A few weeks ago some members of our church family rallied together and painted the walls of the children’s ministry wing of our church. The color wasn’t a whole lot different than the previous color, and it mostly just covered up a few years-worth of grubby fingerprints. But our people saw that it was time to freshen things up a bit. A year ago, we did the same with our entryway and foyer.
Our church values our building, especially the impression it makes on guests. We want our church building to be appealing and inviting. We want people to be comfortable there; we want people to know where to go.
Many churches spend a lot of time and money making sure that the building makes a good first impression. It’s time that we invested some of that time and energy into our websites.
Your website is usually the first place a first time guest will interact with your church. And if they don’t like what they see online, there’s a good chance they won’t connect with you in real life.
But where do we start? There are questions we always ask about our physical spaces, which would serve our digital spaces well. You don’t necessarily need to do an entire overhaul of your website but if you address these questions, you’ll have a good start.
1. Is it inviting?
We regularly ask if our church building is inviting. But is your website? Take an honest look at your website. Are there pictures of people? Does it load quickly? Does the content of your website connect with your audience? Does your website look great on a mobile device? Answering those questions will help make your website more inviting, and incidentally, bump your website up the Google search rankings as well.
Tip: If you want to dive a little more into SEO, here's a great place to start.
2. What impression does it make?
Pretend you’re new to the church and ask yourself, what does this website tell me about this church? Do the images and content of the website make me feel like they genuinely care about me and our community? Or are they all about themselves?
Tip: Here’s a great place to start as you look at the impression your website makes.
3. Is it comfortable? Do I want to stay there?
If a website is designed poorly, if the content isn’t relevant, people bounce. That means they won’t get the information they need, and likely won’t come to your church in real life. Take a look at your website and see if it’s laid out in a way that gives people relevant information when they need it. Are your service times listed in several prominent locations? Can I easily find the information I need? Do people want to stay on your website?
4. Is there someone to talk to?
Just like we staff our welcome centers with real people, we should staff our websites with real people. There are a plethora of free, high-quality chat features that are easy to install, and help your team engage with visitors to your website.
Tip: Drift is a great option to consider.
5. Does it help me take a next step?
Okay, so a potential visitor has come to your website. Now what? A good website makes no difference if people don’t take a next step closer to Jesus. To help people take their next step you could set up a Plan Your Visit page that is easily accessible on your page. Again, make your service times and locations easily available and clear. And if you want to introduce people who are far from God to Jesus, consider partnering a with a service like CV Outreach, who’ll set up a page on your website dedicated to presenting the Gospel.
Your website is your first point of contact with first time guests. Just like your church building, you need to think about the first impression your church website is making on newcomers. Taking these first steps will help you make a great first impression online, so you can make a great first impression in real life.