A site for sore eyes
A church’s website can be its noticeboard, its shop window, its communications hub, it’s mission field. How do you make sure it’s doing its job? We asked seven experts for their number one top tip in running an excellent church website. Some of them have more tips on their own sites, so browse away
Work on your front page
Keep the site’s front page rich in current information, presenting details on near-term events and providing plenty of content about the things the church feels are important today. Don’t be afraid to have a busy front page with lots of teasers to draw people in to view other, more detailed pages. In the age of primarily mobile web access, don’t worry about trying to limit front page content to what would be seen on a desktop screen – people are happy, even expecting, to have to scroll down to see more content – but do ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
Director, strikingly simple
Keep up to date
Make sure that your church website is kept up to date, because an out-of-date website will put people off from exploring your site further and could mean your church misses out on visitors. If you have a date-sensitive page then make a note in your diary of when to review/delete that page. Creating a page with an expiry date can prevent out of date pages from showing – this is a feature easy to do using Church Edit’s tools.
Managing director, Church Edit
Get an outsider’s
Your church’s website should be easy to navigate and welcoming to new visitors. Those who are browsing it may be interested in attending the next service, so it is crucial to present all of the information they require in order to do this.
To ensure your website is achieving each of its aims, why not ask somebody unconnected with the church to look through the site and give their opinion? This could be a friend or relative who doesn’t attend the church. This exercise will confirm how clear the information appears to those who know nothing or very little about your parish.
Blogger for Hammond & Harper of London
Show lives, not buildings
Bricks and mortar can be great, and an iconic representation of where your church meets. But, as you know, your church is not a building, it’s a community, and your website should be based around those real people, reflecting their real age, beauty and ethnicity in photographs, design and content. How you disciple, how you do mission, how you evangelise – these are key things that pull together your congregation, and your website should be communicating that to the world and encouraging others to be a part of it.
Creative director, Creative Stream
Use a web builder
If you want to see more people starting a journey with God and your church growing, the first place to look (after praying) is your website. It’s is the biggest window into your church and a poor website sends a bad message. Using a church website builder enables you to run an effective website without the need for technical knowledge or design skills. You can create and update pages as easily as using Microsoft Word, add podcasts, maps, calendars, videos and more. Target your content at seekers and then build in extra information for church members. For a small, strategic, monthly investment you can see real fruit.
Innovation director, CPO
Reflect the church you are
Ensure that your website reflects the church that it serves; visitors should not be shocked by a disconnect between what is “advertised” and what they experience. This means that website content should be considered in every aspect of church life, which not only gives information for church regulars but also gives a powerful opportunity to show the life of the church. Use a clean, fresh design and KEEP IT UP TO DATE!
Senior lecturer in digital marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University
Don’t write for your
When writing for the web, be absolutely clear about who it is that you’re writing for. Design your content and writing style around what would engage them (rather than what you’d like to tell them!)
Lawrence Moore and
Maintaining the site
The greatest limiting factor of your site is likely to be the time needed to maintain it.
A vital part of planning is working out the who, when and how of keeping the site healthy after the launch. Do this right at the beginning as it affects the design and function you choose. Share the load between two or three people and make a firm agreement about how much time you will devote to it.
Avoid building a beautiful, elegant site that gets stuck in time because you haven’t accounted for the effort it takes to keep it updated.
Press and media officer
The United Reformed Church
This is an extract from the September 2015 edition of Reform.