Browse
Good Websites Remove Barriers

Good Websites Remove Barriers

Posted September 26, 2012 by Jerod Clark

We often talk about the importance of a website acting as your church’s front door.  It’s a way to make a good first impression about who you are and what you believe.  That idea was recently reinforced as I was reading a first-hand account of what it was like for someone moving to a new area and trying to find a church.  The author wrote:

Itʼs disheartening that in this day and age some churches still do not realize the importance of their website. We visited every church online before setting foot inside the building, and for a number of churches, that online visit was the only visit we made.

We immediately noticed that we felt much more comfortable on our first visit to churches whose online representation was consistent with their in-person reality. Simply maintaining a website that was consistent with the look and feel of the actual church helped make it feel more familiar to us.

When I read that, one key question comes to mind:  Is your website a barrier for people?  Website barriers can come in many varieties, but here are some that are quite common.

  • The website doesn’t feel like your church.  Your church building feels a certain way.  People have an impression of what kind of congregation you are based on everything they take in when they walk into your building.  Yet often, church website don’t replicate that feel.  A church that has a warm, coffeehouse feel shouldn’t have a cold, sterile website.  A contemporary church shouldn’t have a site that looks 10 years old.  Do your best to represent the feel of your church online.
  • Lack of relevant information.  First, put yourself in the place of a visitor.  What questions do they have when they come to your website?  They could range from What is the worship style like? to What should I do with my kids?.  Do you have answers for them?  If not, they’re probably off to the next church website in the Google search results.  Now think like a member.  What do they need from your site?  Maybe they’re looking for more information about an event that was mentioned during the service.  If they can’t find it, the website isn’t serving them well and they might lose out on becoming a more involved member of the church.  It’s not only about relevant content, but content that is timely, too.
  • Out of date style.  Does your website look like it’s stuck in the 1990’s?  Ten years ago, if you had a website, you were cool.  Those days are long gone.  Now style means something.  A dated website sends a message that you are behind the times.  This doesn’t mean you have to always be chasing trends, but it does mean you need to understand shifts in web design.  Clean and simple never go out of style. Neither does well thought-out navigation.  Little things can make a difference.  Across the web, pictures are getting more real-estate space.  Simply adding more pictures of your church in action will give your site a much different feel.
  • Technical dysfunction.  Nothing is more frustrating than a website that doesn’t work.  Broken links, missing pictures or error message show a user that a site isn’t maintained and therefore isn’t a priority.  Sites that don’t work on mobile devises fit in this category, too.  Half of Americans have a smartphone.  Can they get the information they need from your website if they’re mobile?
  • Incomplete story.  We can be good about saying what we offer as churches, but we’re not always so good at telling the personal stories of how lives are being changed because of those things.  Personal stories are always more impactful than a list of facts.  Another way websites don’t tell a complete story is when some sections of the site are updated and others aren’t.  Just because your men’s ministry is awesome at updating their section doesn’t mean they’re more important than your youth ministry who’s section on the site may not have as much information.  Find consistency across your site so your priorities are clear and you’re telling the story of everything your church is doing.

As communicators, our key responsibly is removing barriers that keep people from getting the information they need.  When we don’t think about the end user’s needs, we are building barriers.  When we just ignore the problems, we’re making the barriers taller.  

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.

Don't miss a post

Join our email list

Comments (1)

  • James Giroux
    6:53 AM
    Wed, Oct 17, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more.  As I work with churches one of the things that I am constantly doing is reminding them that their first impression happens before their guests ever enter the auditorium.  To me the issue is about more than just having a good website it’s understanding the role of the website as a part of the guest experience.  Typically the idea of first impressions or guest experience is given to a specific staff member (worship, lead, adult ministries, care, etc.) and the website is given to someone else.  I wonder if website goals would change if the person managing it was the same person who hears the stories of people coming for the first time.

Leave a Comment

Share your thoughts about this blog post with us.
All fields are required.

Recent Posts

Top 5 for 2018
Top 5 for 2018
1

Posted December 13, 2018 by Bryan Haley

2018 is coming to a close, but before we jump into the new year, we want to take a look back at some of this year's most popular articles.
How Much Time Is Enough Time? Best Practices for Church Event Timelines
How Much Time Is Enough Time? Best Practices for Church Event Timelines
2

Posted December 11, 2018 by Jeanette Yates

Churches often underestimate the amount of time needed to share information about, or promote events and services. Doing this can not only frustrate your team but hinder volunteers and attendee participation. Here’s how to make sure your communications are timely and effective.
How to Run an Effective Team Planning Meeting
How to Run an Effective Team Planning Meeting
0

Posted December 6, 2018 by Carrie Evans

A yearly planning meeting can help your team align, have fun together, invigorate your vision, develop a communications plan, and break down ministry silos.
Getting Strategic With Your Church Blog
Getting Strategic With Your Church Blog
1

Posted December 4, 2018 by Joe Gallant

I get asked, “Should we have a blog on our church website?” My usual answer is a helpful “maybe!” Let’s explore some of the common pitfalls, and some helpful strategies for making the most of a church blog.
Why Branding?
Why Branding?
0

Posted November 30, 2018 by Tyler Rominger

A good brand (and brand strategy) can bring a sense of purpose and focus to an otherwise rudderless operation.
Brand Guide Examples
Brand Guide Examples
0

Posted November 22, 2018 by Bryan Haley

Here are some great examples of brand guides. Use these examples as inspiration as you develop your own guide.
Who Are You?
Who Are You?
0

Posted November 20, 2018 by Joe Gallant

What does it mean to brand your church in the digital age? Here are some helpful tips on creating and applying a brand across multiple formats. Hint: it’s about more than a logo!
Logos Don’t Have To Be Literal
Logos Don’t Have To Be Literal
3

Posted November 15, 2018 by Jerod Clark

A great logo for your church is one that reflects who you are; it doesn't necessarily need to be literal.
Branding is Not a Bad Word
Branding is Not a Bad Word
1

Posted November 13, 2018 by Chris Hunt

Brand isn’t a bad word and your church can make good use of branding principles. Good branding is authentic and consistent. It’s easy to overthink your brand, so keep it simple.
Why Your Church Needs a Brand
Why Your Church Needs a Brand
0

Posted November 6, 2018 by Robert Carnes

Branding can feel like a bad thing within the church. In reality, that’s not the case. It’s not in the Bible so why do we need to talk about it? How we represent ourselves can impact who we’re able to build relationships with.