3 Tips to Spruce Up Your Virtual Front Door
Have you visited your church website lately? Probably not, right? You already know the service times, the topic of last week’s message, and the church statement of faith so why bother?
According to a study by Gray Matter Research, up to 16% of those who’ve visited your website in the last year do not attend worship services regularly at any congregation. In other words, these are people who are likely interested in finding a church home or perhaps are curious about faith. The church website is the new, albeit, virtual front door and first impression of your church.
If your church website isn’t easy to navigate, looks outdated, or doesn’t answer the questions potential guests are asking, you’re potentially missing out on reaching people. We don’t have the luxury of making a good first impression at a physical location anymore. We’ve got to start by making a great first impression online. So, does your church website look old and outdated? Can someone who’s never been to any church before find the information he needs? Are you answering the most frequently asked questions?
If you’re not sure, here are a few tips for evaluating your church website:
Tip #1: Make it easy to find answers to common questions
Most people are looking for a few key pieces of information when they visit your church website:
- Service times
- Church address / location
- Statement of faith / what we believe
- Denomination affiliation (if any)
- Who is the pastor? What’s his/her background?
- What does the church offer for children? Will my kids be safe here?
Make it easy to locate these items with a “New here?”, “About us”, or “What to expect” page. Thom Rainer has a great post on this topic called “Seven (Plus One) Deadly Sins of a Church Website”.
Tip #2: Ensure your site looks professional
Did you hire a professional to design and build your website or did you get someone to do it for free who sort of knew what he was doing? That decision will be obvious in the look and feel of your site.
Now, you may not have a couple grand to spend on a high-end site. However, with free (or reasonably priced) WordPress themes you can get a professional-looking site up with minimal website experience.
Like it or not, people will judge your church based on the appearance of your website. If your site looks outdated or is difficult to navigate, they may never actually visit your church based on that first impression. Invest the time (and probably a bit of money) to make this first impression a positive one.
Tip #3: Ask a variety of individuals to give you feedback
Your church website may be easy to navigate for someone who’s been involved in church since childhood, but what about an adult who is just now interested in faith?
Is the design appealing to one generation but repulsive to the next?
You won’t really know unless you ask several people from different backgrounds to look at your site and offer feedback. An easy way to do this is to ask first time guests if they visited your website and if so, what they liked / didn’t like about it. Ask a few of your high school or college students for their input. Talk with couples with kids, senior citizens, and single adults. Also, visit the websites of other churches. What information or features do they have that you don’t?
Our churches are evaluated 24/7 by people visiting our websites to see if they want to visit our physical location someday. Make sure you’re making a great first impression by putting the time, effort, and money into creating a site that’s professional and user-friendly.
For more information, check out these resources:
33 Best Church WordPress Themes of 2015 – The Velocity Ministry Management website is built using a premium WordPress theme. I paid a one-time fee to purchase the theme and do almost all of the updates myself. I do have some technical knowledge (a bit of HTML, etc.), but am certainly not a programmer. Bottom line here: WordPress themes make it easy to have a professional looking site without hiring a developer.
50 Great Church Websites of 2015 – Visiting other church websites can spark ideas and help you decide what you want to change on your own site.
Improve Your Church Website This New Year – This article at the ChurchTechToday.com site offers great tips on how to advance the functionality of your site.
What challenges do you face in keeping your church website looking great?