In the digital age, not having a website can make you look lethargic and noncompetitive! And having a bad one… Well, it can cause a lot of damage too!
It is crucial to ensure that your website not only meets the standard requirements, such as providing a great user experience, relevant information, quality content, etc. but also exceeds expectations and impresses anyone looking you up online. Simply said, your website is the first impression of your church, and you know by experience, that first impressions have a lasting impact!
For a growing church, having a great website can be an incredible communication tool. It can help bring more people to the church, and also act as an extension of your worship services. Not that different from a company website, eh?
To ensure you’ve got the perfect church website, avoid web-design mistakes like hellfire!
9 Mistakes to Avoid When Designing Your Church Website!
Beware of making these cardinal sins while designing your website!
1. Not Having The Church Name On Every Page!
Not all incoming links are going to lead a visitor to your website’s homepage. Having your church’s name on all pages is crucial if you don’t want your visitors to get lost!
2. Important Information Is Difficult To Find!
A church’s basic information, like the location, service times and special events should be visible front and center. Additionally, make navigation easier for the first time visitor. Be sure to include all details related to the children’s ministry for potential visitors.
3. ‘Letting It Slide’ May Not Be A Great Idea!
Slider images are big and can take a lot of time to load. Having a big slider across the homepage inhibits your primary purpose of giving your visitors the information they need. It takes up unnecessary space and hurts the user experience.
Besides, a website slider is a substantial piece of code. Unlike a text box with an image, a slider is a fancy section that can replace its own content with an animated transition. That transition consumes time to load, and your browser has to do it.
Multiple images have to be downloaded along with animated transitions and the controls for navigating the slider. The repeat visitors will already have the big images stored in their browser cache, so will take lesser time for them to load the images on your website. But a new visitor will take time to unlock your web homepage completely as they would have to do them from scratch.
To really check the load time of your slider on the homepage, take a tip and try clearing the cache in your browser and opening your website.
Another reason why sliders are redundant is that they barely serve their purpose — people rarely click on them. You may even perform a check through Google Analytics to see if they are effective, if they are not, go ahead and remove those sliders!
4. Content Focused Only On Members!
37% of Americans looking for a new home will look for information online about churches near them! When it comes to young adults, that number grows to 59%.
Keeping your website content restricted to existing members will lead to the loss of potential visitors. Your site needs to address basic questions a first-time visitor may have — What time are the services? What does a typical service look like? How do I get further involved or connected?
You could either provide this information through an FAQ section or could have a separate landing page for new visitors, with all this basic information!
5. You’ve Got A Desktop Website, But What About Mobile?
The most common mistake you can make is going only for a desktop version of your website and keeping a mobile-friendly website on the back burner.
In 2018 till date, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, which also means that mobile accounts for half of all global web pages served.
That’s literally half of your visitors! So when you think of having a website, think desktop and mobile both.
While we are at it, let’s also discuss the difference between a mobile-friendly website vs. a mobile-responsive website.
A mobile-friendly website makes the entire site fit the screen, so visitors waste their time pinching and zooming. Responsive sites, on the other hand, create a high- quality user experience on all devices.
A computer screen has a completely different shape, size, and aspect ratio than your average phone or tablet, so it’s impossible to create a mobile-friendly website that provides a great user experience on every single type of screen. Responsive websites adjust to the pixel-width of the screen, offering the same level of comfort and preserving the necessary content on every type of screen.
6. Not Having Live Streaming/Uploading Pictures Of Your Services!
A lot of visitors will visit your website first, and then decide to attend the services. Live streaming your worship services can be a great idea (without the advertisements, of course!) Alternatively, you could upload videos and images of your services so that potential visitors know what to expect on Sunday morning!
7. Less Objectivity, More Bias!
Another critical mistake in website development is not paying enough attention to objective analysis, while deciding on various parameters of website design, and instead, taking decisions on personal biases.
It is important to bring enough objectivity to the table and keep emotions or intuitions aside, for what will or will not work for your website.
Google Analytics is an excellent tool to use when it comes to getting an idea of where your users are coming from, their demographics, how the users are navigating your website, etc.
It’s good to take clues from facts and statistics rather than rely on judgments while designing a website.
8. ‘Sudden’ Changes Might Lead To Negative Consequences!
The language that has been on your website for quite long should stay the same, even if you revamp the website. Simple changes such as replacing the word ‘giving’ for a membership portal with the word ‘login’ may confuse regular visitors, leaving them in a frenzy looking for the tab that they are so used to clicking on.
So one needs to be very particular while revamping their website too, to stick to the vocabulary which most of the visitors are used to seeing.
9. A Free Rein Might Lead To Chaos!
Take control of what the visitors can or cannot edit once on your website.
It will let them know that you are the communication expert, and ensure a better user experience overall!
At the end of the day, building and maintaining a church website, or any other website, is a continuous process of learning from your mistakes, and doing better! It’s all about adapting to changes proactively, and creating a lasting impression on your visitors!