Recently I was asked for recommendations for remodeling a church’s website. In response I wrote a too-long email, but a just-right blog post. So I thought I’d share it here. A tiny bit of this is pretty technical, but even a novice will find some tips to help tighten up their site. (BTW, we do review sites and make recommendations. Get in touch and we’ll get you more information.)
- I strongly recommend using WordPress as your content management system (the platform you build your site on).
- I really like the Evolve theme right now. It’s responsive (mobile friendly – but use graphics with sizes based on width percentages or EM, not pixels, for example, style=”width:33%;”) and it’s free.
- Remember, the site is not for your members. It’s a marketing and ministry tool. Nothing more, nothing less. Every word and image should communicate to non-members and the unchurched who you are, what you offer, and why their lives would be changed by showing up.
- Here is the most basic site map:
- “Home” Page – Be sure to include the three basics:
- Images of people, not your church building. Potential visitors want to know if they’ll be a “fit” in your church: “Do people look like me?” Show them; don’t tell them.
- Service days and times. This should be above the scroll on a typical desktop, and not in a sidebar for mobile (where it will be buried deep in the page)
- Address. This should NOT be embedded in a graphic, and it too should be above the scroll … but put it in your footer as well.
- “New Here?” Page – This can be instead of the “About Us” page or in addition to it. It makes little difference. On this page you’ll tell prospective guests what to expect. Dress style, nursery availability, formality of the service (coffee in the worship center!), style of worship, childcare, etc.There should be lots of images, and writing should be in bullet points with lots of white space. Links should go to staff (not your custodian, or clerk of session, etc.), ministry opportunities, your calendar, sermon podcasts, etc.Don’t link your newsletters unless they’re written with the non-member in mind.
Note: No one cares about your denomination affiliation anymore (a mention is fine; an explanation is not). No one cares about your beliefs. No one cares about your mission, your values, or your vision unless you have an inspiring motto/vision. If you want to include all this, bury it in an “About Us” page.
- “About Us” Page. This is more detailed and can include more of the denominational patter, etc. Be sure to include images of people, the ministry staff, etc.
- “Calendar” Page. I’m not a calendar fan: they tend to be too small to read, and they lack details. Instead, think like a movie theater and create “ads” and “trailers” for upcoming events.
- “Blog” Page. In today’s market, search engine optimization (SEO) is critical – where you’re found if someone Googles the word “church” and the name of their town. If you’re not in the first ten, you won’t exist for most potential visitors. You can pay a lot of money to get highly ranked (not a bad investment, IMO) or you can depend on lots of great content that uses keywords. A well written, well maintained blog can do this. Just remember to include the name of your church and the town in most posts … but put them into full sentences that make sense – Google’s algorithm is smarter than that.
- After that, most other pages are irrelevant in terms of importance. Put what you need or want. Make sure they’re sprinkled with key words, and aren’t filled with Christianese or members only stuff (unless you create a “Members Only” page – then put whatever you want, but be sure it’s behind a firewall that only members can get by).
Question: What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.