What Impression Does Your Website give to Visitors?

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A while ago I wrote an article detailing several items that every church website should include no matter the size of their church or website. Mick Mel's recent post "Don’t be like a “University Website"" details many of the items I mentioned along with several items that are unnecessary on your church's homepage. Most of the items are aimed at presenting a good impression for your church, but also help with not frustrating return visitors.

Mick Mel mentions elsewhere that you should examine how the photos on your website's homepage portray your church. If you have photos of just the building, does this mean that the church is just a building and not a body of believers? If there's only photos of the pastor, is the church just a place where people come to listen to the pastor? Do you only have photos of adults, but no children or elderly people? Finding the right photos is difficult and challenging but is a important use of time and effort, especially if its the first impression a visitor has of your church.

What's the craziest thing that you have seen on a church website?

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You mention photos of the building vs. the people of the church. I completely see your point. But here is the dilemma ... if the church has a small (or even medium-sized) budget for the website, where are the photographs of people going to come from?

Photos of the building are easy for an amateur photographer to take. But as soon as you put any people in those pictures, you can tell pretty easily that they were not done professionally. Everything from lighting to posing and framing becomes much more difficult to do right. And my thought is that amateurish photos don't belong as design elements in an otherwise professionally-made layout—they stick out like a sore thumb. (A church photo gallery would be a different story.)

So if it's too expensive to hire a real photographer to take quality photos of "real people" for the site, and amateur photos don't look right ... what's left? Stock photos.

And those pose another problem. I remember one time that my church of maybe 100 people switched to a pre-made bulletin design that had photos clearly meant to promote or reflect racial diversity at the church. And while we would have loved to have more diversity in our congregation, the fact was that those photos didn't really match what our congregation looked like, and so it was immediately obvious that we had picked those bulletins out of a catalog.

Meanwhile, I saw a similar bulletin when I visited a large church closer to the heart of the city, and yet I had a feeling I was looking at photos of people that actually attended that church.

All of that to say ... stock photos can end up having a really weird effect when used in church materials, since a church is supposed to be a community where you know and recognize lots of other people. And yet the smaller communities that know each other best are the ones that would least be able to afford their own professional photography.

So I think it's a dilemma! I completely agree that something is missing if you only have church building pictures. Any thoughts on a solution?

Guide

I think that amateur photos are fine, as long as they are in focus! Candid shots make it seem more authentic.