There’s something about the first warm day in Spring, especially if you’re bouncing back from gloomy winters as we do where I sit near Chicago. While the abundant sunshine gives hope that flip-flop season will actually arrive soon, it also shows just how much dirt has accumulated during the lethargic winter. And so it’s a time of year where many of us find a rare enthusiasm to clean our homes and yards. As a church communicator, it’s also a great time to look over your website. Here are some areas where your site might need some sprucing up.
Cut back text on the homepage. Think of your homepage as a glimpse into the life of your church. That’s the opposite of blabbing on and on about everything that you do. Highlight the core of who you are so that your homepage oozes vision, passion and stories of life change. You can always give navigational pathways for people to dig deeper. Don’t forget the must-haves like service times, location and current sermon topic.
Refresh copy elsewhere. While subpages may get forgotten by church staffers, those areas are important to website visitors. Take time to evaluate all your pages to make sure information is up-to-date. Does the text match the tone of the rest of your site? Are there enough pictures? Is the information accurate? Do links work? Use your editor’s eye to tighten up text and improve how you’re presenting information.
Add more images. It may seem like I mention picture-based storytelling in almost every post. Well, it’s that important. We live in an image-driven communications world and many churches are way behind in showing their church in action. People won’t read through long chunks of text, especially on the homepage. Use pictures of your actual congregation to give an up-close view of what your church is like. Showing your church removes barriers for visitors making the move to visit you in person. Also, just adding pictures by itself isn’t enough. Make the commitment to take high quality images and display them big on your site.
Beef up calls-to-action. Always think about “what’s next” as you’re evaluating website content. What do you want someone to do after they look at a certain section of your website? Some CTAs are one step: sign-up for the weekly email or click to learn more about a typical Sunday experience. Other involve longer workflow. On the homepage, you might cast vision for your children’s ministry with a link to read more in the kids section. From there, the next call-to-action could be signing up for vacation Bible school. CTAs are about creating a guided journey for users.
Check basic functionality. Websites break. Sometimes it’s unexplainable, but enviably it happens. Spend time going through your website, clicking all the links and following your menu options to ensure they work. Make sure images and text are displaying correctly. Also check any “contact us” links to make sure they actually land somewhere where staff can reply.
Start a to-do list for future updates. Some website changes are as simple as editing text. Others require actual design changes to the site. Websites are always evolving. Identify areas that need more strategic thought and larger updates. Prioritize that list as you start to take on those larger modifications in the future.