The role and design of church websites are in constant flux, much like how the way people use the internet and all it provides changes.
Years ago, the church website was the primary way church members viewed photos from their most recent events. Now that happens on social media. That’s why it is important to regularly review your site and ensure it is offering what viewers want and expect.
This guide will help you make the tweaks you need to get the most out of your church website.
1. Design for the visitor
From social media accounts to email newsletters, church members have many streams of communication. Keep your website focused on visitors.
The homepage doesn’t need a link to the minutes from the latest committee meeting. Instead, it should have clear paths that provide a sample of what attending your church is like. Gather and present the most important information a person needs to make a decision about visiting your community in person.
Look through each page of your site with the eyes of someone who doesn’t go to your church. Are there words that need to be defined? Are there acronyms that may be unfamiliar to potential newcomers?
2. Think mobile first
UMCom can help you
The United Methodist Communications Local Church Services team can help with a range of online services, including website building, web hosting and church-branded emails.
Members may browse the church calendar from their desktop, but the vast majority of visitors are on the go. They may be multitasking while exploring your site on their phone.
Design and test your site for the mobile experience first. It is OK if website adjustments look and work better on a smartphone than on a desktop. Don’t prioritize desktop over smartphone!
3. Fewer words, more power
We’ve all received an email from a company (or church) that is thousands of words long. When emails — or web pages, for that matter — have too much text, much of it gets ignored. Get to the point. You want your site to be effective at connecting with people and encouraging visitors.
You want a high readability factor on your website.
Go through your homepage and main information pages and be fearless with the delete key. Make it your goal to cut half of the words on any given information page. Then, make sure you craft the remaining words well. Tell a story, a short story.
4. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words
Pictures often tell more of your story than any of the words around them. Unfortunately, many church websites tell the wrong story. Many have a picture of the church building on the homepage. Some have similar pictures of other rooms or even an empty sanctuary.
This can give the impression that the church is more about a building than about people. If people want to see what your building looks like from the outside, they can look on Google Maps. Show them a welcoming community of people who are making a positive impact in the world.
5. Add a call to action
Visit several big company websites and you’ll notice that they all have a call to action very close to the top.
A bank’s website might show a person using its app along with a button that reads, “See your money differently.” An electronics brand will very likely have a button with the words “order now” or “learn more.”
Your church website needs the same thing. Maybe you’d like to invite people to “experience deep community” or “find your spiritual home.” Put your call to action close to the top of the page. Hyperlink it to help visitors get to more information or make your desired response.
Aligning your website with how most people use the internet will help you be relevant and impactful. With a couple of changes, you can increase your ability to spread God’s love and grace in your community.