You can have a great church website. There are 5 simple rules you must follow.
Mark MacDonald · January 5, 2017
3. Do the heavy-lifting for your congregation and community.
Every person coming to a website wants to spend the smallest amount of time possible. You, of course, want them to stay as long as possible. Instead, you need to do the extra work so your web user doesn’t have to.
What should you do for them? You know your church much better than most, so you need to weave your ministries together so they make sense and explain them as simply as possible. Then subtly connect every page or module to the thread concept.
Practically, make sure every page/module has links to find more information if they want it. Think like an outsider who simply wants information, and then lead them around your site with links at the bottom of each page to take them to the next place they should look.
Through consistency and professional presentation of content, people will connect with your brand and they’ll want to interact, filter content, and leave personal information for you. Be sure they have easy ways to engage when they want to.
The web experience starts with you taking the time to organize your website properly. That means a simple menu that makes sense. Like a filing cabinet with 5-6 drawers where everyone would know where to find the smallest detail in each drawer, it needs to be obvious.
4. Simplify everything. Part of the heavy lifting required for a church website is editing. Edit your menu to the fewest items possible. Edit your content to the smallest amount of words possible (remove every nonessential thought and word), limit your videos to 2 minutes or less (with links to the full content if they want it), and edit photos so they are simple and quickly understood.
Rarely will you find someone who wants complexity when they’re seeking solutions. Simplify every page and module so they can discover everything quickly.
Be sure to lead them to an action throughout your website, and ultimately make sure they know they’re invited to your church services and events. Ensure that your directions and service times are on your home page. In fact, the header is a great place for this so it’s on every page.
Most congregants are looking for event details while the community is looking for a brief description of who you are, who the Pastor is, and what to expect if they come. Say it all simply.
5. Be Found. This is where the magic happens. A simple website, set up with a common thread uniting your ministries, well-utilized keywords, and directed at a particular audience will be perfect for Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines. They will help people discover you!
Internally, make sure everyone knows that they can trust your website. It sounds crazy, but most church websites are hard to navigate, too complex, and have information that’s not accurate.
What’s the response? Congregations turn back to the trusted, printed bulletin since it has a process and person who maintains the content.
Start reducing the size of printed communications and direct people to the website for the details. Refer to your website often so everyone understands it’s the go-to communication source.
Want some examples of churches who understand great website communications? There are many to choose from. To be unbiased, these aren’t produced by our team so they don’t have the obvious threads like we’d like; but they are very good, simple and responsive church sites:
http://www.fbcjonesboro.com is a recent branding and website project that we produced (and the church is maintaining the content). This demonstrates how a thread should be obvious and controlled throughout a site.