Why Write About What Your Church Website Must-Have?
There are a lot of articles out there about what needs to be included in a church website. Church Themes has a good one and so does Thom S. Rainer. So, when I first sat down to start writing this article, I almost wrote about things you’re church website should not do. But it turns out that this is actually more popular to write about because there are so many bad church websites.
Take a couple minutes, get yourself a laugh, and just google bad church websites. You’ll find several articles with lists upon lists. Sadly, a lot of the church websites on the lists don’t exist anymore because the webmaster heard that it was on a loser list and took it down. But is it actually better to have no church website than to have a bad one?
Even though this topic has been written about quite a bit, the internet is constantly changing and things people are expecting to see online are changing too. With 2018 coming up right around the corner, I wanted to give church leaders a website developer’s opinion on the top 5 church website must-haves this year. Therefore, I am going to try to focus on must-haves that most of other articles did not address.
1. Your Church Website Must Have A Website
Duh right? Well, for all those churches that closed their website because people were making fun of it, their website is gone. Nobody can ever find their church if they search online.
In 2012, 46% of church attenders said that the church’s website was important in picking a church to visit. In the same study, 33% of people said that the internet was the first place they heard about their church. If you didn’t have a website in 2012, then 1/3 of the population surrounding your church would literally not even know you were there. I wish there was a more recent study on this, because I guarantee you that in the past 5 (almost 6) years that number has gone up significantly.
Even if it’s as ugly as this fish, it’s better than not having a website at all.
2. Your Church Website Must Have a Mobile Friendly Design
I’m not going to explain this one much. Here are a couple charts that I found on smartinsights.com about the amount of mobile web browsing compared to the amount of desktop browsing. In short, 71% of all minutes spent browsing the internet are on a phone or tablet, so if your church website isn’t mobile friendly, then it isn’t working.
All of Goby’s websites are responsive (a.k.a. look great on desktop, tablet, and phone).
A great example of a responsive church website is Redemption Church’s website.
3. Service Information
With 71% of internet browsing occurring on mobile devices, you must have the address and time of your service typed out and easily accessible. This information must be typed out because our phones and tablets have the capability of identifying addresses, phone numbers, and potential calendar events.
This means that visitors can simply tap the address and pull up directions in their phones map. They can tap the service time and create a recurring event to remind themselves that it’s time to worship (you know…just in case they forget about Jesus and all).
If I were to write a list of things a church website doesn’t need, a map would be on that list. Maps are cool, especially on the desktop version of your site, but they are slow to load, hard to see when they aren’t full screen, and there are other ways to give your site the same functionality (create a link to location or to get directions with Google maps).
A good example of how to display your service information is on Redemption Church’s homepage.
4. Relevant Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words…yada yada yada. Here’s there deal. I was talking a friend of mine a while back. He lives in Northern Utah now, but spent several years, including college, in Louisiana where he helped with a few different ministries. He goes back to visit a couple times a year and brings back great stories that give my nostalgia bones a jolt (because I’m from Central Arkansas). This time he told me about a couple that was severely affected by Hurricane Katrina.
This couple (I don’t want to use their names without permission – if I get permission later I’ll update this post) grew up Roman Catholic. They had no idea that what they had been told their whole life was not the truth about God’s grace. Shortly before Katrina hit, they had been meeting off and on with an evangelical friend and they had just started asking questions and seeking to know the truth about who God is. It was in the middle of all this that they were evacuated for Katrina. They went north (I’m not sure where they actually stayed) and while they were waiting for the all clear to return home and thinking about the loss of every possession they’d ever had, Jesus invaded their lives. They repented and turned toward Jesus.
given the option between a church without a picture of the pastor and a church with a picture of the pastor, they felt like they had more trust in the organization that made themselves relatable.
As soon as they got back to New Orleans they went on Google and found the first evangelical church website with a picture of the pastor and visited there. They didn’t consciously decide to find a church online with these pictures, but given the option between a church without a picture of the pastor and a church with a picture of the pastor, they felt like they had more trust in the organization that made themselves relatable. They’ve been contributing members and grown in their faith with that same church ever since.
Your church website must have pictures that show your visitors (and members) what you look like. It makes you human. It makes you relatable. It makes you stand out.
A great example of how to do this is Redemption Church’s Leadership page.
5. Your Beliefs
Your “statement of faith” or “what we believe” page will be important to Christians new to your area. It should list out your primary doctrinal beliefs in a way that is plainly written. Tony Morgan Live has a great post about the use of jargon on these pages and really thinking about who we are writing to. A lot of churches make the “mistake”, if you will, of putting secondary and even tertiary beliefs on their website. Only the primary doctrines that you feel would cause you to discontinue fellowship with someone should be on this page. Or, as the Tony Morgan Live article says it, “You can still include the information church-people want to see, though I challenge you to re-evaluate even that. At best, maybe that should just be a PDF people can download if they want more info (especially if it’s lengthy and uses denominational jargon).”
A great example of how to do this well is Redemption Church’s Beliefs page.
Remember this, your website is not only the “front door” of your church on the internet, it’s like a billboard that is seen by people specifically looking for what you can offer them. The way it looks and the way the information is presented is the most important thing you can do online.
Now, these are just five simple church website must-haves. If you paid me to design and develop your church website, I would try to convince you to at least put these five things on there. Now, there are a lot of other things that you can do to really help your church website stand out, but I’ll get into those in the coming weeks because they tend to be determined more by each churches number one goal. For now, go make sure your church’s website has these five things on there, especially number 4.
See you out there,
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