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Church website design ideas, tips, and thoughts from Christian leaders. Learn the essentials of effective church websites.

#fbf – How to Prepare Your Site for the Easter Rush

Easter is Almost HereFridays are great! A solid weeks worth of work has been accomplished, and a well deserved weekend of rest is just about here. That also means it’s time for flashback Friday (#fbf)! Today I was thinking about Easter and how it is going to be here before we know it. No no. It really will! Just you watch. So are we prepared? Is our church ready? Well I found a great article focusing us in on the importance of our website as it relates to encouraging people to attend your service. Check it out. It’s a good one!

How to Prepare Your Site for the Easter Rush

 

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4 Questions Visitors Ask of Your Church Website

 

computerAbout a year ago I moved to a new city. As a person of faith, finding a church community was extremely important to me, and, since it was 2015, I began my search online. Before I rolled out of bed on a given Sunday morning, I wanted to know what I could expect, so I scoped out church websites… lots of them. In my search, I discovered that many of the questions I was asking were not being answered… by the primary tool that churches use to address newcomers’ questions.

Who You Are
We all know the value of first impressions, and, for many, a visit to your site is the first impression you make on potential visitors. Make sure you’re not hiding or obscuring important details about yourself, and make sure that your style in person is matched by your branding and graphics online. Use your key nav positions to point visitors to information about what you believe/value, and to provide some info on your staff or leadership. (Remember that a church is composed of people and introducing folks to your leadership is a great way to make a human connection, even via a digital medium).

What You Do
The ministry of your church extends beyond Sunday mornings and well beyond your four walls, right? More and more, as culture becomes more disillusioned with religion, people want to know what you’re doing. Use your site to showcase the things you’re doingin your community – the ways through which you’re being the hands and feet of Jesus. Many of us are looking not for a place to hear a sermon and sing some songs on Sunday, but are looking for a people to serve with. Make sure you’re connecting those dots.

Where Are You
Believe it or not, finding where a church is located was one of the most consistently difficult things for me. Make sure that your physical location is on every page, and, where possible, use maps and images to make this very clear. Remember that a number of visitors may be new to the area, so also avoid using language that only those familiar with your city will understand. For instance, your “Monroe Park Campus” may not be as clear as you think to someone who just moved from across the country.

When Do You Gather
In my opinion, every page – or at least your homepage and several others – should have this info. While people may be interested in what you do beyond Sunday morning, the weekly service will be the starting point for 99% of people. Make sure that your meeting times are really clear and easy to find.

A really robust website can have a bunch of benefits for the full life of your church, but the primary audience for your site is – and will continue to be – new people looking to find answers to those questions. Make sure you’re putting the answers front and center.

How do you answer these questions?
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Are You Ready for Mobileggedon?

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Google has been making big news recently in the web and digital marketing world due to its recent announcement about an update to its search engine set for April 21st. The search engine giant’s announcement indicates that mobile friendliness will become a new ranking signal in its search algorithm. In layman’s terms, following this update, websites that are mobile-friendly will have better rankings in search results than those that are not so friendly.

In your day-to-day work in ministry, this may not seem like a significant piece of news. But, it is important to your church for one reason:

Your church website is an essential outreach tool!

So many people are searching online for all kinds of needs, including searching for a church. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, it will be harder for potential churchgoers to find your site on Google, and this outreach tool loses its effectiveness.

You may be asking a few questions about what this update is and what you should do as Mobileggedon approaches, so here are some details and ideas for you.

What does “Mobile-Friendly” mean?

Google identifies a mobile-friendly site as one that displays well on phones and tablets. Specifically, they are looking for sites that have text large enough to read on a mobile phone’s screen and links that are large and far enough apart to click with a thumb.

How do I know if my site is Mobile-Friendly?

The best way to start researching your site’s mobile-friendliness is to browse it on your own phone. Do you have to zoom in on any pages to make the text readable? Do you have trouble clicking links? If so, consider making some adjustments to create larger elements.

Another resource is Google’s Mobile-Friendly test. Submit your site’s url at this page and Google will tell you if you’re all set or give you suggestions to improve your site for mobile users.

What do I need to do to make my site Mobile-Friendly?

The good news is many church website providers, like Clover or SiteOrganic, as well as many WordPress themes, currently offer mobile site designs, so you may be ready for Google’s update now.

If you’re on a platform that doesn’t offer a mobile option, or if you have a custom built site, start making a plan today to update your site to be mobile friendly. Or consider changing to one of the previously mentioned mobile site options. This may include creating a separate mobile site (i.e. m.yourchurchname.org) or even a responsive design site (find more details about the options in this great article). But either way, get a plan now so you can rebound in search results quickly.

My church has a mobile app, so do I really need to care about Mobileggedon?

Yes! You may have an amazing app, and I recommend apps as a great tool for your existing churchgoers. But, you want to assure that your website can be found by future churchgoers, and a great way to do that is to be found in Google search results.

So, are you ready for the upcoming Google update?

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How to Prepare Your Site for the Easter Rush

Easter is around the corner, and as you know, most churches see a surge of first-time visitors for the occasion. Your church may, and should, take advantage of a number of ways to advertise your Easter services like social media, Google Adwords, direct mail, and word of mouth. But, one of the most common ways for people to find a new church any day of the year is extremely important for Easter too. It’s your website! Here are some tips to help you get your site in shape and ready for the Easter rush.

Make a great first impression
Your homepage is the first page most people will see on your website, so use it to its fullest potential. A few weeks prior to Easter, place information about your Easter services in a prominent place on the homepage. If you have a spot for an image, create a simple and inviting graphic about your Easter Sunday events and include service times for the day. The goal is to make it fast and easy for your visitors to find the basic details.

Map it out
On a contact us page or a page specifically for new visitors, include your address and directions to your location. Or, better yet, embed a Google map. This will help visitors find your facility quickly. Bonus tip: If you’ve already embedded a map on your site, verify that it is working correctly! You never know when your mapping service has made a change, making your map inaccessible.

We love kids
For kids, visiting a new place can be intimidating, especially when there is a buzz of activity like you’ll see at church on Easter Sunday. Help parents prepare their children by filling them in on your kids programs for the day. Don’t spell out every detail, but on your new visitors page, give basic info on classes and what kids will do during their worship time. Giving this info upfront will help parents and kids ease any nerves before the morning arrives.

Tag Team
With the additional traffic to your site just before Easter, don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote other spring events. Do you have small groups starting soon? Or is there an upcoming sermon series that shouldn’t be missed? Include your announcements for future programs on your homepage now. Hopefully the extra eyes on these announcements will lead to greater engagement in your ministry!

What do you do differently with your site around Easter?

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.Church and Why it Matters

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Image from Lightstock.com

What is it?

Tomorrow (9/17) the newest domain extension, .CHURCH, will be open to the general public. What does this mean for your church? Because so many churches share a name, the .COM extension has become overcrowded causing churches to add abbreviations, symbols, and locations to their domain names. The addition of .CHURCH establishes a new option for creating an online community for your church.

Why should you register for one?

1.)  Avoid “search frustration.” Because the .COM and .ORG extensions are so crowded with information it may be time consuming and frustrating trying to find your church’s website among the millions of search results. Help your congregation and community avoid “search frustration” by creating an easy to remember domain name such as YourChurchName.church.

2.)  Create a powerful marketing tool for yourself! Because a .CHURCH website will allow the community to find you easier and faster, information on your services, events, directions, and contact information will be just as easy to find.

3.)  Take a “defensive” approach. This new extension creates opportunities for wrong doers to abuse your church’s name and reputation. Even if your church isn’t interested in the new .CHURCH extension, it may be a good idea to take a “defensive” approach and register a domain name that may be used by someone trying to misrepresent your church.

4.)  New opportunities. Because many .COM and .ORG domain names are already taken, this new .CHURCH extension provides you with the opportunity to stake claim on a premium domain name that is shorter, more precise, and easier to find.

Ready to claim your new domain name?

You can pre-register for a .CHURCH website at most of the domain registrars listed here.

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