church website

The Church Website: Is It up to the Job?

Your Website Makes a Strong Impression.
What Does Your Site Say?

Today, the image a church portrays is so much more than just its physical appearance. A church’s, or any organization’s, web presence can play a key role in attracting and maintaining members. So just as you wouldn’t want the church landscaping to become overgrown or the front desk to be left unattended, you don’t want to neglect the church website.

1. Is information up to date?

Try to find the church location, contact information, service times, schedule of events, and basic belief statements or affiliations. Is this information easy to find? Is it accurate?

The most important aspect of the site is its usefulness. Those who visit come to gain information, so if what they’re looking for is hard to find or (worse) out of date, they’re no better off for having found the website.

Make sure that it’s someone’s task to update information on the website. If there’s so much information that it’s difficult to stay on top of, consider a less-is-more approach. Eliminate pages and information until the website is a manageable scope for staff. It’s better to be contacted by someone looking for information than to be misinforming people with out of date material.

2. Do members have access to helpful tools?

We rely so much on online interactions that allowing members to engage with the church on its website can be quite advantageous. To make your site helpful to members, invest in tools that will help them take care of church business wherever and whenever they need to.

 

  • Offer online registration to all the classes your church offers to children, youth, and adults. Members expect this level of convenience and efficiency, which can significantly reduce your administrative and mailing costs as well as make the website even more valuable to your entire parish. Having less paper to fill out, deliver, receive, and process is easier for them — and your church staff!
  • Give members the ability to volunteer for ministries online. This gives you to opportunity to make sure no tiny slips of paper, filled out during mass, get lost (or worse: that the person who has finally raised his hand never receives a follow-up call to guide him to the next step). All signups are digitally logged and stored, so nobody gets missed. And the electronic signup works beautifully with any online marketing you do from email or your social media sites.
  • Give members the ability to specify their own ministry preferences and availability online. Let's say Rosa and Marcus need to volunteer at the same services as their children, who are acolytes; but don't schedule Rosa and Marcus for the same services as the Johnson family, because they keep each other's small children from getting unruly while mom and dad are serving . . . oh, and they'll be on vacation July 2 through 15, so don't schedule any of them to serve then. Whew! It can get really complicated. Let your ministers set the criteria for when, where, how often, and with whom their family members serve. Don't worry — we're pretty sure you'll still have plenty to do at the church office without having to manage all of this.

 

3. Is it mobile-friendly?

Pick up a smartphone or tablet, and browse to the church website. How does it look? If the webpage is so small that you’re reaching for your reading glasses and mis-clicking on minuscule links, we’ve got a problem.

With the prevalence of mobile technology, it’s important that websites are designed in a platform with a responsive web design that auto adjusts for the dimensions of the device in use. Without a responsive design, a site can be very difficult to use, and if a website is frustrating, people are less likely to persevere to find the information they need.

 

4. Have you thought about SEO?

Pretend you’re looking for information on your church (or churches like yours), and do a quick Google search. What do you find? Is your website at the top of the search results? Is it on the first page?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important for any website because it helps websites show up on Google, Bing, or other search engines. Search engines evaluate websites based on the newness and quality of their content. Here are a few ways to improve SEO:

  • Update information often by posting new announcements and information and reworking content as needed.
  • Link to “fresh” sites that are posting new content regularly (for example, faith-based news sites, daily readings, etc.)
  • Link to the church’s social media pages that are actively updated.
  • Start a church blog and post new content regularly. This is a big task, but it can really boost SEO if done correctly. Check out our 3-part blog series, developed with our partner company LOGOS, for tips on creating a church blog.

 

Maximizing the website is worth it!

For many, the church website is the front landscaping and welcome desk. When searching online for a church, the homepage is the “landscaping” that greets them and the physical welcome desk is replaced by a website’s layout and navigation that either points them in the right direction and provides accurate information or leaves them bewildered or misinformed. So go the extra mile, and make sure that your church’s web presence is what you would have it be!

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