Fresh air. Melted snow. As a Chicagoan, I’m optimistic that warm weather will soon be here to stay. The joy of warmth also comes with the task of cleaning up the mess winter left behind.
If the change of seasons motivates you to do something new, here are five tips for sprucing up your church website.
- Add pictures of your people in action across the entire site. If there are images of people on your site, they should be your congregation, not stock photography. Beyond that, adding more images of your church in action gives people a glimpse of who you are and it enhances the story you’re telling about your congregation. For example, a page describing your church’s mission outreach is far more effective when it shows your members serving. It takes a culture shift to be intentional about regularly taking pictures at church or an event. Have a policy for using photos and then create a system to make sure you’re snapping shots to use online.
- Logically organize content. Think about the needs of various users of your site. What do visitors want to know? How about your members? Put the most vital information on the homepage and make it clear where they can click for more content. Think of it like a guided path. From the homepage, where do you want users to go next? Organizing your site like this keeps your front page clean and makes your sub-pages more valuable.
- No “coming soon” pages. Speaking of sub-pages, too often churches have pages that say the content is coming soon. It’s the equivalent of the little animated construction guy of the late 90’s. Either you have the content or you don’t. A website visitor is looking for information now. They’re not likely to keep checking back to see when you’ve updated a particular page. To the visitor to your site, “coming soon” communicates that your website is not a high priority. It’s better to not have a particular page than to just say it’s on the way.
- Make sure your website reflects your physical church. Part of creating a consistent experience is making sure your website is a good representation of who your church really is. If someone came to your website and then visited your church, would they feel any sort of disconnect? Hopefully not—there should be an immediate connection between your website and your church. Be true to who you are. Leverage your strengths. Give people an online glimpse of your church in action.
- Simplify. Complexity does not mean better information. People won’t sift through paragraph after paragraph of text, so edit text down to its simplest form. Likewise, a cluttered site isn’t the best way to serve users. Organize content into chunks. Open space makes your information more easily navigable and lets users logically glance through your site.
Do these five suggestions seem overwhelming for you? Here’s an idea for where you can first focus your efforts. Create a vision for your website. What is the purpose of your website? Who is it supposed to serve? How does it fit it with all the other communication avenues you use? Every church seems to have a vision statement, but challenge yourself to go beyond saying your website is just an online expression of that statement. Once that vision is in place, try working through the list above.