Have you ever stopped to take a hard look at your church’s website? Even if you have the most loving, warm, and welcoming church, it might not be reflected through your website. Now more than ever before, it’s vital for churches to have a website that accurately represents their church, is easy to use, and fully functional to serve the needs of their members and visitors. Since most people do their church shopping online before making an in-person visit, your church’s website serves as the first impression. If a new person visits your church’s website and doesn’t like what they see, they’ll most likely move on to the next church.
With COVID-19 causing many churches to operate fully (and virtually) online, your church’s website has to be extremely functional and user friendly to continue to keep your congregation feeling connected and engaged during this season. Even if you’re already allocating some budget towards digital advertising for outreach, if your church’s website isn’t user friendly, there’s a low likelihood a user will remain on the page. If you’re looking to improve your church’s website, keep reading to find out the 5 elements of the best church websites. We hope these ideas spark inspiration to boost your church’s site!
One of the best ways to connect with users online is by utilizing eye-catching visual content. New people want to get a feel for what it would be like to walk into your church when they visit your website. A great way to capture a new person’s attention is to draw them in using warm and welcoming imagery. Instead of using generic stock photography on your church’s website, consider capturing meaningful moments at your services, special events, small groups, or youth nights with happy people smiling and connecting in fellowship together.
The hero image or video is the first visual a user sees when they land on the site. It’s above the fold, meaning they don’t have to scroll to see it. This image or video sets the tone for the rest of the site and needs to immediately capture the attention of the user. There are a lot of ways to utilize this space on a church’s website. For example, you can have a video play in the background of the latest sermon or worship experience, have a slider with multiple images, or utilize a bright and vibrant photo with CTA buttons. Check out below these great examples of powerful imagery used on high converting church websites:
It’s important to frequently update your site and add fresh, high-quality content regularly to keep current members active and engaged. Especially during COVID-19 where most church members are socially isolated, people need a way to stay active and involved in the church, even if it’s physically done at a distance. Additionally, Google likes to see that sites are frequently posting new content and rewards churches by giving them a slight boost in search rankings. By having engaging and fresh content, your church’s website will see positive engagement site metrics like increased time on site and pages per session. Below are some ideas from other churches for you to gather inspiration from:
- Host a live stream of your Sunday services with an interactive chat feature
- Add a Netflix-Esque Sermon Library
- Have an online Bible study or morning devotional
- Create and upload videos of mission work, testimonials, events, and worship
- Upload free sermon outlines or resources
- Downloadable resources for Christian parenting or marriages
Strong Calls To Action
Next up on the list of the 5 elements of the best church websites is having strong calls to action.
Calls to action serve as a way for a user to be guided throughout the site and encourage them to take a next step or specific action (also known as a conversion). Some examples of calls to action include inviting a user to watch a video or get directions. It’s important to keep in mind who you’re trying to appeal to when using calls to action in order to keep them relevant to the target audience. For example, a new website visitor might be intimidated by a CTA to “Get Baptized” or “Join a Small Group” but would probably feel comfortable streaming a worship experience or downloading a free resource.
Below are some examples of CTAs:
Throughout your site, you can gear CTAs to different types of audiences. For example, CTAs used on a page with information on joining a small group can use bolder language for next steps since people visiting this page are probably already existing members of your church or at least actively church shopping.
A great way to hyper-target your calls to action is by using a Felt Needs Subdomain geared specifically to the unchurched. Those that are unchurched or new to Christianity can be especially challenging to encourage to take a next step or action on a church’s website since they can easily feel intimidated or nervous. A subdomain allows you to easily target your church’s content specifically to this audience and utilize gentle CTAs that feel more doable to a new person not as comfortable with church.
Your church’s website might look great on desktop or tablet, but if it doesn’t function properly on mobile, this could cause a large drop off in rankings, traffic, and engagement. In 2020, it’s estimated that over half of all website traffic is on a mobile device. Google has announced that its algorithms are now ranking content primarily mobile-first. Additionally, Google claims that 94% of people with smartphones search specifically for local information on their phones (Source: Google). That means that if your church’s site isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be losing almost half of online users and potential future church visitors.
Your church’s website on mobile should function as well as on a desktop. However, many churches fail to adequately optimize for mobile. Is your church’s site difficult to navigate on mobile? Is the copy getting cut off? Are images the incorrect size? Are videos working? These are some basic elements that churches frequently fail to catch which can be a major reason church websites do not perform well. Having a mobile responsive website layout is a great tactic for easily converting your site to being mobile-friendly. Below is a great example of a very user-friendly church website from New Hope First Baptist Church. The design works great on a mobile device and is very clean. The main navigation menu is collapsable so that it’s not in the user’s way and is organized and easy to find the page you’re looking for.
In addition to being one of Google’s ranking factors, users get incredibly frustrated if a site does not load rapidly. In a study conducted by Google, over half of all users abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Source: Google), making it a leading source of drop off. If your church’s website doesn’t load under 3 seconds, you could be losing new people before they ever even look at your website. Optimizing for site speed is a delicate balance of achieving fast load times without sacrificing design elements for user experience. For instance, some of the most difficult elements to load on your church’s website, are often also the most visually appealing to users like images or videos which are helpful for conversions. Below are some simple strategies to boost your church’s site speed:
- Compress images
- Decrease redirects
- Remove unnecessary plugins
- Invest in high-quality hosting
- Utilize browser caching
Get A Free Audit
Are you ready to increase engagement and attract new people by implementing some of these elements into your church’s website? If you want to see where your church’s website is currently at and discover areas where it could be improved, reach out to Missional Marketing for a free audit and consultation. Give us a call at 480-420-2007 or head over to our Contact Us page for more ways to get in touch with us. We are excited to hear from you and watch your church grow!