Increasingly, those looking for a church begin their search online. Therefore, a congregation’s website must function as a satellite of their church.
Consider every part of the website from the perspective of visitors and the unchurched.
Consider these facts: Eighty to 85 percent of people searching for a church use the internet. For church websites generally, 19 percent of “content views” relate to new visitor information. In other words, this is what one in five persons viewing your website is seeking. On average, however, visitors spend only 90 seconds on the homepage of a church site.
- First impressions count. Use strong contrasting colors and avoid “churchy” graphics. Send a message at once that you are expecting visitors.
- Consider every part of the website from the perspective of visitors and the unchurched. The decision to welcome unchurched persons must be intentional. Avoid “Christianese” or any jargon that only church folks will understand.
- Many websites now include a place that tells potential church visitors what to expect. But especially unchurched persons may be unfamiliar with aspects of church life that you take for granted. So rather than describing a service as “contemporary,” say the service features “guitar and drum music.”
- Pictures of the real people in your congregation and your outreach programs will tell your story with power. Photo captions can help explain to a website visitor what is going on and why. These can be especially important for those unfamiliar with “church.”
- Communicate generously about who you are and what you believe.
These points are adapted from Matthew’s presentation “Your Website if Your Church’s Welcome Mat” available as part of the Connect with Your Neighbors DVD/CD Resource Package.