Your church website is more important than you think it is. It is one of the primary ways a person will decide whether or not to visit or eventually connect with your church. Before the internet, people would need to walk into doors to get a feel for a congregation. Nowadays, the church website serves as the “store window” to take a peek into what is going on inside.
Increasingly, I meet people who have already made up their mind regarding joining a church due to their discoveries on a website before ever making a physical visit.
Through watching services, studying beliefs, and investigating philosophy, people get a feel for your church through your website – whether positive or negative. While I could have made a post that spoke of the worst church website practices (because there are many), I thought maybe providing some possible improvements for your site might encourage you to take what you got and keep improving.
Here are 19 ways to improve your church’s website:
- Replace Stock Photos – Using stock photos of people who don’t go to your church might warn guests that your membership is something worth hiding. Imagine seeing professional models of young and diverse people on your site only to find something very different once you visit. Find a member photog or pay a professional to come and take quality and personal photos of church activities on a Sunday.
- Keep Info Current – Nothing signals disorganization more than outdated information. If the staff roster, service times, advertising emphases, and other info is incorrect or outdated, it trains people not to return to the website since the content is not accurate.
- Provide Sneak Peeks – Even if you don’t have superior technology, attempt to provide opportunities to see, hear, or feel what it would feel like to gather with your church. Most people who end up joining our church are those who have watched numerous services online before ever attending in person.
- Make Navigation Simple – Your church is busy and might even be complex, but that doesn’t mean that your menus have to be. Be diligent to make getting around your website simple and precise.
- Include Clear Directions – It is simple to provide an address, directions, or a map embed. If you want people to join you, make sure they know how to get there.
- Acknowledge Church Guests – As you create your content, think with guests in mind. Make it clear for those who are new to your site or church on how to take the next steps.
- Acknowledge Church Members – As you create your content, also think with members in mind. Can members access pertinent and thorough information in a simple way?
- Make Site Specific – You aren’t any church, you are your church. So, tell your story. Don’t make your site sound generic because your church isn’t. Share the specific heartbeat of your church.
- Improve Load Time – If you have too much content or super-sized media on your pages, it will take longer to load. People are impatient and they will eventually stop waiting.
- Balance Pastoral Priority – While pastors are a significant reason why people connect with a church, don’t mistake the identity of the pastor with the identity of the church. Allow space for people to get to know your staff but also communicate that the church is more than the pastor.
- Show Clear Calendar – Make sure your weekend service times are pronounced and clear. In addition, ensure that your upcoming events are easy to find and simple to register.
- Improve Font Selection – If your font selection is outdated, cheesy, or difficult to read, that communicates something about your church. Keep it simple, modern, and readable.
- Avoid Building Photos – Don’t confuse your church with your church building. If the majority of your photos are taken of the campus, it communicates that your church is more focused on the buildings than the people.
- Include Building Photos – In your attempt to avoid building burnout, you might find places where a building can help people identify where to come when they attend. Be selective on how and where you highlight building photos.
- Freshen Design Layout – If your site looks outdated, people will assume your church is. Don’t make it different from the DNA of your church, but continue to tinker with the site to freshen it up.
- Unify Social Media – With the rise of social media outlets, the pressure is on to keep content fresh on numerous platforms. Work hard to keep things consistent and updated so that it is a unified approach to sharing content.
- Employ Mobile Responsiveness – In 2018, 52.4% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices, and yet, many churches don’t ensure their sites are responsive on them. Make sure your site is not only readable on a mobile device but functional.
- Answer Expected Questions – Think through the questions people have about your church and answer them before they ask them. I cannot overstate this enough – more and more people are reading the verbiage on church sites in order to determine if these people are deserving of a visit.
- Increase Weekly Content – I recommend church sites utilizing a platform like WordPress where you can have dynamic content instead of static information. With the ability to post updates, sermons, events, articles, courses, stories, and news, your site can be fresh every time someone pulls it up. Get staff and volunteers involved in creating content. If you keep it fresh, people will keep coming. Make sure it is shareable to social media because that is where most people connect to individual posts on websites these days. Most people arrive at a website due to intriguing content shared on social media.
These are 19 ways you can possibly improve your church website. While a church website isn’t the most important thing you will do, at least acknowledge it is an important thing you do. Do it well!
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.