A few months ago, I scoured the web looking for the best church websites. What I found is that the vast majority of churches struggle in the website department. The church website needs to be a priority. Potential guests are going to find you online before ever stepping foot in your building. Your first impression comes long before the service ever starts. In an effort to help you make your website a priority, here are five things that need to be on your church website.
1. A Clear Focus
Before you ever think about the design or the content of your church website, you need to have a focus. Who is the intended audience of your website? What does this audience need? Creating personas (we’ll talk about creating personas in an article later this month) helps you know who you are reaching with your church website. The more detailed you can be about who your target audience is, the more you can tailor your website to reach your audience. Tailoring your website to your audience means you’re going to be more relevant to them. That helps clarify your message and delivery.
2. Location & Times
Often, we assume people know where our church is. They know how to get to our building on Sunday, and that we meet Sunday mornings. Because we make that presumption, a lot of church websites bury their service information deep in the website. Instead, make that information easily available for the new person who has never interacted with your church. Think like a visitor. Making the location of your church and the times of your regular worship easily accessible helps make people get the very basic information they’re needing.
3. Ministry Information
Regardless of who you decide your target audience is, you need to have ministry information on your website. The way that information is displayed, and what all goes into these pages may look different, but at the very base, you need to have a basic overview of what ministries are offered — provide the 5 W’s that we learned about in elementary school (who, what, when, where, why). For the potential visitor, this helps them realize if your church is the right fit for them. For the regular attender, this can be a good reminder about different ministries or a way to keep them in the loop on things they aren’t normally a part of. Providing ministry information gives a deeper look into the ministry of your church, outside of Sunday services.
Part of what’s great about reading a novel is the ability to fantasize and visualize for yourself in your mind’s eye. But that’s not what you want people to do when reading about what to expect during a Sunday worship gathering. Visuals help me understand what’s going on, what’s being conveyed, and what the intention is. Don’t you agree? Your visitors are no different. Reading a description may be useful, but a visual help bring those words to life. Adding visuals give your website visitors a peek into what to expect, the life of the church, and small details like what to wear, worship style, and even the demographics of the congregation.
5. Consistent Updates
A website is not a one-and-done element of your ministry. It needs to be updated consistently, optimized for your audience, and refreshed every so often. Allowing the website to go stagnant with outdated information, dated pictures, and old design all mean that you’re not reaching your audience well. Your website does not need to be a full-time job, but it does need to be a part of your job. Keeping the website updated can also be a great opportunity to find a volunteer. It’s another way we can view every aspect of ministry as a form of discipleship.