IX Marks of a Good Church Website
*Other than being a fan, I am in no way affiliated with IX Marks Ministries.
Moving to Wilkesboro, we are in the midst of our first ever church hunt. Searching for a church has further emphasized for me the importance of having a good website.
Below are nine marks/characteristics of a healthy/helpful church website (SWIDT?). These marks are observations made by people who have experienced the best and worst of church websites.
I) Good Design
Today, your website functions as the front door and lobby of your church. People have already visited your church long before they entered your building. If a visitor’s first impression of your sanctuary matters at all, then so should their impression of your website:
Click for samples of James Flectcher's work.
A well designed church website is:
- Simple, not flashy, with colors that can be appreciated by all.
- Inviting, does not make you want to click away
- Crisp, new, like fresh paint
- Modern, does not harken back to the mid 90’s AOL Browser
II) User Friendly Layout
Most churches consider first time visitors when they design the layout of their lobbies. What should visitors see first? Who will greet them? How will they know where to find the sanctuary, nursery, and restrooms?
Your church’s website should direct visitors to the most important thing. From the most important thing, it should be easy for visitors to navigate to the information they need.
III) Good Information
If your church building has a sign, what does it communicate? Besides a pithy saying, church signs include: the church's name/denomination, services and Sunday school times, and the pastor’s name. If your church has a website, I will not visit long if I cannot easily find your service times, location, and pastor’s name/credentials.
According to Hubspot, over half of the visitors to your website will spend 15 seconds or less interacting with your content. You have 15 seconds to either, a) communicate everything you want to say, or b) compel visitors to stay for another 15 seconds. What do you want to communicate your 15 seconds? If your church has a website, make sure it answers these questions quickly:
- What is the most important thing?
- What time are your services?
- Where do you meet?
- Who is preaching? Why should I believe he is qualified?
- Who else is on staff? Why should I believe they are qualified?
- What does your church believe?
- With whom are you affiliated?
- What is your service like?
IV) Accessible Doctrinal Statements/Distincitves
What do you believe, and what distinguishes your church from the one that meets across the street? Do you have a vision for the community? Are your pastors and elders formally trained? From where?
I am not likely to visit if I cannot discern what you believe.
V) Sample Sermons
Even if it is not feasible to record live sermons, post a few sermon manuscripts. This will a) help fill out your blog page, b) let visitors know whether your style is expository, topical, or something else.
VI) Regularly Updated Blog
A regularly updated blog is a great resource church members and visitors; however, I visited several church websites where the last blog post was 2014. It reminds me of that room in the lower level of the church that houses flimsy VBS props from ten years ago—no one is going down there, and it is better off to just throw that stuff away. You certainly would not direct your visitors through that room.
If you are not updating your blog page, it is best to deactivate it.
VII) Real Photos
You would not hire actors to describe your youth group’s mission trip to Guatemala. If you are going to post photos on your website, please do not use stock photography. Visitors want to see you, not paid actors.
VII) Good Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are all great means by which to update members and visitors about the life of your church. However, like a blog, some social media pages look like they are managed by your Easter/Christmas only members.
If social media exists as a way for a person to keep their community updated about his life, an inactive Facebook page communicates to your community that your church is dead. In that case, it would be better to not have Facebook page at all.
IX) Real Means of Communication
Why shouldn’t website visitors have the opportunity to contact the pastoral staff? They would certainly be afforded this opportunity if they visited in person.
Bonus: Buy Your Domain
If your church's URL is looks like: www.yourchurch.blogsite.com/freewebsites, I'm not going to take you very seriously. Consider adding the costs of hosting your church's website to your missions budget. Otherwise, it is legitimate to have just a Facebook page in lieu of the website.
This is, of course, my opinion. Feel free to disagree in the comments, but keep it civil. Better yet, what do you want to see in a church's website?