Your website is your first impression.
It’s the online front door of your church.
More often than not, people will check you out online before they will check you out in person. Love it or hate it, it’s reality. And churches would be remiss to ignore this important fact.
Yet many do.
Many church websites are, well, awful… Uninviting. Outdated. Underutilized. They offer unnecessary information and make the important stuff difficult to find, if it’s there at all.
Your website should be a reflection of your church. It should convey your DNA, culture, and values, so people get a sense of who you are from your online presence. It should be welcoming, engaging, and informative.
So what are the most important elements to a church website?
For me it boils down to a few key must-haves:
Clearly Visible Contact Details
The following should be visible on every page of your site:
- Street address (with a link to Google Maps)
- Phone number
- Email address
- Facebook and Twitter links
Don’t make people dig to locate how to find you or get in touch with you.
Easy Access to Relevant Information
It should be very easy for people to find what they are looking for. Keep the navigation clean and simple, with the most basic of details easily accessible. Address the questions people are most likely asking as they peruse your website. Here are a few basics:
- Service times
- Children’s and youth ministry information
- What to expect in a service
- What you believe
- Past messages (audio or video)
- Leadership/staff bios
If the pastoral team blogs, include their personal blogs and Twitter links in their bios. This gives people the opportunity to get a feel for the leaders of the church and the various ministries they lead. The more they know about a leader, the more connected they will feel.
A site that isn’t maintained with up-to-date information implies stagnancy. Keep the content current and clearly visible on the home page. This encourages repeat visitors to the site as it looks fresh and updated each time they come.
- Blog the latest church news
- Highlight upcoming events
- Include the church’s Twitter/Facebook feed, and make sure both are being actively maintained
Good Graphic Design
Because your site provides people with their first impression of your church, you want to be sure it visually represents you well. But sometimes in an attempt to be innovative or unique, websites end up being cluttered and difficult to navigate. Don’t try to be fancy or even original. Just keep your site clean, neat, and focused.
Remember that while design is important, it’s not the reason people are visiting your site. They come looking for specific information. So provide it to them, and make it easy to find while still visually appealing.