Why do I need a website?
- Everyone Googles, very few people look for information in the telephone directory anymore
- People lose newsletters or miss announcements, a website is always available to check what time Sunday’s service is
- People moving into a new area will often use the internet to find churches to try, if you’re not there, they probably wont try you
- A website provides access to 1000s o potential members at an affordable rate.
More Harm than Good
Putting the benefits aside for a minute, there are situations where having a website is detrimental to your church:
- Your website is out of date, this gives the impression that nothing happens at your church and can put people off before they visit
- Your website is very slow to load or is hard to use, people make very quick decisions and easily go elsewhere online, there’s no point putting time and money into a website if people can’t use it
- You’re website doesn’t have a consistant design and uses lots of different colours and fonts, this again makes it difficult for people to access information on your website or gives off the wrong impression about been amateurish, again pushing people elsewhere. Remember plain and simple can often be the best strategy and content is king.
I have seen very successful church websites and very unsuccessful church websites over the years. Just because you have five web designers in your church doesn’t mean you’ll have a great website. I’ve built websites for churches I’ve been a member of, but after a full week of building websites, working on the church website may not be so appealing on Saturday afternoon when I could enjoy a day out with my wife or help with another church project. Nick wrote a posts about the true cost of free web design and many of these issues are relevant in this situation.
A lot of church websites built by a member pro bono fall down at being up to date as I’ve found, information can be hard to get out of people and it can be tedious just copying the weekly newsletter when no one else seems to care about the website.
I’ve also work with church websites where the content is updated nearly as often as the BBC which is fantastic, but this content is erratically organised and has no particular design so is almost impossible to navigate. It saddens me to see someone so enthusiastically giving hours to the church with very little benefit for anyone. Like many roles in todays church, a person who means well and is enthusiastic may not be the best person for the job. I would highly recommend completing a skills audit of your congregation and looking out for people with hidden talents or those too nervous to step forward. It’s just as important that the person updating the website knows what their doing as the person sat behind the PA desk on Sunday morning. Training sessions can be a great way to build teams, give members valuable skills and spot potential talent.
Wrapping it Up
In conclusion, I would like every church to have a website and I’d like them all to be reasonable high quality. I know this may be a big ask, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth and I have seen great rewards from church websites, one church I was a member of was seeing a new member a week join as a result of finding us on our website and liking what they saw.
A few good pointers:
- Keep it up to date, no one cares what time last years Christmas Service started
- Keep it consistent, it needs to be easy to navigate and easy to read
- Don’t expect a member to just do it for free because they work in IT
- Ask people what they think, it doesn’t matter what you think or what your IT guru thinks, your communicating with your members and the public so if it doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t work!