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Church Website Spring Cleaning

Church Website Spring Cleaning

Posted May 5, 2016 by Jerod Clark

There’s something about the first warm day in Spring, especially if you’re bouncing back from gloomy winters as we do where I sit near Chicago. While the abundant sunshine gives hope that flip-flop season will actually arrive soon, it also shows just how much dirt has accumulated during the lethargic winter. And so it’s a time of year where many of us find a rare enthusiasm to clean our homes and yards. As a church communicator, it’s also a great time to look over your website. Here are some areas where your site might need some sprucing up.

 

Cut back text on the homepage. Think of your homepage as a glimpse into the life of your church. That’s the opposite of blabbing on and on about everything that you do. Highlight the core of who you are so that your homepage oozes vision, passion and stories of life change. You can always give navigational pathways for people to dig deeper. Don’t forget the must-haves like service times, location and current sermon topic.

Refresh copy elsewhere. While subpages may get forgotten by church staffers, those areas are important to website visitors. Take time to evaluate all your pages to make sure information is up-to-date. Does the text match the tone of the rest of your site? Are there enough pictures? Is the information accurate? Do links work? Use your editor’s eye to tighten up text and improve how you’re presenting information.

Add more images. It may seem like I mention picture-based storytelling in almost every post. Well, it’s that important. We live in an image-driven communications world and many churches are way behind in showing their church in action. People won’t read through long chunks of text, especially on the homepage. Use pictures of your actual congregation to give an up-close view of what your church is like. Showing your church removes barriers for visitors making the move to visit you in person. Also, just adding pictures by itself isn’t enough. Make the commitment to take high quality images and display them big on your site.

Beef up calls-to-action. Always think about “what’s next” as you’re evaluating website content. What do you want someone to do after they look at a certain section of your website? Some calls-to-action (CTAs) are one step: sign-up for the weekly email or click to learn more about a typical Sunday experience. Others involve longer workflow. On the homepage, you might cast vision for your children’s ministry with a link to read more in the kids section. From there, the next call-to-action could be signing up for vacation Bible school. CTAs are about creating a guided journey for users.

Check basic functionality. Websites break. Sometimes it’s unexplainable, but enviably it happens. Spend time going through your website, clicking all the links and following your menu options to ensure they work. Make sure images and text are displaying correctly. Also check any “contact us” links to make sure they actually land somewhere where staff can reply.

Start a to-do list for future updates. Some website changes are as simple as editing text. Others require actual design changes to the site. Websites are always evolving. Identify areas that need more strategic thought and larger updates. Prioritize that list as you start to take on those larger modifications in the future.

 

Looking for examples or churches who have great websites? Check out these posts from our archive.

Filed under: Website, Design/Layout

About the Author

Jerod Clark

Jerod joined ReFrame Media in 2007 and built Church Juice from scratch. He poured all his passion for branding, marketing, and messaging into the ministry, publishing e-books, blog posts, and speaking at conferences to help churches energize their communications. He also served as ReFrame’s in-house graphic designer. Before beginning his work at Church Juice, Jerod was a local TV news reporter. In 2016, Jerod stepped away from the ministry to pursue interests in marketing and communications on new horizons.

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Comments (3)

  • Mark Steinbrueck
    3:27 PM
    Mon, May 9, 2016

    Great post, Jerod!  The problem with most church websites and other church communication (mailers, newsletters, etc) is that they try to stuff too much information into a small amount of space.  All the staff want their announcements featured and it turns into a crammed mess that few people read.  I love your point on picture based story telling (though SEMs don’t care for it;)

  • Chris
    2:55 AM
    Tue, May 10, 2016

    Don’t check your links manually. There are tons of tools for that, e.g. https://validator.w3.org/checklink It “clicks” on all of your links if you select “Check linked documents recursively” and a depth of 10.
    You can pray for your visitors while you wait. wink

  • William
    1:10 AM
    Fri, May 20, 2016

    Not sure “enviably” was the word you were looking for there. Maybe “inevitably”?

    Good point on telling stories with pictures. Also good stuff about cleaning up text. Read your site regularly and use your site data to understand where people are visiting and why? Adjust your content accordingly. Your readers are not always interested in what you think.

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