Everyone has an opinion about your church’s website. Your pastor has a view, your church members have an opinion, so do your guests, and don’t forget about your staff. They all have an idea about your site and they're likely to voice it.
Those opinions likely don’t line up with each other, either! And if those opinions aren’t enough, there are hundreds of “church marketing experts” that also have a perspective that frequently complicates the situation further.
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This article will not give you all the answers to having a perfect church website, but I do hope that it resolves a few myths that you might hear.
Here are a few myths that I’ve heard about church websites that I’ve managed in the past:
#1. Website visitors know what they’re looking for
“If someone is coming to our website, they already know what they’re looking for.”
While this might be true of many website visitors, this is likely not true of many if not most visitors.
Your website needs to prioritize the first-time visitors and while they might be looking for some basic info about your church, like your location and the time you start, including additional information they might not even be thinking about, such as kids info, dress suggestions, and parking information.
Your website should be intentional in guiding visitors down a path rather than an encyclopedia of information.
Also, never miss a ministry opportunity.
You don’t have to wait until someone visits your physical campus to have a ministry moment with them. Consider adding a live chat feature to your website that allows for personal connection and even possibly a prayer connection before a guest attends your church service.
#2. Everything is important and needs a place on the homepage
“Everything we do is important and it should be prominent on the homepage of our website.”
It's true that everything your church does should be important. But this doesn’t mean that everything important requires homepage real estate or even a primary navigation preference.
Guard your homepage for first-time guests by providing crucial information and developing efficient navigation for users to find the core information they might be looking for with minimal clicks. Remember, not everything needs to be on your church website homepage.
Your members will be willing to take the time to navigate to what they’re looking for, but your guests will move on quickly if they're overwhelmed with information and can’t find the critical information they're looking for to visit one of your services.
#3. Everyone knows your website domain
“Go to our website and get all the information you need.”
It might sound repetitive to list your domain in the bulletin, display it on the sign outside of your building, and have it available on every flyer and brochure, and then repeat it during announcements.
Those that know the domain for your website won’t be annoyed if you repeat it and those that don’t know your domain need to hear it consistently until they do.
#4. Because it’s important, you should pay a lot for it
“The website is the front door for our church, and we should value it enough to invest significantly into it financially.”
Yes, your website is the front door for your church, and yes it's incredibly important. But that doesn’t mean you have to or even should invest a lot of money in building it.
There are many affordable website tools available today, which means you don’t have to break the bank building your church's site. Understanding that development costs might be lower today, the time invested might be more significant and hopefully, you can spend some of that freed up budget on advertising efforts to drive traffic to your more affordable website.
#5. Once your website is built it's done
“Once we finish our new church website we can move on to something else.”
Your church’s website will never be “done.” While it doesn’t always have to change significantly, you should continuously be looking to improve your site.
Related: SEO Basics: 7 Keys to Optimizing Your Church’s Website
Whether that’s prioritizing search functionality or design elements, your website can always get better and should continually be improving.
Over to you
As you navigate all of the opinions you'll continue to hear about your website, I hope busting a few myths is helpful.
Be encouraged that you're not alone and that the voices speaking into church websites are endless and the perfect solution will never be found.
Keep getting better and make the most of your church’s digital front door.
Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Nils Smith. Nils is the Chief Strategist of Social Media and Innovation at Dunham+Company. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.