Your website is the front door to your church. Before anyone visits your church on a Sunday, they are going to check out your site. Here are ten vital ingredients for building an effective church website. You can see an example of each of these ingredients being utilized by a site designed by Churchfront. Visit www.deercreekchurch.com.
Ingredient #1 - A homepage using the hero layout
The hero layout is characterized by a full-width banner image or video that fills up space on your home page above the fold. The “fold” is toward the bottom of the page before you start scrolling down. The imagery you use should be vibrant pictures or footage of your church community. This allows people to assess what type of community you are within seconds. The key is to show people in this imagery.
Ingredient #2 - A concise headline on the homepage describing who you are and how you can help
Concise headlines also help people understand who you are and how you can help them within seconds. Remember, you do not have their attention for long. The home page is not where you should be placing your church’s complete mission and vision statement. People do not have time to read that.
Ingredient #3 - One call to action
Assuming you want your website to encourage more first-time visitors, then create one call to action that says, “plan a visit.” Do not make “give” your call to action. When first-time visitors walk into the door of your church, do you immediately ask them to give? Of course not, but for some reasons many churches make this mistake by making the give button the primary call to action by putting it front or center and in the upper right-hand corner.
Ingredient #4 - Plan a visit page
Immediately upon someone visiting your site, you want to function as their guide. The best way to do this is to create a plan a visit page, which is linked to your call to action button on the home page. On this page, walk people through the process of where to park, how to check in kids, what they can expect in worship, and how they can get plugged in.
Ingredient #5 - Mobile-friendly design
This is obvious, but I still see church websites that are not mobile-friendly. About 70% of internet traffic is mobile. Make sure your site is mobile optimized. An easy way to tell is your top navigation collapses into a hamburger menu, and everything scales to the proper size and layout so your text and graphics are still easy to read.
Ingredient #6 - Less information
Less is more with website design, especially on your home page. You only have seconds to communicate the vital information people need to visit your church. When they see paragraphs of texts or dozens of photos, they are immediately going to check out and watch funny cat videos on Youtube. Those are way more interesting than an overloaded church website.
Ingredient #7 - Simple navigation
Keep your navigation simple. There shouldn’t be more than 6 or 7 items in the top layer or your header navigation, and you do not need a billion items in your dropdown folder. These are a pain to navigate in mobile. If you have a bunch of ministries in your church, create one page for ministries and on that page create links to individual ministries, rather than listing them all in your navigation.
Ingredient #8 - An excellent leadership page
A lot of people will visit your leadership page. Have some professional but casual photos of your church staff. You can also include brief bios. In all of the church websites I have designed, the leadership page is one of the top most trafficked pages. People want to know who they have to listen to for an hour on Sunday and who is going to take care of their kids. Make sure your leadership page makes a good first impression.
Ingredient #9 - Easy access to sermons
Another highly-trafficked page is the sermon page. Whether it’s your congregation wanting to listen to a sermon they missed or potential new visitors wanting to preview sermons, you must make it easy for them to quickly navigate to your sermon media. Include links to your podcast feeds so they can subscribe.
Ingredient #10 - Online giving integration
This is another feature that’s vital on your website for people attending your church. Most giving platforms easy integrate into your website. I love giving interfaces like Planning Center and PushPay because they are easy-to-use, mobile optimized, and only take seconds to setup a one-time or recurring gift.
What else would you add to this list of ingredients for an effective church website? Let me know in the comments below.