The chances are good that the individual or family walking into your church this Sunday morning found your church via the Internet. Your church’s website is often the first impression people will get of your church as a whole, and just like in real life you only have seconds to make a first impression. 3.5 seconds to be exact, because if your website takes longer than 3.5 seconds to load 65% of all your website visitors will navigate to another site.
…of the 35% of visitors to your website that do wait for the page to load over half will discredit your website if your design is poor.
Now, don’t panic! If the thought of creating and maintaining a website for your church feels overwhelming, you’re not alone. If the thought of losing website visitors because it loads to slow keeps you up at night (No? That’s just us?) Well, relax anyway. So many pastors and church leaders get bogged down in the details of trying to put together their church’s website, that it usually ends up a jumbled mess, but you don’t need to worry. That’s why we are here, to break down the barriers between your church’s website and the world.
Think of your church website as a digital lobby for your church, a place to welcome your guests and make sure they have the basic information they need. With that concept in mind here is a 5-point checklist to help you as you start to plan (or re-plan) your churches website.
1. Location, Location, Location
Just like in the real estate business location is the most important thing to highlight when it comes to building your church website, the best place to start is with the basics. And what’s more important for potential visitors to know then the location of your church? At a minimum, start with the church address. Most people have navigation apps on their phone, so an address is all they need to find you. But it’s still great to take it a step further by giving more specific directions. What will the turn off look like if they’re coming from the north or the south? Do you have any special instructions for parking or entry doors? Few things frustrate people more than getting lost or confused on the way to a place they are unfamiliar with. Take away the guesswork for your visitors, put their minds at ease, and help them show up at your church on time!
Think about the last time you invited someone to your church. You told them where your church is located, then you let them know when your worship services and regular programs get started. It’s the same online. Think about it as a conversation. Be sure to clearly and prominently feature your service times. Include the time and location of things like Sunday morning services, Sunday School or small group meetings, student ministry, and any services you may have on other days of the week. Think through the regularly-scheduled happenings at your church, and be sure to include those on your basic schedule.
Don’t overwhelm people by listing things like worship team rehearsal times and elder meetings. Just list the basic events that will help visitors and hopefully interest those who are infrequent attendees
3. Denominal Affiliation/Mission and/or Beliefs Statement
People want to know what makes your church really unique in your community. What denomination does your church belong to? Are people moving to your community specifically looking for a Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 Church? In fact, I would say go above and beyond just listing your denominal affiliation or Statement of Beliefs but narrow down the specific purpose of your church and make it known,(i.e. “at ABC Church we’re all about…“)
People want to know if they will really fit in with your churches standards and practices. No one wants to be surprised if they start passing around a bag of rattlesnakes. Develop a simple statement of faith to include on your website. You can hang on to your long version or denominational affiliation, but try to come up with two or three sentences that encompass what you believe and what you teach. This will help folks understand the overall goals you have for your church. Make this statement easy to read and remember. List it clearly on your website so that potential visitors can get a quick understanding of your church’s identity and vision.
No one wants to be surprised if they start passing around a bag of rattlesnakes.
4. Contact Information
Visitors to your site may have specific questions or needs. They need the option to get in touch with you at the click of a button. You can get as detailed as you want with the contact form. You can customize it to allow people to give as little or as much information as they feel is necessary. You can send it directly to a staff member without the pastor or secretary needing to see. Regardless of how you set it up exactly, your site visitors will need it!
You can build a basic form giving visitors a simple link to click that will prompt them to send an email to a preset address at your church. Or, you can make it even more basic if you need to. Make sure your “Contact Us” page has your church office phone number and office hours. This is another place to include the address, too. If you want to get fancy, you can even add a staff directory. The point is to give visitors a clear way to get in touch with someone at your church who can respond to their needs and answer their questions quickly
People love to see pictures if they didn’t Instagram wouldn’t even be a thing. Your church images need to be authentic though, stock photos won’t have the same impact that a real photograph of your real church members would. The best solution is to load your website up with as many real pictures of your real church as possible, without being ridiculous. Focus on sharing stories or the real mood of your church, that will let guests be able to picture themselves in your actual church building. These pictures will bring your church to life in a way no stock pictures or clip art can.
Now that you know some of the info you should have on your church website, we hope you’re feeling better about how achievable this whole process can be. But it’s ok if you’re still worried about how to put it all together. Helping churches build beautiful websites is literally what we do all day. And we can help you, too. Together, your church website goals can become achievable, not overwhelming! Contact Us today, and let us help you.
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