3 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Church Website

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For many, spring is a time of motivation.  The changing of the seasons get people excited to do new things or clean up old stuff.  So why not give a little seasonal makeover to your church’s website?  Here are three things you could do to spruce up your website to make it more effective.

Tell more stories.  Personal connections always tell a more powerful story than just words that make up a description.  For example, if you’re talking about what your women’s ministry offers, don’t just make a list. Find someone involved in the ministry and tell her story.  Get to the root of what made a difference for that person.  Tell her story as a way to compel others to join in.  Add pictures.  Use video.  Whatever technology level your church is comfortable using, do it to tell a story.  Someone new who’s looking to become more involved in a ministry will be far more likely to take action when you tell a good story.  Just a list of what you do is more likely to get skipped over.

Add more real life pictures.  Get rid of the exterior pictures of your church.  Ditch the pictures of an empty sanctuary. Reduce your reliance on stock photography, too.  Instead add pictures that show people in your church.  Show them in action.  Give site visitors a real-life look at who you are.  Yes, the issue of privacy comes up, but don’t let it be a barrier.  The main concern is regarding talking pictures of kids.  It’s common practice to give parents a chance to opt-out when they first bring their child to the children’s area.  Figure out your policy and move forward from there.

Simplify your website navigation.  Can visitors easily find the information they’re looking for?  How about your regular attenders?  Are your menu bar items easy to understand and well organized?  No one likes to dig for information.  Looks for ways to simplify your menus by grouping information.  There is no magic number for the number of menu headings you should have; some will recommend a max of five to seven.  That’s a fine guideline, but the bottom line should be to do what works for you in keep things simple.     

Have you been doing some website spring cleaning this year?  If so, what changes are you making?

Posted in: Church & Web; Blog Photo courtesy of Philip Wilson - http://www.flickr.com/photos/internetsense/6789942482/in/photostream/ Image: See Credit

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These  are good ideas.  I think stories, pictures and navigation are some key elements. I would add to navigation that getting some statistics on how the site is used can help in navigation. Be sure to get direct links on the home page for the places people most want to see, or put them right out there (e.g. sermon links).

It is a puzzle what to put on the front page, because we want visitors to see what they need there, and to go deeper if they find an easy way to get where they want to go. Some home pages use a minimalist approach -- a welcome note, a friendly picture, and 5-6 choices for navigating to a more detailed page. Others treat the home page a short-hand site map. Get the five main areas out there in front of everyone, and give them some detail sub-links as well. 

Then there is the attempt to get a lot of visitors, so we include Bible Gateway links, a Bible verse for the day, the local weather, and links to local government or entertainment. These are attempts to make a the church's site a portal site. It is labor intensive and maybe works in small communities, but I doubt it works well beyond those places.

Our choices are in part determined by who we think our audience is. If it is newcomers and visitors, we want it to be simple and attractive, and get out a few key ideas and images that say who we are.  If it is our own members, then we want easy-to-find elements of our ministry -- information that members may need. And maybe one can do both, if members understand they have to go deeper into the site to get what they need.

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