Church Websites: Catering to Visitors
Visiting your website should feel like stepping onto your church’s property. This is especially true when you’re thinking about catering to a first time visitor. It’s been said by many folks, including myself, that your church’s website is your new front door. So here are a few things you can do to make your site a little more visitor friendly.
- Spread out the information. You don’t cram all of the stuff in your church into one room, right? Well, you shouldn’t squeeze every piece of information onto the homepage of your website either. Let it breathe. Open space is okay. Keep it simple and create clear navigation to where people can find more detailed information. If someone asked where your children’s area was in person, you’d take them down the hall to the classrooms. On the web, you’d have them click to go to another section.
- Show pictures of who you are. Give people a feel for who you are. What does the inside of the church look like on a Sunday morning? In what ways does your church serve your community? Give a little tour of what it’s like to be a part of your congregation. Again, the goal of the website is to reflect what it would be like if someone actually came through your front door.
- Explain why you do what you do (and use personal stories to do it). Cast your vision so visitors know why you exist. Instead of just listing tidbits about a particular ministry, have someone share their story of how the church had an impact on their lives by bringing them closer to God. Put a face to the real things happening at your church.
- Provide useful information. Think about the questions a visitor to your site might have. Yes, they’ll want to know where you stand theologically. But they’re also highly curious about what they should wear, what to do with their kids and what to expect from the service. Consider the needs of a visitor and try to fill them.
- Use the colors you use in your church. As churches, we often don’t spend a lot of time thinking about environmental branding. How does your church’s décor match your other branding as a church? This is taking all the visual elements people encounter at your church and making sure they all go together to create a unified experience. Keep that in mind as you build your website, too. Do the colors match the colors in your branding or church décor? If your church has a relaxing, coffeehouse feel, does your website match that?
- Be available to answer questions. Always give the invitation for people to interact with you on a more personal level. Let them know who to contact if they have questions (and make sure someone is there to actually respond).
Why should we really consider this? It’s all about removing barriers. If someone is thinking about coming to church for the first time (or the first time in a long time) there’s nervousness. If we can give a full picture of what our church is like, it settles some of those nerves and hopefully will make it easier for that person to take a step through your front door.