In this digital age, your church’s website is just as important as your physical signage and real-world visual aesthetic. In 2012, 17 million unchurched Americans visited church websites at least once, and 46% of people indicated that a church website was a primary decision maker in whether they visited that church.
Although those numbers have surely increased in the years since the research was conducted, some churches still treat their websites as an afterthought. Here are some tips for making your church website a better destination for your members and guests.
Invest in a Quality Look
When people visit your website, are they impressed by its overall look? We have all been told not to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to website, it’s important to make a memorable first impression with a well-designed site.
For most of us, this isn’t something we should do ourselves. Think about your church’s real-world sign, the one seen from the road when driving by your church property. Unless you happen to be highly skilled in sign-making, you probably wouldn’t try to make it yourself. Instead, you’d hire a professional craftsman (or team of them) to create something beautiful, functional, and high quality. It’s no different with your “digital road sign.” Most people these days are going to check out your website before setting foot inside your building. Your “digital road sign” needs to be beautiful, functional, and high quality as well.
That said, you may simply have no room in the budget for contracting a website designer. Fortunately, you can create a fairly well-designed website using one of numerous free or low-cost website building services that require little to no technical expertise, including WordPress, Wix, and SquareSpace.
Consider the Visitor Experience
Second, consider the visitor experience. We already know that people unfamiliar with your church are checking out your website. Does your site include a “New here?” button? Is it in a place that people will notice it? And what happens when they click it? Make sure it leads to a page that is welcoming and engaging. Also, remember that these website visitors likely do not know your church’s culture yet and may not be familiar with church lingo. Make sure the information here makes sense to people outside your church and makes them feel welcome.
Remember that people expect truth in advertising, too, especially from churches. If your place of worship is very small, avoid using stock images of much larger congregations on your website. Make sure the image visitors see online matches what they will see when they visit in person.
Include Online Giving
Make sure also to include an online giving option on your church website. Surprisingly, online giving has proven increasingly popular across all ages. You may be tempted to think only young folks would want this, but about 3 in 5 donors (59%) age 66 and up reported using online giving in 2014, up from 23% in 2010.
Bottom line: people use this feature if it’s available to them. By the way, Givelify makes this easy: they provide a code that you can simply insert anywhere on your website, creating a “Give Online” button for you. Be sure to check out this feature if you’re already using Givelify, or consider joining and seeing all that Givelify has to offer.
Other Must-Haves for Your Site
Church websites can sometimes be thrown together quickly, just to make sure one exists. When that happens, some highly important information might be accidentally left out. Consider this list of details many church websites forget to include:
- Address of the church
- Staff names and contact information
- Service times
- Links to social media pages
To make sure your church website is useful, this information must be included. After all, how will potential visitors find your church if they don’t know the address? Even if you don’t go all-out for your website design, always make sure to cover the basics.