7 Crimes Your Church Is Committing On The Internet
By: Vanderbloemen June 30, 2015
Websites are – or should be – experiences. They take traditional church branding media like signs and videos to a much larger audience. Furthermore, they offer truly unique ways to tell your story as a church. But many churches still look at websites in a traditional way, and because of that traditional view, they’re repelling website visitors.
Though I am a designer, this article is not heavy on design lingo or the lofty design principles that did (or didn’t) go into your website, but rather, I want to point out easy ways to modify your website in order to effectively reverse the repelling effect.
So, what website “crimes” are you currently perpetrating on the World Wide Web? I’m glad you asked.
1. You’re trying to do too much with your home page.
A homepage should succinctly capture the spirit and character of your church and provide a path to get to know you better. It then should prompt visitors toward simple actions like signing up for a church newsletter or finding a small group. Many of the websites I see have a link to every page on the entire site like a coupon circular. Clean up the clutter, and you’ll give your homepage some horsepower.
2. You’re not doing enough with your home page.
The reverse of too much clutter (and a “cybercrime” I see just as frequently) is a homepage bereft of anything meaningful. Usually this webpage will be just a bunch of negative space (usually gray) with a logo in the middle of it. I’m not sure what the reason for this design choice is, but I will say that having a church homepage like this looks unfinished. It immediately communicates that something is missing. Visitors to your website don’t learn anything about your church and have to aimlessly search for the information they want if they haven’t already left your website. This is not the message you want to send to prospective church members.
3. Your use of stock photography is egregious.
There is nothing wrong with stock photography. It can be a great tool to communicate meaning, tone, culture, and character. But, when it’s obvious that all the pictures on your website are stock, it’s too much. And, let’s face it, some stock photos are pretty cheesy. What may seem polished can actually come across as uninspired and airbrushed. We are a created people imbued with the same power to create! Go take some pictures of the wonderful people on your staff and attending your church.
4. Your header needs an overhaul.
A key to navigating any website is the header. Many of the church websites I see have headers that are twenty items long or have side headers with dropdown menus that provide navigation to every page on the site. As I mentioned above, less is more. Provide obvious links to the integral pages of your website as well as your logo (which should link back to your home page). Also, give your pages names that are intuitive. It’s hard for people to guess that your “About Us” page is called “Spirit.”
5. Your footer needs some help, too.
If you’ve read some of our other articles on church websites, then you’ve seen that some huge oversights are 1) not having an obvious place to send a direct e-mail and 2) your address. The footer is a great place to put this information. Maybe add a phone number and a place to sign up for your newsletter, and you’ve got a great, informative footer.
6. You make it confusing to give.
If your church have the option to take tithes and offerings electronically, make it easy to find and easy to give. If people have to jump through hoops to give, they’ll probably give up before they get that far. Put the link to your clear “Giving” page in the website header.
7. Website visitors don’t know how to get connected.
Beyond the Sunday gathering, one of the best metrics for church health and congregational involvement is small group involvement. Make this easy for users to do, and you’ll bless your ministry with a steady stream of new members. As a church website visitor interested in attending a small group, I want to know when the groups meet, where they meet, and how I can contact and be a part of them. I’d also put any volunteering opportunities or mission opportunities on your “Connect” page.
In parting, the advice I would offer all reading this article and concerned with their church website is to tell your story, and tell it simply. The goal of your website should be to make it easy for your members and website visitors to interact with you. Avoiding these church website “crimes” is a great way to streamline this part of your ministry. If you need help finding a great Web Designer or IT Director for your church staff, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We'd be honored to serve you.
What other common mistakes do you see on church websites?
If you liked this, then you’ll also like The Top 10 Essentials For Your Church Website.