There are many churches with websites, but most are simple pages, which offer little of interest to their readers. That said, it only takes the knowledge of a few simple Do’s and Dont’s to ensure that the website you build for your church meets the needs of the congregation. Keep reading to find some easy ideas to help you get started on the right foot.
There are many basic tips when it comes to website design, and one that is often overlooked when creating a site for a church is that text navigation makes the site navigable by all who visit it. Cute buttons with crosses or angels are nice to look at, but then prevent many people on devices, which don’t display them properly to go through the pages of your website. They also stop search engine spiders from accessing all of your site, meaning that the search engine won’t list you in their results when people search you out.
The most likely reason for people to visit your church’s website is to find out what is going on there. Placing your most current upcoming events on the front page will ensure that people come back to see which new events are coming soon. This gives many visitors exactly what they want as soon as they reach the website, and a happy visitor will be a return visitor.
When you create an “About Us” page for your church, do not forget to explain how the worship services unfold. Explain the general chronology of the service, including prayers, psalms, sermons and even the youth congregation’s role within the service. Also discuss if there are any other services available, such as Sunday School or Youth Group, seniors’ assistance or day care.
You should also include worship times in a prominent space near the top of the front page. “Above the fold” is the term used when referring to the best place on a web page to place data. In traditional media, this would be above the fold on a newspaper, for example. On a website, it is the space within the first screen that shows of the website when your visitors reach the page. Look at your site in a typical resolution (you can Google statistics on which browser resolution is currently the most used) to make sure that you’re including your pertinent information above the fold. This should include your service times, address and contact information, and the name of the church.
Your church’s website should not be a one-way street! Engage the congregation and the community at large through conversation. Include a forum, blog, or social media accounts so that you can get feedback from the visitors to your website. Allow the community to discuss events you wish to hold there, such as Christmas Tree sales, Book Sales, Bazaars or even charity work you wish to do in the area. For example, letting your neighbors know that your Youth Group is raising money through snow shoveling will help them raise money for the church while your neighbors get a great service done for a small fee. If your community feels that, you care as much about them, regardless of their denomination, as you do your congregation, great things will come from it!
Many people who are seeking a new church want to know how it feels to experience a service, so show them with video or let them listen to sermons through audio. Audio files are a great way to also allow anyone who missed the service to enjoy the sermons at home while in bed sick or even having to work. Video files are larger and use more bandwidth, so including one or two on your site is probably the limit you should consider. You can also include videos of other events, such as a choir-singing event, and post them on YouTube to save money on server bills.
Just because your site is for a church does not mean you can build it and “they” will come. Search engine optimization techniques will ensure that your website is visible to the largest audience possible, and targeted keywords will help people who truly want to find your site to get there. Choose three key phrases which you believe someone looking for your church would use. For example, “St. Luke’s United Church” will bring up a million listings from around the world. A better choice would be “St. Luke’s United Church Etobicoke” or “St. Luke’s United Church King Street”, highlighting the location and giving a far more targeted search engine result.
Whether your visitor is someone searching for a new church, a member of the congregation or a person who is just seeking some spiritual guidance, your website must cater to all of their needs. Use the tips in this article to get started and you should have an Altar Live online in no time!