Six Simple Ways to Improve Your Church Website

Today, people do everything on the Internet. It is the new marketplace for information. We use it to search for everything from funny cat videos to investment strategies. The Internet is also the new front door. For better or worse, we make our first impressions about businesses, brands, and even churches by their websites. As a result, your church needs a website -- and it needs a good one.

Crafting a good church website may overwhelm you. As a pastor, you already have a lot on your plate. You don't have time to learn about how to make a website, or what tools you should use.

Don't fret -- we at 'Cross Culture, powered by OODA' have scoured dozens of cutting edge church websites for you. We've learned what traits you should emulate and which traits you should avoid.

Based on our research, here are six simple ways to improve your church website.

  1. Communicate Your Contact Information Good church websites make it abundantly easy for their visitors to find their address, phone number, and contact information. Some church websites even include this information in the footer so that it appears on every page.Including your contact information seems like a no-brainer, right? But you would be surprised to learn how many church websites overlook this step by burying the contact information in a hard-to-find spot. What good is a church website if people can't figure out how to visit you?
  1. Use a Mobile-Friendly Design Smart phones are everywhere now, and everyone from preteens to senior citizens uses them. Since smartphone screens are a fraction of the size of your desktop screen, websites have had to adapt. Today, new responsive designs automatically resize and reformat websites so that they fit on a smartphone screen.The move to responsive designs is a big deal in web design. Google now favors mobile-friendly sites in its search results; if your site is not mobile-friendly, Google will not rank you highly in search results. Good church websites employ these mobile-friendly designs so that they can reach the most people.
  1. Make your Website Visually Appealing Good church websites, recognizing that we are visual people, are visually appealing. They lavishly employ large, high quality photographs that faithfully represent the church's identity. They also craft a unique logo. People may forget your church's name and location, but they will have a harder time forgetting your logo.In addition, good church websites are visually consistent. They employ the same colors, styles, and imagery across their pages.
  1. Be Organized Don't make navigating your church website a pain. Group your pages and ministries in a clear, easy-to-understand way. But be careful not to overwhelm your visitors with dozens of menu options. Include three or four broad categories in your main menu, and organize your pages accordingly within those categories. If you want your website visitors to actually visit your church, you certainly don't want to make them feel frustrated.Here's a practical example: An "About" tab could link to your Beliefs, Leadership, and Contact pages. A "Ministries" tab could link to your Children's, Youth, Adult, and Outreach ministry pages.
  1. Stay Up to Date Web design standards change all the time. This matters for aesthetics. What was considered an attractive website ten years ago may now seem woefully out of date. It matters for security. Hackers can break your site or steal vital information if your site is out of date. It also matters for usability. An old site may not work as well on newer browsers and devices. Thus to have a high quality website, you must keep up with the latest web design standards.This does not mean that you have to become an expert at web design -- or even hire someone for your site. But perhaps you could schedule a website review every couple of years in which you re-evaluate your website, talk with an experienced web designer or web-savvy church member, and determine if you need to make any changes.
  1. Write Well When you write for your church website, striking the right tone can be difficult. Write too rigidly, and you end up with "term-paper writing." In this style, you sound like you're trying to impress a professor, not speak to your community. For example:"One would enjoy First Baptist Church for its commitment to expositional preaching and its dedication to ecclesiological truths."Write too conversationally and you end up with "sermonic writing." In this style, you sound like you transcribed your latest sermon introduction. For example:"Thank you, dear brother, for taking time out of your busy schedule to grace our website. We pray that you will be blessed as you see all that God has going on."The best approach is somewhere in-between—"conversational writing." In this style, you write conversationally while still applying good style and grammar. You use active verbs, simple sentences, and a focus on your reader. For example:"First Baptist Church seeks to love Jesus and proclaim his gospel."

 

What other tips would you suggest for improving church websites?

Chad and Nathaniel are the co-founders of 'Cross Culture.' They seek to equip everyday churches to develop a clear, unique, and engaging web strategy as a tool to help them fulfill the Great Commission. Get a FREE eBook with more tips>>