With over 500 million registered websites on the WWW, you can definitely find a slew of horrifically designed websites. Unfortunately many of those websites are faith-based organizations. Please recognize that we live in 2016 and the Internet provides unlimited ways to communicate and connect to potential audiences. The website you form could be and should be your number one communication tool. With that rant over, here are 8 keys to have a great website. Get after it!
1) Don’t be cheap
In most cases, it is extremely difficult to build an effective website with not spending money. Sure, you can find a template and make it work (if you are skilled), but your church is not a template. If you are going to bust your budget, bust it here.
2) Take your time
Slow down and take a deep breath. Before you embark on creating a website, set aside a day or two to think, research and meet with people to understand what the website needs to look like and offer.
3) Use experienced and proven professionals
I am all for volunteers and lay people using their skills and talents to impact the church, but this may not be the place for their volunteerism. Again, your website is one of, if not the most important communication tool you possess. Use people who know what they are doing and provide great work. Below is a list of really good companies that can give you what you need.
4) Tell your story
Communicate, communicate and communicate some more your story. Who you are? What you do? Where you’re going? Tell the story with stories, pictures, videos, etc.
5) Relevant content and design layout
People are visiting your website on purpose. Take time to think through what your audience wants to receive instantly when visiting the website. Make sure to use words that are familiar with non-church attendees. Use Adults, Children, Students, Volunteer instead of Community, Zoola Land, Xtreme X and Engage. Please keep your content and design layout simple and provide people what they want with one click away from homepage.
Tip: You already know this, but make sure you have Google Analytics tied into your website for tracking. Thank you to Google, for making it insanely easy to know what content is relevant and should be featured.
6) Be known
The worst thing in the world is to have beautiful website and receive no visits. If search engines don’t know you, nobody will. Take some time and explore your options. They are unlimited, from search engine optimization campaigns to Google ads to Facebook ads. Optimizing your website and managing ad campaign is insanely time consuming. This is another area where hiring experienced and proven professionals are a plus.
7) Socially connected
With social media moving at a rapid growth pace, your website must be connected to the movement. Make it easy for people who visit your website to connect with you socially. But please make sure that well designed and high-resolution social icons are used in designed. Enough with highly pixilated and over sized icons!
8) People click on videos
It’s amazing how a video can inspire people more than words. Don’t get me wrong, words are great as I am typing them right now. But, in our digital age people like clicking on videos. i.e. – YouTube. If you cannot produce a ton of videos then make sure you do one great church overview video. This overview video must include the vision and mission of church and should include information on age specific ministries and what your church is doing to bring hope to world.
Tips: You guessed it, use people that are good. Use video footage of your people. Please do not include close up shots of the guy playing electric guitar. Be creative and tell a story. Oh yeah, iTunes has over a billion songs available for use, don’t go cheesy and unoriginal on song choice.
In summary, your website is one of the most important communication tools you have. Take your time, think, don’t be cheap and make sure people know about your website and receive what they are looking for as soon as possible.