In the 7 things a bad church website has in common with a bad eHarmony profile post I wrote two weeks ago, one of the things I touched on was the importance of making it easy for users to discover if their beliefs matched your church’s beliefs. Offering a “Visitors” section on your website was one suggestion I made, and I’d like to go into that idea in more detail.
For many of us, viewing a church website through the eyes of someone who is looking for a new church home (or who is unsaved, or new to the area, etc.) can be difficult. We look at things through our point of view…through our own lens…through our paradigm. And since many who are tasked with building or redesigning a church website are heavily involved in said church, it’s hard not to design a church website with existing congregation primarily in mind.
Designing your church’s website in such a way isn’t a bad thing, so please do not misunderstand. However, the reality is when something is an afterthought, its needs are rarely, if ever, properly met.
The good news is meeting the needs of visitors to your church website isn’t difficult. There are two general points to follow:
- Make it easy to find.
- Make it detailed.
Make it easy to find
It should be an obvious tip, but it’s an important one. If a visitor has to hunt for applicable information on your website, most of the time they are going to leave your website without having found said applicable information. How do you avoid this? By putting your visitor information front and center. Here are a few examples:
Harvest Bible Chapel offers a navigation link stating “I’m New” right next to their logo.
Eagle Mountain International Church asks the user if they are “New Here?” directly beneath their logo.
And Lake Wildwood Baptist Church offers a “Visitor Info” link that’s listed before all other navigation links. And, again, it’s right next to their logo.
What do these sites have in common? One, they place the links to their visitor pages in a featured area near their website’s logo. And two, the verbiage for the link is clear and specific. “Visitor Info”, “New Here?” and “I’m New” are all easy to understand.
Need a good reason for giving your visitor section priority on your website? Your existing church members will be infinitely more patient navigating your website. Visitors? You have only a few seconds before losing them.
Make it detailed
A visitor section that is easy to find won’t help anyone if it’s light on information. What information should it contain? Different churches will have different information visitors may find useful, but the following list will be a good base.
1. What you believe. A visitor will want to know if what they believe matches with what your church believes. A clearly marked “What we believe” or “Statement of Faith” article or page will make it infinitely easier for your visitors to find out if their beliefs match your own.
2. Map and directions. Some of your website visitors may know exactly where your church is located. Maybe they drive by it every day on their way to work? Maybe they have a friend or family member who is a member? You can’t count on this. And you shouldn’t count on visitors knowing how to copy your mailing address and pasting it into Google Maps. Many will not need your help finding your church. However, many will. And you should work under the assumption everyone will need help.
3. Photo of your church. This will likely be handled on your homepage, logo, or some other page on your website. But if it isn’t, make sure visitors know what your church looks like. The aforementioned “Maps and directions” section would be a great place to have it.
4. Your pastor. Who is your pastor? What does he look like? What is his preaching style? Does he write a blog? Are any of his sermons available for me to listen to online? A website visitor who feels as though they have a good read on your church’s pastor is far more likely to want to visit your church in person and hear him preach.
5. Service times. This should be obvious, but you would be surprised how many times I had to hunt for this information on church websites I’ve visited. Even if you display service times elsewhere on your website (be it on your homepage or in the footer of every page), include it in your visitor section. Make it easy for a visitor to find.
6. Children. Does your church offer a nursery? What about families with children too old for nursery, but still too young to properly behave in “big church”? Do you have a Sunday School program? Families will want to know this information.
Wrapping it up
There’s more information you can add to your visitor section, but this is a good foundation. Information on your music ministry, youth programs, what a typical worship is service is like, and where your church can be found on social media sites like Facebook are all items you could add.
The key takeaway is your visitors shouldn’t be an afterthought on your church’s website.
They should be a priority.Sign up for free email updates: