How we do church has seen a drastic change over the past, say, 50 years.
We could go back farther, but that suffices given the technological advances that have occurred during the period. The internet plays the most crucial role in this evolution, with the younger generation catapulting the changes through use of social media thriving on instant visual gratification. This makes web design ever more critical and requires a response from the church to ensure the mission of building the body additionally extends digitally.
So, you may be wondering, how does web design actually affect church attendance and the way we do church?
Let’s take a look at a few staggering statistics to get a better view of the issue.
- 64% of church goers say the church website is important in facilitating participation in church
- 56% of young adults (18 – 29) use online search to review a church before visiting
- 46% of church attendees say a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit and 33% say the internet was the first place where they learned about their church
- 23% found out about their church through the church website compared to 26% through the church bulletin
What can be done to ensure church’s have a solid digital existence and provide a good first impression to potential visitors? How do church’s get their website found on the internet? Glad you asked, here are some simple solutions.
First things first, to be found, your church needs a domain name. Not just any name or acronym will work here though. Churches should take care to choose a domain name that is easy to remember but also as short and descriptive as possible. Ideally, the name of the church should be used in conjunction with a .church domain. These domains are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to obtain but with a bit of creativity, the perfect domain name for your church can be achieved.
As with any other website on the interwebs, potential visitors will not allow a slow loading site to waste their time. The list of web hosting providers is extensive and can be overwhelming when trying to choose one. Keep in mind that site speed is VERY important. Choose a provider that has a good reputation and 24 hour, highly-rated customer support.
Some top providers include Bluehost, Flywheel and WPengine. Our favorite tools available to test the speed and functionality of your church website are Pingdom Website Speed Test and Google PageSpeed Insights.
Search Engine Optimization ensures your church’s website can be easily found by major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing). The most valuable SEO data is data which helps you understand your site visitors and how they interact with your site. Our favorite tools for SEO testing and validation are GTmetrix and Google Analytics
A welcome banner or video is a great way to engage visitors and introduce your church to tell a little about what makes it unique. Quality, legible images are a biggie and we tend to favor organizational images over stock. Part of telling your church’s unique story includes a look into what it looks like to attend in-person. What better way to portray this environment than through use of images of church services, activities and events.
A “new visitors” area can be pivotal for converting web site visitors into actual church visitors and potential members. Whether users request more information, desire to serve in ministry or find out about options available for kids. This area can be tailored to fit the specific needs and desires of the church.
We can’t forget about our members. Offer a “members only” area where discussions can take place, prayer request can be submitted or any other action that asks your members for participation.
Often under-appreciated and under-utilized, email can very well be the lifeblood of your digital relationships. As much flack as emails receive in a age of audio/video texting, they continue to serve a major role in helping your church connect with the community. Adding a sign up form for email communications gives your church a more personable and farther reaching impact. After all, winning as many souls to Christ as possible is the goal, right?
If a church can’t be Googled, then only its members know it exists”
The church must remember it’s overall mission to make disciples, glorify Christ and build up the saints. The internet now reaches more people than ever before and tomorrow that number will increase. What better avenue than a website to carry out this mission and impact the world? The key is letting people know you exist.
The most faithful and fruitful churches are those that are diligent in missions, persevere in Godliness, and preach the adulterated Word. Without a good website, those who could have experienced the faithfulness and fruitfulness offered may be missed. Church websites are at their best when people are able to find the church online and then visit in person without wondering if they are at the wrong building.
Remember awareness, connection and engagement.
What are some ways your church is using web design to change the way we do church?