Take your church website to the next level with these tech features.
In our last post about the five basic things your church website should have, we explored the need for easy to find times and locations, an easy way to give, honesty and transparency, and good, original content. Let’s pick up where we left off and show you five ways you could enhance your church website even further.
6. Updated content.
This is a task you can give to a web developer or content manager, if you have them. Your developer could build the blog on a platform you can update in house (such as WordPress) without having to hire outside help. In the process of creating a blog for your church website, decide on how you’re going to populate it with posts. Do you have a team of pastors who would be willing to write post-sermon thoughts? Or ask the congregation if there are any writers in the house and ask if they’ll consider doing it for free on the side. This is a good way to generate diverse content while giving people the opportunity to have their thoughts published.
- Why? If your church website has a blog, people will think you’ve closed your doors for good if it hasn’t been updated since 2009. It may seem low on your priority list to write updated posts, but if you don’t, people might think you got too ambitious and now you’re falling back on your commitments. It’s psychological—people want to be a part of a church that’s vibrant and thriving. Updated web content is one surefire way to show your church’s health!
- Example: The Village Church is an excellent example of an updated church blog. The topics are relevant and intriguing, the posts complement their weekend sermons, and they post consistently.
7. A clear, simple call to action above the fold.
Don’t miss this! One of the standby rules in web design is to keep the most important content “above the fold.” Back when newspapers were our primary source of news, this referred to the top half of the front page. Now in web design, it means the part of the webpage that is visible without scrolling. Ideally, you should have no more than two CTAs above the fold: one for existing members (who usually want to give or hear the latest sermon) and one for potential visitors (who want to see your beliefs or know what to expect).
- Why? Churches often over communicate above the fold. They try to pack in as much information as possible in that small amount of space. This is overwhelming for a visitor who just wants a couple simple options. When you’re deciding which CTAs to offer, put yourself in their place. Why are they going to your website? What are they trying to do?
- Examples: Although not a church, Netflix does a beautiful job of keeping it clean above the fold and only offering two options: Join Free For A Month and Sign In. For a church example, there are many out there, but we like Elevation Church’s Watch Now and View More Sermons.
8. Maintained and linked social presence.
Make sure your church’s social media channels are populated with recent posts and linked to your website. Most church websites will have social icons in the footer of every page or somewhere on each blog post, giving users the option to share on their social media accounts.
- Why? People these days do more research on your social profiles than your website. They already spend multiple hours a day on their own accounts—why not meet them where they are? Then, once they’re following you, you have the opportunity to reach them every day, multiple times a day, which is why your social media desperately needs to be maintained. If you’re not posting often, they’ll never see you in their news feed.
- Example: Again, many churches do this well, but Riverview Church is one that’s consistent on social media (namely, their Twitter and Instagram).
Mobile-friendly. Responsive. Scalable. In web design, these terms mean that your website should react and adjust properly to the device it’s being viewed on. This is why YouTube has a desktop website and a mobile app. Notice how those two versions of the same website look and function slightly different? In the same way, your church’s website should respond differently to different types of devices. It should function in a way that makes sense to a person no matter what device they’re using.
- Why? Have you ever considered that people go to your website on their phone for a different reason than they would visit your website on a desktop computer? Really step into the user experience on this one so you can meet their needs. On mobile, they’re probably looking for directions, service times, or a phone number. On a desktop, they might spend more time and do things like set up a giving account or watch a sermon. Put the most pertinent information first based on the user path and you might find that your mobile website will be very different from your desktop version.
- Example: Check out Passion City Church on your desktop and your phone to see what we mean. Notice how the blocks are arranged differently on mobile? Imagine what you see on your desktop replicated exactly on your phone. It would look strange and hard to read on that small screen, wouldn’t it?
10. Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free tool that measures website data to gain customer insights. Most people install this instinctively but then never use it. Do you know where people are going when they visit your page? Where they’re dropping off? Does 80% of your traffic go to a page that is buried in some obscure menu?
- Why? You should know where you’re generating the most (and least) traffic so that you can adequately meet your site visitors’ needs. This process is somewhat trial-and-error until you know what your audience likes, but then that will change as your audience grows and changes. This means you need to track them. If in fact 80% of your site’s traffic is going to a buried page, maybe you should move that content to the home page.
- Example: You would have to ask other churches how Google Analytics has helped them, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you get the most of our your website.