What's up guys! It’s Bobby King with Hashtag Church.
We know in the church world that one of the most important pieces of getting out there, of marketing, of being in front of your congregation and your community is your website. Which is why, it's one of the most important things that you have right for your church. We wanted to keep it simple and give you five tips that can help you and your church have a better experience with your website:
1) You actually need to look at your website.
I know that may sound crazy. It's also possibly been a while since you've looked at your site. So, I know some of you have integrated event pages and things like that where you're only updating the events or it's automatically updating your pictures from your Instagram or all of these different things.
However, for those of you who have not looked at your website in a while, put your eyeballs on your site. It's going to give you a fresh look at what your church is doing.Apply your same mindset that you're looking at your church's website with how these other companies, churches and these other organizations have their websites built.
2) Remove sliders.
Remove sliders and large video files or large photo files from your site. Google blatantly came out and said they will give you an SEO (search engine optimization) ding, if you have a slider on your site. They know a slider is outdated in design for websites, but also it's very heavy in regards to file size. Putting multiple large photos on the very first page of your website can slow down your website speed. There are certain criteria of where you need to fall into to have your websites rank higher, which is based on how fast your site loads.
If your site loads fast, you're going to rank higher. If your site loads slow, you're going to rank lower. That's why sliders are a big no-no.
You only have a few seconds to catch people's attention. The average view duration of a website period is under 10 seconds. If half of that is being used by your site loading, you've already lost that person.
3) Have a non-church member look at your site.
I recommend having a non-Christian friend of yours look at your site. There's a few reasons for this. One, as a church person, you get caught up in all the church language. You get caught up in all the ways that you navigate normal church websites.
I know if I go to an about page on a church's dropdown menu, most likely I'm gonna find their staff page. I'm gonna find their mission vision. Well. . If someone doesn't have a church background, they may go to about and expect a story about your church or a story about your pastors. Some of y'all may have that as well.
If you’re someone that's worked in the church world, possibly for a while, it’s easy to overlook the things around you. Have a non-church member, or non-Christian person, look at your site and navigate it.
Where do they have hang-ups? Where do they have questions? What makes sense, what doesn't make sense? Are you using what we call christianese, where it's confusing to someone that hasn’t experienced that language before?
People coming to your website are potentially new people to your city or new Christians, and they're looking for a church home. You have to angle and focus your website towards those people. So ideally, get a non-church member and ideally a non-Christian to look at your website, navigate all the pages, ask their opinions, give them, give them a rubric sheet to grade you on some of these things, and that will really help your experience for your website.
4) Use your own personal churches, photos and videos.
If you have a picture of kids hugging, playing on a playground, have it be kids in your kids' ministry.
If there's a picture of somebody praying and talking about your praying service, have it be someone that’s in your prayer service.
If it's an adult ministry and it’s a guy waving at a camp or a retreat, have that be someone that's in your church ministry and in your adult ministry.
These things make a huge, huge difference in regards to a visitor or a guest looking at your site because a lot of the time, We will see the same type of stock images used over and over and over again. Especially in the church world, we are really good at going to Unsplash and going to Pexels and typing in prayer, typing in worship, and using the first options that look cool that come up.
With that, if you do have to use stock images, use it for a new event. Let's say it's something that you are trying to put on for the very first time and you don't have any images for it.
5) Create clear paths to what you want the viewer to go to.
If you want people to plan their next visit coming to your church, have a “plan your visit” button. If you want people to come to an event have a direct link there on the homepage to your events.
You can even have a banner come down on the top saying sign up for this Wednesday night gathering. Things of that nature are going to help take out mistakes, getting viewed and seen, but even the least path of resistance is the most effective form to get people to do what you actually want them to do on your website.
If you want to give them information or to go somewhere, make it the most direct path possible.
If it's something that is static, like a plane or visit or an events page, make sure that you have those up on your top menu. Don't overload your menu. Don't have 15 things up there on your menu. Really think about and strategically plan what all goes up there.
With these five steps, we think you can drastically improve your website and your performance with the viewers of your website. So if you have any questions, we would love to answer them here at Hashtag Church. You can email us, you can DM us, you can send us a message by Carrier Pigeon. However you want to reach out to us, you can, and we would love to get back to you and help you navigate through this digital area.