sometimes get assumed that people know how to do but in their jobs. And sometimes they actually never have gotten to this kind of stuff. Now, before we get there, DJ, I just want to do a shout out to our sponsors, church. Church is a top level domain name used by tens of thousands of churches across the world, actually. And churches use a church domain name to be able to connect and engage with their visitors online in a very intuitive way. And the domain name that top level domain name is part of the Identity Digital portfolio. And Church domain names in particular come with added security and fishing protection. And if you're interested in looking up your own to see if it's available, you can go to Church registrars anywhere or go to name. Church name. Church is a great place to start your search for a new domain name. Now, DJ, today it's a little bit like put on our nerd caps on a little bit. In our continuing conversations about digital ministry and domain names, let's take a deep dive on switching from an existing domain name to a new one, which can be apprehensive to a lot of people.

[00:02:03.660] – Kenny Jahng

It seems like such a hassle, right? I just went through domain name swatch swap, registrar swap sometimes complicated, but domain name swap can be a hassle sometimes. Can you take us basically step by step, high level through that process of how to make the switch so people kind of get a sense of all the things that are involved?

[00:02:25.010] – DJ Chuang

Well, we'll go high level and then we'll go deep dive because this is the Church Tech Today podcast. We want to provide some technical information because it is really hard to find the technical information.

[00:02:36.370] – Kenny Jahng

Yes, it is.

[00:02:37.110] – DJ Chuang

And I've been working in this space for about seven years now with the Bible Registry and now with Church and just realizing it's miraculous that the Internet works as well as it does because different words are used for describing the same thing and the same word is used to describe different things in the plumbing of the internet. Domain names are a vital part of the internet that still makes it work for all our devices. Now, with iPhones and tablets and desktops and laptops from high level view, you want to prepare for the switch over from the old domain to the new domain. And that involves a thorough as you can, an audit in a survey and itemizing of all the things that your domain name touches. And so that's what your current domain connects to in terms of websites, in terms of emails, in terms of maybe shortcut URLs, in terms of social media, all those things. You want to capture the account logins, who are the admins and where the current domain name is being used, perhaps even connected to some cloud drives, whether that's Google Workspace or Microsoft family of suites. Exchange all that.

[00:04:09.940] – DJ Chuang

You want to prepare for the switchover. Then take a good look at your new domain name is on the same registrar or different registrar, what's all in the DNS records. Make a good copy of that and prepare for that switch over by testing the switch over. So one of the things that good tech teams do is they actually have a staging site or staging server in addition to what's called the production server, the one that's live on the internet. Now, I know that's going to speak to less than 5% of your audience, perhaps maybe a little more, but 90% of churches or so or 100 or under in size, so they probably don't have a technical person on staff. But we are talking about some very technical things that someone needs to have that understanding in order to make the switch. So this is not something for a beginner or a novice person, but it is possible to learn and it's better hands since it's only done once in a blue moon or less often actually. You want to do it right because there's a lot at stake, right? But it's worth the switch because this is an opportunity to clean up your technical spaghetti and actually make it a nice streamlined process for the future of digital engagement as more and more churches are engaging people on site.

[00:05:39.700] – DJ Chuang

In person as well as online. Because we're in digital lifestyle hybrid reality and this is a strong indicator when you go from an old domain name that may not be serving you as well to one that's crisp and clean. Perhaps even ending in church to strengthen your branding. Third, you want to so after you've tested the switch over, you're ready to go from the old domain to the new domain, then map out your strategy in terms of marketing and notifying all the stakeholders first. So you want to make sure the stakeholders have approved this change. Then you want to start mapping out the timeline of how you communicate this change to your staff, how it's going to impact their email, updating the website, your internal communication workflow, your external marketing and communication workflow, and how you're going to notice that congregation will kind of rollout timeline. You'll want to map that out too. So don't just switch it overnight. Take at least a week to do the switch over. I would suggest making the switch on a Monday because that is probably the least amount of engagement in terms of how churches are engaging people.

[00:06:55.830] – DJ Chuang

Sunday, don't do it on a Sunday. So do on a Monday. You've already mapped out the testing. You've mapped out notifying. But if you do on a Monday, you'll have a full day to make sure everything's still working. And then if you have some left over by Tuesday, you can still type a few loose ends. That way you go into the week with everything working well and tested in a live environment. So that's number four. Make the switch on a Monday morning and have ample time to make sure a few things that you may not have catched caught during the testing phase and during the communication phase that the switch is made. Be sure to notify search engines. You can actually keep all your social search engine optimization equity that you built up from the Google and DuckDuckGo and Bing. You can switch it over by setting up a 301 redirect on your old server, old domain name and then also notified the search engines that you've switched a new domain. And search engines want to know about that and they value that. That's why they've added that feature. So following the instructions for each searching and do that confirm everything is working and then publicize it.

[00:08:19.180] – DJ Chuang

And it's a story worth telling because this rebranding is an opportunity to refresh your branding, refresh your vision, reiterate how this is not only a step technically, but a step into the future or the next step into your church's development as a ministry into a new season and adding some new things that you might also do with this occasion. So some churches I've talked with will use this occasion not just to switch the domain name, not just to switch the vision, but even to switch the branding and even to switch the technical infrastructure. So while you're at it, you might go from a home built box to something that's more cloud based, for example. So instead of running the servers in a closet at the church office, you can actually switch to the cloud, perhaps Amazon or Microsoft Azure or Google. So those are popular cloud based solutions. Yeah. So that's a quick overview and then we can get into a little bit of the technical. I don't want to take up all the time because the technical can go very lengthy, but I did want to touch on a few key pieces, I think along the way.

[00:09:45.490] – Kenny Jahng

I think that's a great overview. I feel like this is one of those episodes that if you have someone technical and staff that you would forward this to them and just to get on the right page, because there's a lot of pieces that you could just start to write down of what DJ sent into a checklist. Now, DJ, here's my question though, I like you alluded to. There are many churches that are small that don't have staff, or they might have staff that take care of the web, but they actually don't know the ins and outs. It's amazing in today's evolving no code environment, there's so many people that I encounter that are working with WordPress sites, but they don't even know what HTML is, right? So what happens if a church doesn't have someone that's technical? What can they do? If they're trying to make the leap from one domain to another? We don't want that to be the limitation, right? If leadership, if a pastor or some comms director wants to change the URL for your website, we should figure out how to get that to happen. It shouldn't be a limitation to get roadblocked.

[00:10:49.440] – Kenny Jahng

What happens if you don't have a psychical on staff?

[00:10:53.210] – DJ Chuang

Well, let me take a step back from that question even before you are able to make the switch over and you might have the desire to make sure you have control over your technical matters in the first place. So while I have your attention, viewers and listeners, make sure you as the church have administrative control and ownership of your digital assets. That's all your social media accounts, you need to have that connected to a church owned email address and password that's secured and locked up in your office, not in the volunteers inbox. Do that with your social media accounts, do that with your domain name. Your domain name is probably the most well, it's one of the most valuable pieces of your digital asset and there's plenty of horror stories of churches that left that to a website company or left that to a volunteer developer and then they leave or they have a fallout with the church. And I remember living in Maryland where a church website was managed by a volunteer for a time and that volunteer had a conflict with the church leadership, the church split and then the person that owned the previous website was able to take it and turn it into an ugly rant against the leadership.

[00:12:36.460] – DJ Chuang

And so you don't want that. As best as you can, make sure the right leaders maintain admin access and control of the domain name. And then along with that, as mention social media, along with that, your email accounts and the admin over that, your website hosting, all these things are very technical, granted, but the actual admin and owner has got to be your church leadership, not your volunteer, not the vendor or church website building company. So that's the first imperative. Make sure you own your digital assets and have control. It's not a tech issue that's a leadership issue.

[00:13:28.930] – Kenny Jahng

Now, I literally just got contacted by a church I went to literally 15 years ago asking me if I had a password to something and they couldn't get into some accounts. And there was also all these photos that they saved somewhere on the web that they remember. They don't even know where that is either. And because I was a volunteer on the media team that point, I was the only one that they could track down. Everyone else has dispersed. And so it's real. What you're talking about is a real thing. And I feel like this is a whole other show, password sharing password, what do you call administration and housekeeping is just a total other best practice that we should be talking about at some point. But anyway, I digress. So let's go back to what do you do when someone doesn't have if you don't have a technical person on staff, what are you supposed to do.

[00:14:27.490] – DJ Chuang

If you don't have a technical person on staff? The next best two next best thing would be a trusted volunteer. So have the trusted volunteer compile the audit of all your access accounts and deliver that in print to your church secretary under leadership and maybe keep it under lock and safe. And then create a second account for admins to actually or moderators and your social media volunteer to post to your website and so on. But ownership gets retained by and then if you don't have a volunteer that's technically competent. And if you need to hire somebody, make sure the company you're hiring provides all the credentials for the logins and things so that again, the ownership is secure for your church. And then because we're in this state of cyber warfare and fishing and hacking, two factor authentication is probably a valuable thing to do, a wise thing to do, although I realize that adds a layer of complexity when you're updating websites and when you're needing to do the content marketing. That's done on a day to day or week to week basis. But in terms of the ownership piece, that should only change once in a blue moon or less often.

[00:15:56.130] – DJ Chuang

So those pieces should be secured and locked away in the rightful hands of the church owner. And then for the ongoing updates, you can adapt your security procedures in a quote unquote more lax manner. But make sure you keep the ownership and have someone technical that can help you, give you that reassurance. And then with the other pieces, you should be able to volunteer. Yes, I want to recommend an online guru, but there's some church friendly, trustworthy people in the church tech Today audience absolutely. Among your contributors. Yes, it can be.

[00:16:38.380] – Kenny Jahng

Absolutely. Our community is amazing. Now, one of the things I want to talk about is not just the technical side but the communications and marketing part. We've talked about this on several projects of actually upgrading that part to follow through on the technical technical. You gave us a great overview walk through of the steps, but then you have to follow through with communication and marketing, I would say without getting super detailed in the what would be the first step or the second step? What's the first one to three things that someone should literally be thinking about when they're talking about upgrading from a marketing communication standpoint?

[00:17:19.990] – DJ Chuang

Well, different churches have different ways of marketing communication. So when I was preparing for this episode, I did some research about how other churches have done it. So one church, a small normal sized church, is just put it in their church bulletin and I said, hey, we have a new church website. Go to this and this and see what's going on. And then at the old domain name they just put a landing page with a bold letter saying here's our new URL, click through to go there. At the very minimum, that's one way to do it. There are many churches that still use church bulletins and you can just turn on a switch and make sure the old domain still works and points to the new domain. That's fairly easy way, kind of a minimalistic way to make the switch, but to be more user friendly. Again, we're talking about serving people well so that they don't get frustrated and they see this as an improvement because we want it to be an improvement. Then you might want to do a roll out. And a good way to do it would be to maybe make the new website.

[00:18:35.380] – DJ Chuang

A beta gives not only your church and your stakeholders and staff, but even the more early adopters and people to kick the tires around to make sure to cover all the possible loose ends that you may not have thought of. And give it a beta period of a couple of weeks or a month and say, hey, would you like to have a sneak peek at our new website and run that as a mirror from your current website to the new website. And this is especially useful if you have a new design. Use it as an opportunity to roll out a new design, roll out a new content management system, roll out a whole new technology. That's a prime opportunity to go ahead and make the full upgrade with the new domain and have everybody retires. And then so give yourself two weeks to a month to roll that out. If you want to do the beta route and then at the end of the beta route, then make the final switch. Make sure all the old domain assets still work so the old domain goes to the new domain. In terms of the web, the old email address is automatically forwarded to the new email address.

[00:19:50.370] – DJ Chuang

So everything still works. But what's actually live and showing is the new domain. That's a second way to do it. And the third way is just give people advanced notice about a week because churches meet weekly basis, right? So a week's notice is ample to make the switch. So, hey, next week we're rolling out a new website. Go ahead and take a sneak peek on Monday and then on Monday you make the switch and just make a notice in your email newsletter, on your old website, to the new website, welcome people and then your social media, just basic ways that you communicate and then making the church announcement too. There's three ways, there you go, three ways to make the switch over depending on capacity and how you'd like to do it that fits your church culture.

[00:20:43.860] – Kenny Jahng

Wow. Now again, this whole process really is an upgrade, right? It's a great opportunity to be more effective and all your teammates, your ministry leaders, to be more impactful in their digital ministry. There's a lot of things to go into these checklists. Do you have a copy of a basic checklist that maybe we can share with the audience today?

[00:21:09.040] – DJ Chuang

Yes, absolutely. I will compile a beautifully written checklist with all that talk about as well as more detail like DNS records, mail server, email server, DNS records, a record, CNAME record, MX record, email clients, FTP. I mean, there are a lot of alphabet soup characters to track down as you itemize, do a clean audit streamline and really make the most opportunity to upgrade your brand and upgrade your technology so people can more better engage and enjoy your ministry online and in person.

[00:21:51.720] – Kenny Jahng

Nice. Well, thank you DJ for slogging through that. I think this is like, again, we don't find this information readily available where you would think that this is readily available because this is the basic plumbing of the internet. It's one of those basic topics because you have to manage a domain name and when it actually happens, there should be more reference points. But I'm glad you're going to be able to provide the checklist as a starting point and start that conversation. We would love to hear from you folks. If you're listening here today and you've actually made a change, I'd love to hear, in hindsight, what's one thing that you would have loved to have known about or thought through before you started the domain switch? Email me at kenny@churchtechtoday.com and I'd love to hear your story and maybe we'll start to compile a list of wisdom that we can share with other members of our audience here in Church Tech Today Nation. Now, if you wanted to actually switch to a church domain name, just a reminder, you can actually look and search for availability. If a church domain name that's easy to remember and easy to implement is available for purchase right now.

[00:23:03.520] – Kenny Jahng

You can go to Name Church. Which is a great register to start with. Or you can go to any place that's your favorite register to pick up your own domain names and try to see if there's any church domain names available for you to pick up. And I guarantee you it probably is one. Two. If not multiple. I feel like there is some addiction to purchasing domain names for many of us entrepreneurs, and so you start to dream and think about all the different use cases that you can once you see what is available. But Name Church is a great place to start, so we'll leave it there next time we're going to come back. DJ and hopefully you're going to help us untangle the idea of managing multiple domain names, right? That could be a beat bot there's a very good and easy way to start to approach those things. A little bit of behind the scenes look from tech side, admin side. I'm looking forward to that conversation. DJ thank you so much for being with us today.

CTT Staff
CTT Staffhttps://churchtechtoday.com
ChurchTechToday is the #1 church technology website for pastors, communicators, and leaders. With the goal to provide insight into a variety of topics including social media, websites, worship, media, mobile, and software, ChurchTechToday aims to shed light on how church technology can empower and position churches for impact and growth.


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