Here at Qgiv, we love talking about donation forms, fundraising, and everything in between. But sometimes, we like to add a fresh voice to the conversation. We reached out to Angela at Church Dev for her thoughts on designing a church website that reaches people. Enjoy!
In an era when people spend much of their time online, developing an effective website is a necessary component of any church outreach program. No matter how people first learn of a church, they’re likely to visit a website before they attend a Sunday service.
Here’s how your church can develop a visitor-friendly site that will help reach visitors in the nearby community.
1. Use a Memorable Domain Name
The domain name that your church’s website is located at should be simple and short. A good domain name will be both memorable and easy to type — even when using a smartphone’s or tablet’s cumbersome touchscreen keyboard.
Once you’ve come up with a domain name that will work, look at it a second time to make sure the name can’t be misconstrued in an embarrassing way. You could even consider having one or two other people confirm your choice.
2. Hire a Web Designer
Since many people will check out your church’s website before they attend services or an event at your church, their first impressions will largely be formed by your church’s website. The site, therefore, should look as good as possible.
Even if your church has a tight budget, consider hiring a web designer who will create a professional-looking site. While there are do-it-yourself tools that let you create a website for free, an experienced web designer will create a much nicer site–and they’ll do it in a fraction of the time it would take an inexperienced person to do.
3. Keep Essential Information Central
People who haven’t attended your church before will have some initial questions, which your church’s website should clearly and concisely answer.
Depending on their personal needs and interests, they may want to know the following:
- Where your church is located.
- What times services are held.
- Whether childcare is available.
- The denomination of your church.
Basic information like this should be readily available on your church website. If it’s not mentioned on the homepage, then the site should have a page designed for first-time visitors that is easy to find.
Additionally, the page on which you post this information shouldn’t be clouded with other, less pertinent details. People should be able to scan the page and find the answers to their basic questions in just a few seconds. If they have additional questions after these initial ones are answered, they can navigate to the appropriate page.
4. Showcase Your Church’s Ministries
Once their basic questions are answered, visitors often will next want to know what ministries your church has. A list of ministries doesn’t need to be as central as the above list of information, but it should be readily accessible.
The best way to list your church’s ministries will depend on the size of your church.
A small church with only a handful of official ministries may be able to fit them all on a single page.
A large church with many ministries run by paid staff members or pastors should give each ministry its own page, or perhaps even several pages.
A medium-sized church might be able to list all ministries on one page and link to separate pages that highlight the largest ministries in the church.
No matter how your church showcases its ministries, a way to contact each ministry leader should be included with every listing. Visitors might not have a need to contact a ministry leader before they come to your church, but they might want to learn more about a specific ministry after coming once or twice on a Sunday morning.
If leaders don’t want their email addresses listed on the church website, you can create a contact form that has a drop-down menu of your church’s ministries and will forward the message to the appropriate person.
5. Mention Your Church’s Pastor
Somewhere on your site, visitors should be able to find out who your church’s pastor or priest is. You may want to include a short bio about the past, a welcome from the pastor, or their listing in a directory.
If your church has more than one pastor, the senior pastor should be highlighted, and then any other ordained ministers listed.
6. Let Visitors Give Online
Including an online giving feature might seem irrelevant to attracting visitors to your church, as most people who give to churches are regularly attending members. A tasteful online giving feature, however, is important to online outreach for two reasons.
First, it gives your church an opportunity to show visitors how the church is making a difference in the local community and world, as it provides an opportunity to include updates on what offerings are used for. For example, if your church supports a local charity, you can mention that a portion of offerings is directed to that charity.
Second, many churches run events that have nominal registration fees, such as conferences and concerts, and these events appeal to both members and non-members. Having an online giving feature that includes the ability to set up paid even registrations will make it easier for non-members to register for events your church is hosting.
As your church endeavors to reach out to the surrounding community, make sure your church’s website is part of the outreach efforts. A well-designed website will create a great first impression and give first-time visitors the information they’re looking for. It will be the first welcome to your church, and hopefully lead to Sunday-morning greetings from members in your congregation.
Angela is a project manager at ChurchDev.com, a church website design firm. ChurchDev works with churches of all sizes to create professional church websites that are beautiful and easy to manage. In her free time, you’ll find her spending time with family and friends, reading, or enjoying music.