About 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?