7 Fixes to Make Your Church Website More Engaging

in Websites / 25 Jun 2018

“Your website is the front door of your church for many, many people,” says Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church, North Carolina, USA. In fact, it can be the door to 17 million non-churchgoers who visit church websites every year! Kevin adds, If you’d put a greeter at the front door of your physical church… surely you ought to take the same care with your church’s website”.  

Well, we couldn’t agree more! Your church website meets and greets visitors 24/7, which is why it needs constant upkeep. Is your church website performing at its best? Continue reading this blog post to learn about seven easy fixes that can improve your church website.

ideas-church-website1. CLARIFY YOUR WEBSITE’S PRIMARY TARGET AUDIENCE

Considering that 80% of new visitors check out a church’s website before stepping into its premises, it’s clear that your church website’s primary target audience is newcomers. However, it’s not enough to ensure that your website addresses new visitors in general.

Keep in mind that newcomers can include anyone, be it families, young adults or couples. Therefore, it’s important to narrow down your audience to a specific demographic. While doing so, it’s key to keep the vision of your church in mind.

Does your church intend on connecting with and serving the youth in your city? If so, check if every element on your website – right from the look and feel to the content – is geared towards connecting with that demographic.

2. UPDATE YOUR WEBSITE’S CONTENT

While it’s common practice to promote special events and services on your website, you need to ensure that details are up to date. So, make sure that your home page does not continue to showcase past events.

Additionally, it’s crucial to keep other content including sermons, calendar of events, serving opportunities and service timings up to date. This is vital for users as research shows that the top three actions they take on church websites are listening to and downloading sermons, browsing serving opportunities and looking for service information.

On the other hand, outdated content can make your church look unprofessional. Do you want to risk giving your visitors the wrong impression of your church?

3. HIGHLIGHT IMPORTANT CONTENT

While 43% of online users check service timings, 28% look for a map or directions to the church. That’s not all, the I’m New section is the most accessed page on church websites. Given that the primary target audience is newcomers, it’s not surprising that these details are the most sought-after information by online users.

In addition, 29% of viewers look for different activities in church, while 26% stream video or audio sermons on the website. So, it would be a good idea to highlight these sections on the home page as well, especially when most online users spare only 15 seconds on a website.

Take a look at the home page of Glad Tidings Church, Canada, for ideas. The first fold (the first visible section on the website) offers two options for newcomers: a link ‘New Here?’ in the navigation bar and a call-to-action button ‘Find out more’. On scrolling further down the home page, you’ll see quick links that redirect to last week’s message and other events.

ideas-church-website4. ADD IMAGES OF YOUR CHURCH

Your church website is the perfect platform for you to share the story of your church. Well, what better way to tell your story than by using visuals? Considering that 81% of online viewers only skim through online content, it would be ideal for you to use images and videos to grab and hold their attention.

It’s also important to use authentic images of your church. While using stock photography can be the more economical and convenient option, it’s not always the best. Kevin D. Hendricks, editor of Church Marketing Sucks, says that using stock photography can backfire rather than lend professionalism to your work. It can also “send the message that your church isn’t creative or authentic”.

So, invest in hiring a professional photographer to capture moments from your services, events, Bible studies, etc., and highlight them on your website. After all, you want your website to reflect your church’s true character. Take a look at NewSpring Church’s website to see how they’ve showcased their church life through authentic images.

However, if using stock photography is a more feasible option for your church, make sure that you select your images carefully. Remember that your website is an extension of your church. So, refrain from using images of people who don’t reflect your congregation’s demographic.  

5. ENSURE CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION BUTTONS

According to Luke Marzono from Clover, your church website is missing a key piece of the puzzle if it doesn’t have clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Well, we couldn’t agree more! After all, one of the main aims of your website is to move spectators to participants as quickly as possible”. So, how are they to take the next tangible step without a clear CTA?

Well, you need to look at the different sections on your website and identify what action you’d like your visitors to take. For instance, your events page should ideally offer a CTA that will encourage online viewers to attend the event.

Therefore, a relevant CTA would be ‘Join Us’. Take a look at the example from Elevation Church’s website below. This section highlights a clear CTA ‘Sign Up to Serve’ to prompt viewers to serve in their outreach programme.

ideas-church-websiteAndy Crestodina, the co-founder of Orbit Media Studios, suggests that one good way of ensuring that your CTA is clear is by making sure that it passes the WYLTIWLT test:

  • Would you like to (button text)?
  • I would like to (button text).

In other words, Andy suggests that you ask yourself if the button text could be read in both the voice of the website and the voice of the visitor. This approach will help you craft effective CTA buttons.

6. FIX BROKEN LINKS

Simply put, these are faulty links that lead to a 404 error page instead of directing visitors to the content they’re looking for. As a result, online users tend to be discouraged from continuing to browse your website. This not only decreases your website’s viewers, but also lowers its ranking on search engines.

While it’s common for websites to have broken links, it’s important to fix them. In order to do that, you must first identify these faulty links by using Google Analytics. If you already have a Google Analytics account, log in to your account and select ‘All Web Site Data’ from the drop-down menu on the top-left of the page.

Once you select the option, you need to select the following: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

ideas-church-websiteFollowing that, click ‘All Pages’ and enter “404” in the search bar above the page list. This process will help you identify all the broken links on your website.  

ideas-church-websiteOnce you have identified the broken links, the next step is to fix them. To do this, we suggest the following steps:

Step 1: Click the ‘Export’ CTA on the top-right of the page previously mentioned. This will allow you to download a text file of your broken pages.

ideas-church-websiteStep 2: Transfer the data from the export onto a spreadsheet (we recommend Google Sheets) in order to assess and decide which pages you need to fix. Choosing the web pages with a higher number of visits is a good way to identify which pages need fixing. If your website is built on WordPress, you could use this plugin to redirect users to either your home page or any other web page of your website.

7. GET FEEDBACK

According to Scott Dixon, an expert at church website design, “one way to improve a website is to step back and look at the website from a different point of view”. He suggests getting feedback from your church members or friends who don’t know much about your website“Feedback can help define your focus; it can help you understand what is working or isn’t working”.

You could even integrate a simple feedback form into your website so that visitors can tell you what they think while they’re online! Using a form definitely allows them some freedom in what they say due to their anonymity. One great service you could use to do create good forms is Typeform.

As mentioned earlier, your website is the virtual front door to your church. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure that your website is performing at its best. We hope that this blog post helps you make necessary changes to boost the performance of your website.

Here’s one more resource to help you maximise your website – the 50 Common Mistakes on Church Websites e-book. Download your FREE copy below to error-proof your church website.

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Image source: gt.church | elevationchurch.org

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