Have you taken a good, long look at whether you have an effective church website lately? It could be costing you new visitors. When a potential visitor comes to your site, what impression are they getting? Is it helpful and informative? Does it look professional? According to Hubspot, nearly 46% of people say a website’s design is their #1 criterion for determining the credibility of an organization. Basically, your church website is the front door of your church. Does yours say “come on in” or “keep out”?
Let’s consider this scenario. Imagine that you have decided to join the local Moose Lodge. You know they have a chapter that meets every week, so you go online to find out how to join and when they meet. But when you get to their website, there is no address, no meeting times and no instructions on how to join on the homepage. In fact, you have to hunt through a couple pages before you find anything helpful. You’re frustrated and having second thoughts — maybe they don’t want new members? It seems ridiculous, right?
Studies show that you only have about 10 seconds to make a good impression on a visitor to your site. So, how can you improve your online first impression? Here are few things to consider:
An Effective Church Website Is Visitor Focused
Sure, your regular members will use your website, too. But, if your site is the front door of your church, then it needs to focus on being new visitor friendly. This means that your site needs to answer all the questions a person who is considering coming to your church has:
Where and when are services?
It’s amazing how hard it can be to find basic information on some websites. An effective church website should have your meeting location information including the city, state, service times and your statement of faith on the home page. It’s important to remember that your website lives on the WORLD wide web. Someone in another state—or even another country—could possibly land on your site. They shouldn’t wonder if your church is in their town, it should tell them upfront.
What’s in it for me?
Yes, this seems like a selfish attitude but it’s completely natural. People who come to your church website are looking to see how your church can make their life better or meet a need, so tell them what you can do.
Set the tone with your main headline. Visitors aren’t on your site to hear how great your church is. They are there to see what you have to offer. Tap into the needs the visitor might have and show them how your church addresses it. Are you community or volunteer oriented? Do you offer resources for parents? Do you have great activities for empty nesters? What about dynamic bible studies for kids, teens and college students? Find the strong points that are compelling to your visitor and put them front and center.
Will I feel at home in this church?
Make sure your website has visitor-friendly text, great pictures of your church and events at your church, and even a special section: Plan A Visit or What’s Sunday Like? This is where you can address common questions about worship, culture, dress code and your children’s ministry.
Remember, photos and real-life stories are other great ways to share with visitors to show what they can expect at your church. Have someone share about their first experiences at your church, show pictures of services, activities, small groups, baptisms, kids having fun, etc. The more you show, the more comfortable people will feel.
Finally, a quick reminder that those of us who are Christians and work in ministry have a language all our own. We need to be sure that we keep it off our website! Your church may very well be ‘spirit-filled” and “washed in the blood,” but to an outsider who has never been to church before, that may sound more like a TV show about the paranormal or a horror movie, than a church.
Take a good look at your current online presence and see where you might need improvements. Use these tips to help you update any trouble spots so you can make sure that you are truly rolling out the welcome mat online through an effective church website. You may just see more visitors in the door this Sunday!