The number one mistake when it comes to websites is, of course, not having one. But there are common pitfalls churches can fall into when it comes to how they design and manage their own website:
1. One-Man Show
Many churches find it hard to recruit volunteers for their various ministries. In fact, about 70 percent of leaders admit that this is challenging or often impossible.
So it’s tempting to focus on staffing the more visible ministries, such as the worship team or teachers for children’s programs, instead of making sure there is a strong team to manage the church website. As a result, the website rarely gets updated. It can end up looking like the forgotten corner of a hall closet, full of disorganized and useless “stuff” that will turn people off. What’s worse is having incorrect information that will confuse and frustrate visitors.
Create a team of people who shares different aspects of creating content and updating the church website. One person can be in charge of posting announcements and news. Another can post weekly sermons online. Different ministries can also be involved by posting regular updates or blog posts about their group’s activities. This team approach will not only lighten the load for everyone but will also create a greater sense of community among members.
2. Underused and Falling Short of Full Potential
Many churches treat their website as an upgraded church sign. They use it to post their address and worship service times. Maybe a mission statement. Or a short introduction to their staff.
But a website can be so much more. After COVID-19, many leaders are focusing on ways to increase online engagement for both members and newcomers. A recent article on Vox explains that “out of a fear that many congregants may ditch services for good — and with no end to Covid-19 in sight — many religious leaders have effectively turned into online content creators”. They have, in essence, become producers! And what’s the best way to share all this content? Many are finding that their website is no longer used as just a way to direct people to the physical weekly church service, but is now used as a central hub for all this newly created content. People go there to find the link to the latest sermon via YouTube, information on how to join a Zoom Bible Study, and a Facebook Live prayer group. While on the website, they are reminded to give online to help the church continue its important ministry. All this activity will naturally increase a sense of community and belonging.
3. Confined to the Desktop
Does your website look “funny” on mobile devices? That’s because it’s not web responsive. Unfortunately, that is a costly mistake. One statistic notes that about 52% of all global web traffic (in the last quarter of 2017) came from mobile devices. With a web responsive design, your website will automatically adjust to look good on any size screen—from large computer screens to tiny mobile phones. It may not seem like a big deal, but it comes with surprising advantages.
It will increase mobile traffic and attract a wider audience who can access your website in a variety of settings, using a variety of devices. Also, your website will load quicker. If it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 53% of people will leave your site.
Since there are no distortions, people don’t have to manually go in and resize everything in order to see your content. The user experience will be better. In fact, 79% of people are more likely to revisit and/or share a mobile site if it is easy to use.
Finally, whether we like it or not, we know it’s better to have Google work to our advantage. That means understanding how SEO (search engine optimization) decides which sites get organic traffic from the search engine results page. To make sure your website ranks higher, there are certain changes you can make, including using web responsive design. Google now favours these responsive websites so they appear higher on search engine results, making it more likely that people will visit you.
4. Using a Thousand Words instead of a Picture
Images on a website draw people in and help them remember content better than just words alone. Online content that contains images gets 94% more views than pages without. Not only do they get more views, but people will stay on the site longer, making it a positive user engagement signal for Google to rank your site higher.
Images can also evoke an emotion or response and communicate complex ideas in a split second. Place high-quality images that relate to the text above the fold. Ideally, they should be original pictures. However, you can also use free photos from Unsplash and Pexels to round out your gallery.
5. Not Colour Smart
For over 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has informed choices made by many industries, including fashion and graphic design. For 2021, Their colour experts have chosen PANTONE 17-5104 + PANTONE 13-0647, a pairing of ultimate gray and illuminating yellow. Although your church website should look fresh, it’s not necessary to change the color palette each year to match Pantone’s choices, especially their infamous selection of 2012 dubbed the “ugliest color of the world”.
Instead, it is a good idea to have the website’s color palette and church logo/brand colours work harmoniously together. Another good rule of thumb is to use whitespace well. It can draw the eye to focus on what’s important as well as provide breaks between content to make it scannable and easier to read. Whitespace gives your site a clean, clutter-free look that is appealing and will stand the test of time.
If you feel a little daunted by all the common pitfalls churches may fall into when it comes to websites, then it may be time to ask for some help. Sunergo has beautiful framework designs that are web responsive and easy for anyone on your team to update. Use their many features—a calendar of events, podcast feed, blog posting, social media links, event registration, and more—to create a central hub for your community. Our designers can help you coordinate the site to your logo/brand colours. Contact us for more information.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and reflects the opinion of the author. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on as professional advice. You should consult appropriate professionals for your specific situation.