In today’s tech-savvy culture an online presence is vital—and you may need help optimizing your church website to help your visitors find you, get to know you and make the decision to come to your church. At Outreach, we’ve discovered that everyone can use at least some help figuring how to get their website started. In a recent webinar (one of our most popular ever), “Learn the Basics: Build an Effective Church Website,” church website specialist Becky shared her insights into what works best for a welcoming and informative site. You can catch the whole webinar at the bottom of this page, but we’ve broken out 5 key takeaways you can use to get started in optimizing your church website.
1. Get found!
Since you’re reading this article, you’ve probably been thinking about creating a website for your church, or wondering how to make your existing one more effective. You’re on the right track! Years ago, when people looked for a church, they relied on the phone book, word of mouth or driving around the neighborhood. In many ways, the internet has made it easier than ever to find a church. People can now search by ZIP code, denomination, amenities and more. A website is the first place most people look to learn about churches in their area, and if you don’t have one, you’re missing out on a lot of potential new members. You may have a minor online listing or a mention in a Google search, but without an actual website, you’re basically invisible.
2. Your homepage is the front door of your church.
Since your website is likely the first way that people will “meet” your church, it’s important that you think of it as the virtual front door to your church. Like your home, you want it to look inviting and warm so that people will feel comfortable attending. Here are two quick tips for making sure your website makes the right first impression:
- Don’t overload your main page with images and content—you wouldn’t put every item you own on the front porch, right?
- Put your service times front and center. It’s really one of the first things people look for once they’ve found their way to your site. You can display it in the header, in special buttons, in an event block or in a callout box. You can also include an interactive calendar that showcases even more events than just your services. Include your Bible studies, teen outreach nights, or small groups. The main point is to let everyone know when you’re holding events, with services being the most important.
3. The quality of your images is vital.
In the recent website webinar, attendees noted that images were incredibly important in building an appealing website. Low resolution, blurry images make a church look unprofessional and that can drive potential visitors away. Pick images that are clear, bright and high resolution. Make sure they reflect the culture and demographics of your church so that visitors will get an idea of who your members and staff are—and if they will feel comfortable attending. Showcase your most popular events or any special features your church offers. Share your thriving children’s ministry, engaging mission trips or community service projects. When including graphics such as charts, graphs, and infographics, they should look clean, be grammatically correct and easy to understand, with correct numbers and statistics (when used). Note: Always ensure you have the right to use images that you display. Don’t just pull randomly from Google images—it could cause legal troubles for you!
4. Make your visitors feel welcome.
Create an environment that encourages your visitors to get to know your church and lets them know you’re excited that they’re considering your church. You can create a “welcome statement” on your homepage with a few words about your church. Alternatively, you can create an “I’m New” button that takes them to a page created just for new visitors. Fill it with all the information a new person might want to know about your church. This includes general attire expected, an overview of the average service, special notices and more.
5. Include your location and directions.
Your church’s location is a critical factor for people choosing a place to worship and making sure it’s easy to find can go a long way in optimizing your church website. Place a map on your website so they can easily find out if you’re in the area they desire. Some people may choose to worship in a place close to their job. Others may pick a church near relatives so that everyone can attend in a group. A clear location will help your visitors know if you’re right for them. Additionally, include any special instructions, not just for getting to your church, but for navigating your property. For example, if your parking lot is quite far from the doors, make sure visitors know to drop off those who need assistance at the entrance. Or, if your church has multiple doors, let them know the proper ones to enter. This way, they aren’t stuck wandering all over trying to find their way in.
Start optimizing your church website today!
Optimizing your church website is a great way to engage potential visitors. These five takeaways can help you get off to a very successful start. You can also get more in-depth insights by listening to the webinar, “Learn the Basics: Build an Effective Church Website,” below: