Thursday, July 14, 2016

Eight Mistakes Churches Make on Their Websites

By Jonathan Howe

Your church’s website acts as the front door of your church. It’s likely the first place a guest will look for information about your church. I’ve written in the past about what is essential for effective church websites, but today I turn my attention to what churches often lack on their website.
Here are eight mistakes churches make with their websites:
  1. Not having the service times and address near the top of the home page.These are the two most important components of your church’s website. People need to know when to show up and where to go if they want to visit your church. This information should be some of the most obvious information on your home page and some of the most repeated information throughout the site.
  2. Not having pictures of the church staff or leadership. This may be more of a personal preference than the other items in this list. But when I show up somewhere new, I like to know who I’m looking for and what to expect. A simple staff directory with contact information and pictures goes a long way in helping visitors feel more comfortable—especially if they have kids. Which leads me to…
  3. Failing to give parents information about the children’s ministry or student ministry. Parents, especially those with small children, want to have as much information as possible about who will be caring for their children. The more information you give parents on your website, the more they will trust your church and the volunteers caring for their kids.
  4. Having outdated information on the site. If your July 4th information is still prominently displayed on your church’s website, you need to fix that immediately. If your Christmas Eve service details are still on the homepage, you need a new webmaster. Potential guests want to know what’s coming up at your church, not what you did a few months ago.
  5. Using poor graphics or copyrighted images. If your church is still using clip art or pictures from a standard Google image search, stop it. Sites likepexels.com and istockphoto.com provide high-quality images for either no cost or a low cost that will be both attractive and legal.
  6. Being unclear about beliefs or doctrine. If someone is new to church, they may not understand all the differences in doctrine from church to church. However, a new resident to the community who was deeply involved in a church in their previous town might be quite adamant about visiting churches with similar doctrine and beliefs. Be clear about your church’s doctrine on your website. Doing such displays honesty regarding beliefs and benefits those interested in visiting your church.
  7. Making online giving difficult. In our podcast with Rich Birch, he mentioned the difficulty he had when making online donations and offerings to some churches. When you setup your online giving to be both simple and fast, you lower the barriers to those interested in giving online.
  8. Hiding your contact information. It may not actually be hidden, but it may be difficult to find. You obviously cannot put all the information about your church online, so it’s quite likely that people will have questions. Make it easy for guests (or members) to contact your church.
When used correctly, a church website can be an indispensable tool for churches. When information on your website is missing or difficult to find, your church suffers.
Are you making any of these mistakes on your church’s website? What would you add to this list?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of LifeWayPastors.com. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.