Why is your church website events calendar important?
This might be obvious to many of you, but this is often one of the most visited pages on any church website.
It's valuable to both your existing church members and also to a newcomer who's trying to find out what's happening in the church. So we see in stats tracking that often one of the first links clicked on is “What's happening at the church?”
For that section of the website to be engaging and easy to understand is very important, because that's one of the first clicks they're making.
We want to make sure that they can easily find the information they're looking for so that they stay on the website and keep surfing around. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of several key questions and possible solutions you will want to consider when designing your online church calendar.
1. Is the format too limiting?
One main problem here is that many event calendars from different platforms are just what you would get out-of-the-box. They are your standard calendar-view which is often not very engaging, too text-based, and easily cluttered when there's too many events or sub-events listed. One of the biggest issues with a lot of event calendars is that they don't show you next month right away. So, if we're in the last week of the month, we're not showing all the things coming up in just a few weeks and are requiring an additional click from our visitor. We want to make sure that our events get promoted because, at the end of the day, event attendance is a huge part of church involvement.
One of the greatest challenges in solving the problem of the events calendar is overcoming the limitations of a website platform. Have they truly taken that need into consideration? And if you're kind of getting some out-of-the-box software, something like a WordPress, they probably haven't solved it that well. Maybe there's a hack you can use to really make it work, but often those things take a little extra work and won’t even get you all the way there. In the ideal situation, you've got a platform that was built with the church-event problem in mind.
Hack: Two Column Events Page
One way we’ve hacked this problem on my church’s website is to have two columns on the events page. One column is for featured events and the other is for weekly events. We wanted to minimize some of those things that happen every single week––Thursday morning prayer, Tuesday afternoon Bible study, etc. That way they are still there and in front of people, but we don't need to promote them a ton. On the featured events column, what we do is we really showcase the major things coming up at the church. That means that even if something's coming up in four or eight weeks, there's a nice big event box for it and we can advertise that. Then there's also the calendar view available to you as well, but that's on a different page. We have kept it because we know some people love that view, but it’s not the one we wanted to showcase front and center. What you really want to look for is a platform that's taken those factors into consideration and accommodated to the church’s need to communicate its events.
2. Can I create repeating events?
When trying to assess if it's the right church website calendar, the first thing to consider is easily whether you have the ability to create repeating events. That will reduce a huge amount of administration of your calendar. There's just so many things that we do each week at a church and so to not have to go in there all the time and keep them updated. As part of your demo process, you will want to look at how easily you can set a repeating event, and if it is intuitive to do?
3. Will past events automatically be removed?
The second thing that I have a huge appreciation for is the ability for an event to come off the website as soon as it's passed. Probably one of the single greatest challenges we've seen with church websites is out of date content, and sometimes that's not even the church's fault. Often times we know that we just haven't gone and updated our website; but sometimes the event happened on a Friday night, and you're not actually back in the office until a Tuesday. That's four days where that event was still on the website and actually looking like the website was out of date. So what we want is a platform that is actually going to remove the event the day after the event passes. That goes a huge way towards keeping your website up to date.
4. Can the website’s calendar sync with other scheduling tools?
It's important to also look for a calendar that's going to sync with Outlook or Google Calendar, since those are really common tools. Maybe it's your church app or desktop calendar, but what we can do is allow people to subscribe to the calendar from anywhere, no matter what tool they're using.
So, just to recap, here are a few things you will want to think about with your church calendar: Does it allows you to feature events? Are you easily able to set repeating events? Does an event automatically come off the calendar when the event passes? And lastly, are your visitors able to easily subscribe to the calendar?
Read the full blog of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/church-website-events-calendar
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly Sites team lead Matt Morrison explains the 4 vital questions to ask when designing your church’s online calendar.
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