What Every Church Website Needs: 7 Elements Your Site Must Have
There are certain features that make up what every church website needs to get the best results. These elements (or lack thereof) can determine how a visitor perceives your church and whether they decide to interact any further.
Here’s something to keep in mind…
Your website is the most important tool you have when it comes to growing your church.
- It’s where you can offer valuable resources to believers.
- It’s where you can receive donations outside of services.
- It’s where you can highlight your work in the community.
Your website is the first impression most people are going to get about your church, and we all know that first impressions are key!
If your website has been an afterthought up until this point, it’s time to make it a top priority. Even if you’re happy with your site for the most part, there’s always room for improvement.
7 Church Website Essentials
What every church website needs to guide, inform, and engage visitors is a mixture of features—some more technical than others. But what they all have in common is they help improve the visitor experience. By making sure you have these 7 church website essentials in place, you can set your site up for success!
1) Eye-Catching Imagery That Inspires
In a case study by Nucleus that analyzed more than 1,000 church websites, a whopping 96% of them failed the first impression test. Moreover, a study by Northumbria University revealed that the main driver of first impressions of websites is the feel of them.
And what (more than anything else) contributes to the feel of a church website?
You’d be surprised how many churches miss out on this simple yet powerful website element. They either use stock photos or leave images off altogether.
Your website should speak volumes about your church community. And the best way to do that is to use actual photos of your church leaders, your congregants, and your facility.
Authenticity is a big part of what every church website needs to appeal to potential supporters. Including real photos from your church is how you can demonstrate your own.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Simply find a couple of leaders or church members who like to take photos and ask them to snap some shots during events, ministry work, and services.
This is the best and easiest way to help potential members and donors discover what your church is really like.
2) Mobile-Responsive Design
Another amazing stat that came out of the Nucleus case study is that 40% of the church websites did not have a responsive design.
What is responsive design?
It means that your website automatically adjusts in size depending on the device it is being viewed on.
We’ve all been on our smartphones trying to navigate a website that wasn’t responsive. It’s a mess.
You end up having to move the pages around to be able to view everything, and links are difficult to click on. It makes for a frustrating experience that most people won’t waste their time on. Today, a responsive design is at the top of the list when it comes to church website essentials.
According to Merkle's 2019 Digital Marketing Report, 63% of the searches on Google are done on a mobile device. That means that you'll lose most of your visitors if you don't have a responsive design.
3) Easy-to-Use Layout
No one likes disorder and chaos. So, when a website doesn’t have clean, easy navigation, it makes people want to click away.
Don’t make your website visitors have to hunt around for what they’re looking for. It’s frustrating and not worthy of their time. When it comes to what every church website needs, this is an important one.
Your home page should provide your visitors with access to everything and anything they need on your website—whether that be a link to your events, your social media accounts, or a way to donate.
It’s also important to include a link to new visitor information on your home page. This is an invaluable resource for people who don’t know what to expect because it takes a lot of the anxiety away from trying a new church.
Whatever you include on your site, make it organized and easy to access.
4) Quick Load Times
The Nucleus case study used the Pingdom Website Speed Test to determine if the websites passed the speed test, and 38% of them failed.
Give it a try right now to see how fast your website is. (We’ll wait.)
According to Soasta, websites that load in 2 seconds as opposed to 3 seconds see a 27% increase in their conversion rates.
That’s huge, so think twice when you find yourself asking how much difference one second can make.
Further, the speed of your website not only affects your conversion rates but also plays a large role in how well your site will rank in the search engines. The page speed ranking update was added by Google in 2018, and it can determine if your website will even be seen or not.
5) Free Resources
People are spending more time at home than ever before, and as they are doing that, many of them are seeking deeper meaning in life.
That’s why what every church website needs is to provide free resources that people can access from the comfort of their own homes.
This could include…
- Online classes
- Sermon videos or recordings
- Links to trusted resources
- Inspirational stories
- Virtual ministry and volunteer opportunities
You might also want to provide free downloadable resources that require an opt-in. You can give them an e-book or other piece of content in exchange for their email address. And then, you can start building up your list for email marketing purposes.
6) Online Giving Option
What every church website needs for sure is a page dedicated to online giving.
After all, many people prefer to make their donations electronically than with cash during a service. In fact, 49% of all church donations are made with a credit card.
And the opportunity for recurring donations makes online giving that much more valuable.
There are many ways to receive donations online, including the following:
- Mobile giving
- Giving kiosk
- Web form
Tip: When you provide an online giving option, be sure to simplify the required form. Offer them several ways to give, and provide suggested amounts as well as a custom amount option.
Here’s what your donation page should include in order to grow your church donation base:
- Easy-to-find calls to action (buttons they can click to donate)
- An explanation of the impact their donation will make
- Photos and examples of the results you get
- Upcoming ministry projects you plan to work on
- A link to your church app (if you have one)
7) Brand Consistency
Members and newcomers will have a hard time figuring out your church if you are all over the place with your branding.
By being consistent with the look, feel, voice, and message of your church across all visual assets and in person, you’ll be able to build awareness of who you are, what you’re all about, and what you stand for.
This increases recognition so when someone sees a Facebook post, they will instantly recognize that it’s from you. They’ll experience the same type of “personality” when they are at your church as they will when they are donating online.
This also helps increase trust because you’ll make it clear that you have a full understanding of who you are. And when you do, others can more easily get behind you.
What Every Church Website Needs: Final Thoughts
When it comes to what every church website needs to ensure the best results, these 7 elements are key. But although every church website needs them, many aren’t including them. So, taking steps to put them in place can have dramatic results for your church.