Church websites aren’t easy to construct, especially with no dedicated staff members. Perhaps a significant chunk of change went into the project several years ago, but no one has touched it since. In an ever-evolving digital age, it’s important for your website to reflect your vibrant parish. How do you know when it’s time for a makeover?
1. Your Church Doesn’t Have a Website at All
Ok, we know this is a bit of a cop-out. But there are parishes that still don’t have a parish website. With 89% of America online, you should be, too.
2.Your Church Website Is Heavy on Outdated Trends
Technology and design are constantly in motion. If you last updated your website in 2005, the age will show! For a quick diagnosis, see if your website displays the following symptoms.
- Excess Widgets: A few functional widgets can be helpful, such as embedded calendar or RSS feed to your church’s social media pages. However, loading up your home page with special applications can lead to a cluttered screen and slow load times. Choose your features wisely.
- Flash Animation: If Flash isn’t loading properly, this can cause confusion and impatience when people land on your page.
- Cluttered Backgrounds: Plain color or white space should be behind your text. Texture or patterns are visually distracting from the content. They also decrease the functioning of your website by making it difficult to read. Framing — placing all your content in the middle of the screen with blank space thick along the edges — is also out. Avoid “sprucing up” your page by putting patterned or detailed imagery on the sidelines.
- Telling Rather than Showing: We live in the Twitter age. Long paragraphs of description are not what people are looking for on your website. Use fewer, tighter phrases to convey your message, and consider using more photos to tell your parish story in images instead.
3. Your Church Website Doesn’t Translate Properly to Mobile
47% of online traffic comes through smartphones, not computers. If your website looks the same on a phone screen as it does on a desktop, you have a problem! Online visitors will need to resize your page, scroll awkwardly, and squint to find what they’re looking for. It’s important that your website sizes itself properly to a mobile screen. Many site builders and web hosts are automatically offering this service. If you’re not sure if your church website is mobile-friendly, head there on your smartphone! You can also type in the URL in a Google tool to see how your site stacks up.
4. Your Website Forgets You’re a Church
Of course, we don’t mean it actually “forgets.” People visit certain websites for different reasons. When online shopping, people want easy access to product categories and obvious notes that there’s a sale going on. When you visit your bank’s website, you’re probably there to check your account. A bank that hides their online account log-in under several navigation clicks will probably receive complaints. People are coming to your church website for specific reasons. Mass times, events, and contact information rank high in those reasons. How visible are they? Check out our “10 Must Haves for Your Parish Website” for a more thorough list.
5. Your Site Doesn’t Reflect Your Mission
This can seem a bit subjective, but it matters! How do you want people to feel when they walk out your church doors? How about when they land on your church website? Examine your parish mission statement and unique charisms. Are these being adequately conveyed online? Your website should tell the story of your vibrant parish in a way that’s fresh, compelling, and true to your identity.
How does your website look?