Pros & Cons of Online Directory Services

Pros & Cons of Online Directory Services

When choosing an online photo directory program, several factors come into play. Top characteristics include security, cost, user-friendliness, the ability to add data and photos, and “extras” such as communication functions. 

Keeping these features in mind, we reviewed some services marketed to churches and pastors. With the proliferation of online directories, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting for your money. 

A to Z Directories 

PROS 

  • This directory app is very comprehensive, and members can verify their information online. 
  • The company also prints directories for customers. 

CONS 

  • The complex app requires a lot of “clicking” and may confuse users. 
  • Third-party advertising appears throughout the app—unless you’re willing to pay more. 

Lifetouch 

PROS 

  • This company has a long history of providing high-quality paper photo directories for churches. 
  • Lifetouch takes the photographs of church members for you. 

CONS 

  • The mobile directory is internet-based, not an app. 
  • The church’s physical address doesn’t appear in the online directory. 
  • A free mobile directory is available only for churches that purchase a paper directory, at significant cost. 

Online Church Directory 

PROS 

  • Church members can use the app to update their own information and profile pictures. 
  • The app includes a group notification feature at no extra charge. 

CONS 

  • For larger churches, this app can cost more than $300 per year. 
  • The app has no group-texting feature. 

Instant Church Directory 

PROS 

  • Ease of use, from church members being able to upload photos for approval to administrators being able to send quick texts or emails to members. 
  • Variety of ways to share the directory via PDF for a traditional printed directory, mobile apps for phones and tablets and an online members’ website.
  • With yearly billing, the app costs just $95 with no additional fees based on church size, and church members pay nothing. 

CONS 

  • As a directory-only service, there’s limited use for exporting or manipulating data. 
  • Although there’s no church-size limit, directories with fewer than 1,000 families load faster. 
  • Users can’t send attachments through the email program. 

We hope this brief overview assists your decision-making process. With all the options now available, one “size” may not fit “all.” But taking time to investigate directory features and consider your church’s particular needs will lead you to a picture-perfect choice.

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Author Bio:

Stephanie Martin

Stephanie Martin is Senior Editor of The Newsletter Newsletter, a publication from Communication Resources, Inc. She’s spent her entire 27-year career in Christian publishing, writing and editing materials for congregations, youth groups, and church leaders. At her Denver-area church, Stephanie has pitched in with everything from teaching Sunday school and organizing VBS to counting offerings and writing grant proposals.

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