A church website can tell you a lot about what you can expect should you attend and become a member. So, if someone visited your church's website, what do you think their expectations would be?The days of simply listing the bios of your pastors and staff along with a statement of beliefs are gone. If you're goal is to attract new people to your church (growing churches are biblical, by the way) then you'll need to have more on your site to appeal to those would-be visitors.
According to Census.gov, 2007 ACS data showed that once person in the United States reached the age of 18 that they were projected to move 9.1 times through their lifetime.
So, along that person's 9.1 stops, when they search for churches in your area, will your show up AND will it be appealing enough to lead them to attend one of your services?
The best church websites maintain a delicate balance though of attracting visitors and delighting members (steps 1 and 4 of the inbound marketing methodology).
While there may be smaller details that could be included on your church's website, these are the 9 important things that the best church websites have. I've also included the primary audience (Visitors or Members) that benefits from each feature.
I've seen too many church websites that look like all of their information was just thrown on the home page. It looks busy and confusing and visitors are like to bounce (leave the page they landed on without clicking to another page) and you've lost an opportunity before they've even darkened the door.
Your design will also tell visitors whether you're trying to reach their generation or not. While I would never recommend nor build a website to look like everyone else's, there are some emerging trends that should be acknowledged as best practice for being clear and creative in your communication.
Finally, your menu navigation should allow visitors to get to the content/feature they want in as few clicks as possible.
The rise of image-driven social networks and HDTVs should be a clear indication that people like well composed images and videos and they like them in high resolution formats.
I'm not saying that your church website should cater to those surfing the web with 4k monitors. However, having low-res media comes off as lazy and that there is a low standard of excellence in what you do. The newest iPhone can shoot in 4k for crying out loud! You have no excuse.
Pro Tip: Your images need to be light-weight as well as hi-res so as not to slow down your loading time on each page. A resolution of 1920 X 1080 will work in most cases.
Your weekend services are your main event. While small groups and other special events have their place in the growth of your church, that weekend service is your Super Bowl.
Regardless of the number of services or locations, This information should be displayed in easily found places on the site; bottom right of the footer, top-half of the homepage, on the Contact page, or a separate menu link (for those of you that are multi-site churches).
I know that talking about money and churches in the same breath can create a lot of tensions. However, Jesus talked about money in more than half of His parables - so it might be something that needs to be addressed.
Giving in church has evolved a lot over the years (even heard about a church passing the cardswiper in a service once). Given the technology available, you should make this as frictionless a task as possible.
I would recommend SimpleChurchCRM if you're looking for an all-in-one platform that includes secure giving.
Regardless of your choice of system it should include the following features/benefits: secure, simple, and able to report a person's giving overtime.
Small groups provide great opportunities for members and visitors to connect to a community of faith in an interactive way. Shouldn't it be easy for people to plug into one?
Depending on the size of your church and how your small groups are organized, you will need to assess the best method to display your active groups on your website.
This can range from a bulleted list on a single page to using an interactive listing that is organized and managed by your church management software. (SimpleChurchCRM and others have this function)
Regardless if you're church website has 2 pages or 200 pages, someone is always going to have a question that they couldn't find or didn't want to take the time to look for. So, provide an easy-to-find and easy-to-use contact form.
The form should be able to automatically send the information to an email address that is frequently monitored. This could be monitored by the church admin or director marketing/communications in most cases.
Pro Tip: Responses to a submitted form within 24 hours or sooner should be a mandatory requirement. A quick response is likely to dramatically increase the chances that the website visitor takes the next step and physically visits your church.
I know I said that you shouldn't just list these and let that be the end of your site's information. However, it doesn't mean that it shouldn't appear somewhere on your church's website.
Clearly stating your vision can go a long way in helping visitors evaluate if your church is somewhere they can attend and want to participate.
Listing your beliefs allows visitors to dive deeper into understanding the foundations of the church. It also helps members gain clarity around what is being taught each week.
Again, this shouldn't be the only thing on your site, but it should absolutlely be listed. Knowing more about the leadership of a church can help visiors create a connection to those that will be teaching and preaching to themselves and their family.
Trust is a key element in any organization, but it is especially important in non-profit organizations - like churches. Increasing their knowledge of the leadership will help visitors gain some measure of intimacy (a trust builder) while remaining annonymous (people like feeling safe).
Churches exist to love people into a relationship with God and encourage them along the way, right? Well, do you really think that 75 minutes once or twice a week is enough?
That's why starting a church blog, publishing videos, making your sermons/messages available online via podcast or YouTube, are great ways to keep speaking life into people even after you've finished talking.
Not only that, but you'll also start to build an audience that can be loved and encouraged far beyond the walls of your church and the limits of your city.
Pro Tip: Producing content on your church website on a regular basis is a great way to build your SEO and move your site up the Google Search rankings. This could make the difference the next time a family moves to town and searches "churches in YourTown, USA".
A website is never a finished product. It's a living, breathing part of your team and, if you pay attention to it, can get you big returns on your investment - both time and money.
You may have a few of these things on your site or none of them. Whatever the case, pick one and add it to your site in the next week. (most of these would take your web/IT person less than that to add)
As a church, you should be doing everything with excellence and as if you're doing it for God himself - that includes your website. The best church websites are usually run by the churches seeing the most growth. Help your church grow!
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