In keeping with the Christmas season, I thought I’d write a post entitled “12 Days to a GREAT Church Website.” I like to incorporate a little fun in my posts if possible. Let’s get started.
Day 1: A Professional Look
We talk to a lot of churches that tell us that they have someone in the congregation who can make them a site. We do understand about utilizing your member’s giftings and saving money at the same time. However, your website is now, in most cases, the first impression someone will have of your church. Do you want it to look “homemade” or professional?
Having a website designed for you by an actual web designer is an investment in the future of your church. It is expected now that you have a website, but gone are the days when you could just put up anything to get yourself online. People expect professional and eye-catching websites. Don’t do your church a disservice by skrimping on this.
Day 2: A Color Scheme
Choose your website colors carefully. Colors promote different emotions, so determine what feelings you want to encourage in someone who visits you on the web. Excited? Peaceful? Happy? Using the right colors can promote the feelings you want to convey.
Also, do you have a logo for your church? It’s a good idea to coordinate the colors from that with the colors on your website. Today, branding is a word that is used a lot. Having the same colors on your bulletins, newsletters, website and logo go a long ways in helping someone identify your church.
If you would like some tools to help you in choosing a nice color palette, check out our post on Web Design Colors. Of course, if we are your web designers, we would also offer advice on this if requested.
Day 3: Your Website Should Reflect Your Church
Does your website reflect who you are as a church? It should be an accurate representation of what someone will find if they visit your church. From the colors you use to the pictures you include on your site, everything should give a potential visitor the right idea of who your church is.
If your church is a young, modern congregation, reflect this in the style of site you have designed, the colors you use and the pictures you put on it. If it has a more conservative bent, make sure the website reflects that.
Day 4: Use Photos of Real People
When we first started designing church websites, it seemed that everyone was using stock photos on their website. Now, things have shifted to using pictures of real people and real events at your church. It makes sense too. No one will be able to get a very good idea of who goes to your church or what goes on there by using stock photos.
People will visit your website before coming to your church to determine if they want to visit or not. By having real pictures on it, you will help them make a good decision.
Day 5: Update Your Website Regularly
We get sad when we spend a lot of time and effort designing an awesome website for a church, only to find out six months down the road that nothing has been updated on it. That’s not what a website is for! It’s not a “one-time fix” kind of thing. When we turn over the website to you, you need to update events, sermons, and pictures on a regular basis. And, a little less often, but still important, is to take a look at your leadership and ministries pages to see if things have changed.
Someone visiting your website will want to see current information. That shows your church is active and up-to-date. If you are going to make the investment to have a website, be sure you can invest the time it takes to keep it up to date. You can enlist the help of some reliable people in your church.
Day 6: Have a Good Leadership Page
From our analysis of the site analytics, we know that the leadership page is one of the most visited pages on a church website. Please ensure the information and photos are current. If your elders have changed or if their picture is ten years old, it’s time to update!
And here’s a tip: When wording the bios of the leaders, use “he has been our pastor since 2002” instead of “he has been our pastor for fourteen years.” That way, the information doesn’t get outdated when the next year rolls around. For more information, visit our post at Building a Great Leadership Page.
Day 7: Have an Informative About Page
Your About page should tell some interesting and wanted to know facts about the church. This is where you can talk about the history of the church, your vision, statement of faith, etc. Some churches choose to include information here about what new visitors can expect to find when they visit your church, such as what you offer for children, how to dress, where to park, etc. You have some options of what to include on this page, so decide what you think would be most relevant to your visitors.
Here’s a little more information on creating a good about page.
Day 8: Include an Events Calendar
An events calendar makes it easy for someone, at a glance, to see what you have going on at your church. Whether you decide to go with a calendar or a list view, having the month’s events all in one place is a simple way to present them. Some calendars allow you to include pictures of the events which is a nice feature. Make sure you include the important information about an event such as location, date, time and a short description of what the event is all about.
Day 9: Check Your Analytics
On every website we design, we include Google Analytics (as long as the church as a Google account.) Be sure to check these statistics at least once a month to see which pages people are looking at. This way, you can focus some of your attention on keeping these pages updated and looking great.
You can also see where your site visitors are coming from. Which areas of your city do they live in? This might give you some great tips on where to focus some of your outreach efforts.
Day 10: ‘SEO’ Your Website
What is SEO? It stands for search engine optimization, which simply put, means making your website search engine friendly and letting Google and other search engines know what words/phrases you would like your church to rank for. Here’s an example.
If you are an evangelical church, you will want to attract people who are looking for an evangelical church. To do this, you will need to include the words “evangelical church” in certain key areas on your website as well as in your content. Although this may seem like a lot of work, it is worth doing to let those who are looking for what you offer know that you are there.
You may to read more about this on our post “Is Church SEO Necessary?”
Day 11: Social Media Links
Be sure to include links to your social media accounts on your website. That way, people can go to your Facebook/Twitter pages and see more of what’s going on at your church. It helps personalize you as a church.
Day 12: Encourage Participation
If you have a website, you want people to use it, right? That doesn’t just apply to new visitors, it also goes for your members. Make it a habit of telling them to check out things on your website. They will get used to going there to see what events are coming up or to relisten to a favorite sermon.
You can also encourage some of your congregation to get involved in keeping the website updated. If you have heads of different ministries, they can each keep their section current with information and pictures. Of course, that will take some training, but it’s a great way to get some help so the whole website doesn’t fall on just one or two people.
So, now you have twelve tips on how you can have a great church website. Don’t get overwhelmed, just take them one at a time and implement them on your site. Do you feel this post was helpful? What are the areas you see that you need to work on?
by Laurie Neumann