Essential features that every church website must have
This article is about essential features every church website must have.
If your church website is unattractive, outdated, poorly organized, dull or incomplete, then it creates an impression that your church also is dull, out of touch, dowdy, disorganized, or unable to visualize and communicate the most important and basic information.
Digital presence is an essential to reaching a modern-day audience. But it should be with effective, easy to navigate and user-friendly websites with correct content.
Following characteristics of great church websites or say every church website must have can be applied to fix what is broken on existing website or can be followed in building new website.
This is not a suggestion but it’s a must have feature of any website to reach targeted audience. Nowadays higher percentage of website traffic comes from smartphones. And your website needs to be user-friendly when viewed on a mobile device. If visitors find it difficult navigating your site or reading its content from their smartphones, they will simply move on and forget about your site.
If your website is not running with the secure connection, visitors to your website may now see warning, such as “Your connection to this site is not private. Information you submit could be viewed by others (like passwords, messages, credit cards, etc.)”. Alongside with warning, there will be a “Not secure” label next to website URL. Instead of compromising visitor’s security, a website should have installed security certificate. Every church website must have SSL if they’re taking donation online for their church.
Easy and simple navigation
To create great user experience, church website must have easy and simple navigation. Website should be cluttered with difficult language or too many menu options. Fewer options with clear navigation will make easier for visitors to find information they are looking for. For easier navigation, place menu consistently across all pages, label content properly and clearly, show and highlight top priority and most useful content up front. The most important information about your church must be available in plain view and should be present in an attractive manner to keep website visitor engaged for sometime.
Present worship information
Every church website must have section with worship location and time. It should be in a place which is easy to find and highlighted. Make sure that website visitors can find these crucial information on your website easily before they move on.
Is a ministry in itself
Nowadays peoples are looking for support and spiritual education online. Many peoples said that the website helped in their ability to share their faith with others. Every church website must have learning tools that invite interaction with church members, ideas, and church.
Choose easy to remember domain name
The domain name is most basic element of an informative and successful website. Domain name should be easy to remember and related to church. After all easy to remember domains get more traffic than complex domains.
Look for outreach
Current members and peoples related to church will obviously visits the website for information and this is the most important thing most church websites forgot. So the aim of church website should be to outreach those who never heard of the church or visited the church in person.
If you want to keep peoples interested then you need to keep your content fresh and updated. Always share something new with peoples to show and present activeness. Update your site with sermons, community updates, news, blog posts, and quality content often as possible. These are characteristics of a great church websites.
Provide basic information about Sunday services. Probably most of visitors will like to know about Sunday services and special seasonal services happening on Sundays.
Christian faith explanation
It can be really useful if your website shows that what church believes. If you are not looking to write something unique or own explanation then you can put the link to an external page written by someone else like “Christianity Explained Here”. You can also provide the testimonies of church members explaining the difference Christianity makes.
How to find church
Every church website must have easy to find location information on their site. Show website visitors where your church is so they can visit the church easily. For local community, it’s easy to find the church based on address and other landmarks. But you should also include information on travel via train or bus with links to local timetables of availability of those. To make it easier, show your address on every page in footer or header, create a page with address – direction – map, show address on homepage, etc…
Church website must have contact details
Every church website must make it easy for their visitors to contact them. Most common places of contact information are footer, header and contact page. Contact details should include contact form, email address, phone number, full address of church, map (or an image of map) with routes. Additionally, there can be social media links and contact information of staff.
Leader profiles or say staff information
Leader profiles give newcomers a feel for who’s already there and for regular attendees it can be a source for contact information. In leader profiles, you can list ministerial staff, their positions, short biography and photo, contact and social media information, etc…
Generally, church websites have two type of audiences. Existing congregants and peoples looking for a new church home. Commonly most people looking for new church home are trying to find on the web that where to go next Sunday morning. Every church website must have information on common questions of visitors, like do I need to dress up? where the church is located? is there Sunday school? Where is parking? etc… Welcoming visitors will force them to engage with the site for some more time.
Integrated with social networks
Social media sites is a new way of communication, being in touch with friend – family and most importantly to share information amongst their group. Information shared about church on social media will get new visitors for the site. For example if there an account of church on Facebook, people can easily share link to their profile and share their views on it.
Every church website must put sermons online no matter it’s in audio, video or plain text format. Few reasons why this is important is that church can reach peoples anywhere around the globe, regular attenders of church can listen to the sermons they missed and most importantly potential visitors can listen sermon before they decide to attend it first time.
Providing the right event calendar cannot only help you grow, it can streamline your internal operations as well. When it comes to planning an event for church, several things to consider including coordinating all of the details to making it a success and raise awareness about it. Instead of listing all information in plain format there should be an event calendar.
Easy to find links for online giving or donation
Every church website must have a clear, visible and easy to find link for donation. After all this is the main feature of non-profit websites. There should be an attractive and large call to action on all pages of the site from where visitors can quickly initiate the donation process. Alongside with it there should be a good donation form on separate page and one setup of sending thank you email notification to donors.
With an online calendar, you can list as much as information you would like. Therefore the most important information is weekly calendaring meetings. It can be also useful to show information including timetables, Sunday services, special seasonal services, etc…
Church websites need to be maintained by someone that is experienced. Person who handling church website must have experience in making changes in graphics, edit content of website, manage things from backend, integration of social media platforms, basics of search engine optimization, etc… Even if the website is up and running well there should be someone who makes changes in content of website and tweak the site regularly to compete with other sites and maintaining the presence online.
These are my personal opinions based on reviews/requirements I often received for church sites I worked with. And my personal views to make good and usable church websites. In case if I’ve missed any important point in every church website must have list then please share it with me.