As a church-dedicated marketing firm, we’re often asked about what exactly it takes to build an impactful church website. Over the years of building successful church websites, here’s what we’ve found…
After thousands of meetings with our agency clients, we have unique insight regarding the most critical website components to engage online visitors. A church website should be designed as an on-ramp, leading each user to Jesus by motivating an in-person visit to the church, and analyzing the behaviors of website users can provide direction for improving website design.
Not only can we measure the volume of traffic visiting a church website, but we can also define how each person came to land there and track other informative details about the engagement of new visitors and overall user behavior. Unsurprisingly, the volume of new visitors is one of the most important metrics in understanding the growth of your church, since new in-person visitors will almost always check out a church website before showing up on Sunday.
In interpreting the data from countless church websites, we’ve found that there are 4 absolutely critical components to engage new visitors specifically, all stemming from the home page. The goal is to create a place where visitors are eager to connect, engage, and participate – first online, and then in the ministries and mission of your church.
Here are the top 4 most important features to consider when building or designing an effective church website:
#1: An Engaging Home Page for New Visitors
In order to serve its purpose, a church home web page should:
- Be designed with Unchurched & Churchless new visitors in mind
- Target the Unchurched & Churchless users who don’t know the church or its ministries, but who are searching for a church, ministry, or answers
- Be designed for the spiritual seeker – a user who may not be a believer but is seeking to discover
#2: A Clear Benefit Statement
Generally speaking, people do not participate in something unless they see a clear and compelling reason to do so. Your church Home Page should include a Benefit Statement which explains to the user why engaging with your church will serve them.
Your church Benefit Statement should be:
- Clear, concise, and compelling – a statement that is designed for the Unchurched and Churchless new user
- Personal to your church while providing the visitor with an opportunity to connect, engage, & participate
- Articulate in what benefit awaits them upon attending your church
Here is an example of an effective benefit statement:
“We’re a community that’s committed to helping people live their best life.”
The statement is clear, personal, and compelling to an Unchurched or Churchless new user. It articulates to the user what benefit awaits them upon attending your church.
#3: A Plan a Visit Button
Since the overall objective is to attend your church, it’s necessary to have a functionality that prompts that action. A Plan a Visit button does just that. Your Plan a Visit button should:
- Be located above the fold (on the part of the page that’s visible, without any scrolling)
- Take the user to a page that sets the expectations for their visit with details related to:
- Driving directions
- Music (Is it loud? Is it somber? Are there drums?)
- What to do with their kids
- What goes on in service
Remember – people like to know what to expect. And who can blame them? There are a lot of different kinds of people and gatherings in the world. How are they to know who and what we’re all about unless we tell them? The less ‘lost’ the New Visitor feels upon their visit, the better!
#4: A Message / Sermon Button
New Visitors want to get a sense of the culture that they’ll see and experience if they were to attend the church. The online experience allows the user to determine if the messages shared are relevant to them and whether or not they would enjoy listening to the speaker(s) each week.
This button should:
- Be located above the fold
- Take the online user to the Sermon/Messages page
- Motivate the online visitor to attend a service in-person
- The sermons page is similar to a Menu Page at a restaurant allowing the prospective visitor to check out what’s being served before committing their time to visit in-person.
Implementing these 4 crucial design features on your church website will help you get more “cheeks in the seats”, ultimately serving to grow and further the Kingdom of God. If you’re interested in discussing church website development needs, church website migration consulting, or the build of a new church website with our team of experts, don’t hesitate to contact us.