Most of the focus of our Church Marketing Online University articles to this point has been on things you can do to bring people who are looking for a church to your church website. But once a person comes to your church website for the first time, what happens next? Do they quickly click away in horror? Or does the design of your website make them feel welcome to look around and possibly attend a church service?
In this article we look at 10 church website design tips – 10 things the design of your church website should have to make a person’s experience on your website a good one.
1) A clean design – Just as you tidy up before inviting people into your home, your church website should have a clean look to it as well. You don’t have to wow people or have the best church site on the web. Just make sure your site has good balance of text, graphics and white space, a pleasing combination of colors, doesn’t look cluttered. It tells the visitor you care about your guests.
2) A site that looks good in the most popular browsers – A website can look great in one web browser but have problems in another. So, testing a site in multiple web browsers is important. Currently, that means testing a site in Internet Explorer 6 and 7 as well as Firefox 2.0. New browsers and new versions of browsers are introduced periodically and usage changes, so be sure to check the latest browser usage statistics. There are tools like BrowserShots which will show you what a site looks like several different web browsers.
3) Images of people – Visitors need to see that you care about them. Featuring images of people on your website gives visitors the sense that at your church people matter more than programs, buildings, and theology.
4) People like them – A visitor also wants to know that there are people like them at your church, so including images of people of all ethnicities, ages, and classes is important.
5) Pictures of what they’ll experience – After a visitor knows you care about people and knows they’re welcome, the next thing people want to know is what to expect if they attend a service. These items are not necessarily for the homepage, but it is a good idea to have a picture of the outside of the church, the inside of the sanctuary/auditorium, children’s and youth areas – all with people during an actual service. Video is even better.
6) Intuitive navigation – A visitor needs to be able to find the information they’re looking for without having to think. This means the navigation menu should be in the same place on every page. It shouldn’t be too long (no more than 10 items). If using slide-out or drop-down sub-menus, menu items should be grouped into sub-menus that make sense. The menu text should be understandable and not use insider language (for example “high school ministry” is good, “High Tide” would not be helpful to visitors)
7) A clearly marked “About” or “Before you visit” section – A visitor wants to find visitor information about visiting your church quickly and easily. Make an “About” or “Before you visit” section the first item in your navigation menu and put a big graphic linking to it somewhere on your homepage.
8 ) Simple, contrasting background – People need to be able to read your website without straining. There’s nothing that drives me away from a website faster than a page that is hard to read because the designer has used an image for the background or chosen a poor background/foreground color combination.
9) Professional Text Formatting – Another factor in making your site easy to read is the way text is formatted. Keep your paragraphs short, use bold section headings, make liberal use of bullet-points and numbering where appropriate, and use the same font style, color, and size throughout your website.
10) Short pages – Visitors will typically not spend more than a minute on a single page. Keep your pages short. If a page goes longer than 3 screens in a web browser, it’s usually a good idea to break it into multiple pages.
Have you got any church website design tips?
Next week we’ll talk about the things church website visitors need to know, the content every church website should provide for its visitors.