Church Websites and Front Doors: Part 1

Church websites and front doors have the same role. They both serve as the entrance and one of the first impressions of your church. What first impression are you providing? And does your home page on your site look as inviting as your front entrance and church foyer?

Every church website leaves some kind of impression, but home pages and main navigation will make the biggest impact. Here are the top items we recommend to customers contacting us to update or upgrade your website:

  1. Are you on a current design? (If you haven’t done a redesign in the past 2 years, the answer is most certainly “no”.)
  2. Do you have horizontal main (top) navigation or only left side navigation? Horizontal navigation has been the practice for some time. If you’re not there – ask support for help to make this (free!) change today!
  3. How do you want people to feel about your church? Does your home page portray that? Does your home page offer any current and relevant images that evoke the culture and personality of your congregation?
  4. What information do you have for a first time visitor? How many clicks until they find it? How easy is it to read? How organized is it?
  5. Have you addressed questions for every type of visitor in some fashion on your website?

The top items are a mix of website design, navigation (which is part design, part content planning), and content. Providing a positive user experience and a good impression is to organize your information in simple, clean and easy to find layouts. For example, dedicating an entire web page to a map is a poor use of good visual “real estate”. Instead, consider placing a simple address and link to a map on the right side of the page, and use the main content area for other important information.

Now, back to the front door. I’m guessing that your entrance is an area you pay special attention to. Your church makes sure its clean, neat and welcoming. You might even freshen it up with flower pots and seasonal decor. Greeters open or stand near the doorway ready to shake hands and welcome people. It’s an important part of the ministry of your church, right?

How can you take that same approach with your website? It’s your virtual front door, and your website reaches people you have no idea are visiting, seeking, searching. What about developing a practical approach to your virtual front door? Would you be able to recruit volunteers or assign members to care for your home page in a similar fashion as your service greeters?

I would challenge you to think creatively with how such a real approach to your virtual front door could be accomplished. For starters, is there a photographer or two in your congregation, and if yes, would they be willing to serve in shooting pictures for your website? What other roles could volunteers serve in? With Faithwebsites CMS, you can create a volunteer access to the website and give them sections to keep updated.

However you would like to approach the maintenance of your website, we urge you to really consider the impact your site for first impressions. Stay tuned for Part 2, to learn some practical things to consider when thinking about your church content.

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