The answer, as you have probably guessed, is that it can be both if done if done correctly. Let’s talk about how that can be done.
Being in the church web design industry, we look at a LOT of church websites, and have noticed something that is a bit concerning. Sometimes, people opt for the trendy, striking look for a website instead of making sure it does its job – to give people the information they are looking for.
Trends in web design come and go just as they do in fashion. Remember some of the styles from the 1950’s? They were all a huge hit back then, but then they changed. Each decade has its own set of “trendy” clothes. And so it goes with web design, the trends are changing all the time, and not always for the better.
What are some of the more common trends today in church websites?
The big, full-screen slideshows are in. And while we like the look of the bigger wide website and use it , there can be a couple of problems to be aware of.
First, to make this look work, the church needs to have someone who can take high quality pictures and has somewhat of an “eye” for the lens. If you have lower quality photos in this area, it immediately brings the quality of the entire site down. The top slider area is the first thing people will notice and will shape the impression they have of the rest of the site, along with their impression of your church. So, you have to be sure your church is the right fit for this look.
Secondly, most people will only sit through a few slides before they move on to the rest of the site. So, be sure to keep the slideshow manageable and have your most important slides first so they are more likely to be seen.
Paralax is a technique web designers use for more interesting scrolling effects. The parallax section has a background picture which moves slower than the rest of the page is moving during scrolling.
Parallax can offer a very striking design, but here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Parallax uses more images which can slow down your page loading speed. This can be frustrating to your visitiors.
- It may not be as “mobile responsive” as it should be, meaning it doesn’t look as good or function well on different sized devices, such as a phone or tablet, as it does on a laptop or desktop.
- It can be overwhelming to your visitors if you use too much parallax effect as it has the tendency to create mile-long homepages with lots of images.
Videos can be used effectively to give your web visitors a personal look at your church before they actually visit. Many church websites provide videos of the worship or the pastor giving a welcome message. This can be a benefit to someone who has never been to the church as it gives them a close-up look at it. However, again, as with anything, videos can be “too much of a good thing” if not kept to a reasonable length and amount.
The sensational effect has become more and more common among church websites, and while, it might have a place on part of the website, it should not be the overriding theme.
We feel a church site should be very attractive (and can be trendly) and offer interest to the visitor, but at the same time be very functional. While all of these trends can add interest and excitement to a site, don’t sacrifice functionality and clarity for them. It is essential that someone visiting your church website can easily find what they came looking for, and are not confused about where to look or overwhelmed with images.