By Jonathan Howe
Earlier this week, I spoke with a worship pastor about his church’s website. He has just been hired to lead the music and media ministry at his church and is new to web work. He was looking for some low-hanging fruit on the website to fix and make an immediate improvement.
What I found on the site was good information, but poor presentation. The site had been cobbled together over the past few years and had a lot of info. But the homepage was a bit of a mess, the graphics were dated, and the navigation was confusing. I recommended the six changes below for the site. The more I thought about it, the more I realized these are problem areas for other churches as well. So, here are six little changes you can make to your church website that can make a big difference.
- Get your menus set up correctly. The navigation menu for your website should be simple. Menus typically include the following: about, plan your visit, ministries, media, giving, and contact. It’s best to use drop downs for other items under each main menu tab. Keeping the most important information in the main menu at the top of the page makes it much easier to navigate for users and also allows you to place priority on where you’d have your website visitors go.
- Make sure your content is correct and updated. On the site I was reviewing, the sermon information from this past weekend was still on the home page. This is easy to fix with a weekly website checklist. It’s just a matter of getting it done each week. A weekly website checklist allows you to keep track of needed updates.
- Use the best possible graphics. Your church likely does not have a graphic designer on staff. So how do you improve the graphics on your site? You have three main options: contract out your graphics work, join an online design community, or use a design program. Thanks to online programs like Canva and Open-Edit-Print, it’s actually quite simple to design professional-looking graphics on your own.
- Activate online giving and label it properly. With technology as ubiquitous as it is, online giving should almost be a given for churches. If you do have online giving, please make sure you label it properly. “Donate” or “Tithe” can confuse website visitors. “Give Online” or simply “Online Giving” are the easiest and most obvious labels to use.
- Make it easy to contact your church. If you have a contact tab in your main menu, you should have a contact page for website visitors to use. On the contact page, be sure to include the address, phone number, and email of the church. And if at all possible include a contact form to make it easy for those looking to contact you immediately.
- Use your homepage wisely. One of the biggest mistakes churches make on the homepage is cluttering the homepage with things that aren’t important. Keep the homepage as clean as possible and include the most important information you can.
Does your church’s website need some of these corrections? What might you add to this list?
Thanks, Jonathan! I love that you put navigation first. A lot of churches forget how important this is.
It makes a huge difference. We’re trained to go there first with our eyes. So it needs to be clear.
Make sure you have a mobile site or that your regular website works on phones and tablets. Also, choose your words carefully that you use to describe the congregation.
Yeah. Sites these days are nearly all mobile-friendly. If it’s not, then it’s tie for a redesign.
What are resources for online giving? I’m in the dark on how to get this started.
Here are several options: http://churchmediahunt.com/category/mobile-giving/
Ask people in your congregation if there is someone who does this! There are many professionals as well as hobbyists who may provide totally free or very low cost help.
Great word, Jonathan!
The church office hours are also important to include with the contact info. Especially if they are not the usual Monday – Friday, 9-5.