We need a new church website! I hear that battle cry often from churches who are frustrated with the current state of their website. I don’t blame them, building and maintaining a church website can be a difficult process.
However, there are some small steps that you can use on your website that won’t require a complete overhaul. Instead these small steps can give your visitors a better user experience and give your website some clear direction. These steps will also ensure that your visitors know what you want from them and it will increase the chance that your visitors will respond. Here they are:
1. Put Your Times and Location on the Home Page
Do you know what the top two pieces of information that first-time web visitors are looking for? Times and locations. That information should be the easiest to access. The best way to do this is to put this info on your home page. (By the way, my church is guilty of this and we need to fix it.)
2. Have Only One Major Message On Your Site at a Time
Every time you post a marketing message on your website, you’re usually asking your congregation to give up either time or money. Now when you have multiple messages on your homepage, you’re asking your audience to commit (time or money) to multiple things.
We usually have multiple messages on a church website, because we have multiple ministries that want their programs promoted. While it may seem like a good strategy to make sure that all ministries are promoted, you actually are doing the opposite. [ctt title=”By promoting everything on your church website, you end up promoting nothing. ” tweet=”By promoting everything on your church website, you end up promoting nothing. – @dgirardier” coverup=”1j_3c”]
Now if you have to promote multiple messages, there is a solution to consider. Use a timed slider that will rotate your messages. This will allow each message to be the singular focus and still give each message its due attention. Here’s what one could look like (click to enlarge):
What’s difficult about limiting your church to one major message is that it requires that you prioritize your messages on your website. The means you’ll need to have honest conversations with each ministry about how much exposure their message will receive on the home page. If you have always given everyone the same amount of promotion that won’t be easy.
3. Create a Dedicated Space Just for Visitors
Your visitors need a space that’s tailored for them. This space needs to be designed for people who don’t know anything about your church. This section should include the following information:
- Worship and Small Group Times
- Location Map with Directions
- Parking Maps
- Childcare Details
- What to Expect for Worship
- Quick Overview of Your Church (Beliefs, History)
4. Make Your Call-to-Action Clear
If there’s only thing you want your visitors to do, what would that be? Does your homepage lead them in that direction? Every homepage should be designed to lead the visitor to a single action. For example, Amazon.com is designed the so that you’ll buy something. For Huffington Post, it’s designed to make you click on the articles. Your homepage should be designed to propel your visitor to a single action. (Again, something that I know my church has to work on.)
5. Make it Easy for other Staff to Update
Do you remember the term “webmaster”? In the early days of the internet, “webmaster” used to mean a lot of things, the webmaster was the designer of the website and usually the only person who could update the website.
Think about that last sentence for a second. There was only one person on the entire church staff that could update the website. Your church’s ability to change messages or alert your audience hinged on one person.
We’ve come a long way since the days of the “webmaster”. For a few dollars a month, a church can set up a website, change its design, make it mobile-friendly, and have multiple staff members edit it from their smartphones.
When you give your staff has the ability to change their portion of the website (i.e. the children’s minister can change the children’s ministry page.), you empower them to be agile and take ownership of their messaging. Yes, it may require some staff training and some monitoring, but your staff will appreciate their newfound freedom.
Sure, these steps above won’t revolutionize your website, but they can help move your website forward and closer to where it needs to be. What steps have you taken to improve your church’s website? Click here to share below.