Over the past 10-15 years, building a website has become a major focus for churches across the country. For younger generations the internet has become a primary source for information, making a website a prime tool for attracting newer, younger members. Some churches have known this for years and some are still catching on, but what is true regardless is that churches tend to make the same common design mistakes, new or old. From our experience working directly with churches we have discovered a growing trend of poorly designed websites. Here are a few key mistakes to avoid while you’re designing your website, or a few factors to look out for if you already have one.
There’s probably a lot going on at your church, and it’s important that your website reflects that. After all the ultimate goal of your site is to attract new members and become an information source for your congregation. With that in mind it’s important to make vital information as easy to access as possible. Cluttering the site with large, space consuming animations or flashy images will distract users and make information difficult to find. Put yourself in the shoes of a new potential member: chances are the first things you’re going to look for when searching for a new church are service times, contact information and a location. Make these as easy to find as possible.
Overuse of “royal” colors.
In church web design trends, there tends to be a focus on “royal” colors such as red, gold and purple (among others). These are typically used as a way to symbolize God and His Kingdom, and in many cases are simply extensions of a church’s logo and/or color scheme. While this makes sense, often times these colors can make a website “loud” and difficult to read. The need for simplicity has already been stressed, and this extends to your color scheme as well. Royal colors can and should be use if they reflect your message and branding, but choosing a more neutral background will make your page more visually appealing and keep users on your site longer.
Aside from being a source of information, your website is supposed to convey the image of a modern church. Nothing negates this more than sloppy, low quality images. Having older pictures of your staff, church or events that are stretched, distorted or pixelated shows a lack of attention to detail and can give the impression that your site isn’t properly maintained. Take the time to get high quality images on your site. In many cases an average smartphone camera is probably sufficient.
Lack of maintenance.
Expanding on what was discussed in the previous point, your site needs to be properly maintained, or at least give the impression that it’s maintained regularly. Have internal discussions and assign someone the responsibility of keeping the site updated. Easy ways to show that your site is current are to have regular blog posts, photos of different church events or to simply upload a digital copy of the weekly bulletin. If this isn’t possible it’s probably a good idea to focus on keeping the essentials (service times, schedule, contact information and staff) current and avoid dating the things that you do post. If someone visiting your site sees that the last thing posted is from three years ago, it will probably turn them off altogether.
A website is important, but simply HAVING one isn’t enough. It needs to be used properly and be optimized for you to get the most out of it.