What do you think about your website? Does it accomplish what you wish it would for your church or organization? This past year we spent a lot of time asking and analyzing these questions for our website.
That's why we were so excited last week to publish the results of our work. Check it out. There are all kinds of articles and blog posts out there from professional marketing and website design firms that are incredible. We don't pretend to compete with them. But, we did learn some things along the way.
Like creating anything, the most important question is not what to do, nor how to do it. Those come later. The best place to start is with why. In this case, "Why a new website."
Here are five important ideas that come directly from asking this question that I think will help you make your website better as well.
1. Look at your vision through their eyes. A big part of the process for us early on was trying to come up with a headline that captures why we provide software for churches. These are the first phrases people see when they come to our corner of the Internet. Here's why we chose each of them:
Connecting people. People are lonely. They are lost, confused, and often purposeless. We want to help them connect to God by connecting to the church.
Empowering leaders. Church leaders are fatigued from concern for their people, their church, and the times in which we live. We can help them not be overwhelmed by technology too.
As you re-view the vision of your church, look at it through the eyes of those you serve. Let your website help them know you understand.
2. Websites need maintenance too. At one point in the process I showed our team the direction we were heading in terms of the look of our new website. They were kind, but they were also clear that the look was more like 2018 than 2022. That insight changed our whole process.
I'll bet you mow the lawn, trim the bushes, paint the walls, update the carpet, and change out the furniture in your church building to make it more comfortable and welcoming. You have to do the same with your website.
3. Things have changed. Our last website was published in 2017. We occasionally updated the language, but old features matured and new ones were added. On our website, the Pricing page gets more hits than any other page except the Home page. It's the page where everything, old and new, gathers to answer the one question everyone is asking, "how much does it cost?"
I don't know that there is a "pricing page" for churches, but what I do know is that change happens. I hear from every corner how churches have changed in the past few years. How has yours changed? Does your website reflect that?
4. People are (Google) searching. Our former website was built on slower technology and as a result limited our ranking on Google. Search is a key part of our business development strategy and speed plays a part.
People will search for churches in your area to find one to try. You can put your web address on this PageSpeed insights tool to check its speed. 90 and above is excellent. Below 50 is poor. No matter the speed of your website, here's a tip that will get people's attention.
Lots of times people do their search on Google maps. Something like "churches near me" or "best churches near me". When they do, a 5 star review ranking shows up. Have your leaders and raving fans write a review on Google maps. Seeing a high review score is like inviting them to come to church and only helps search.
5. People need to know what to do next. After checking out the website, we discussed what our call to action would be. We knew we wanted to have a conversation to hear their story and get to know them. But, we also felt some people would prefer to try it themselves. So, we decided to give two options: join a Meet The Software webinar, or start a free trial.
The call to action for most churches is clear - come, join us. However, most of the time, there's not an opportunity for them to respond right then. I am encouraged to see more churches add a "Prepare for your visit" registration opportunity to their service times and attire page.
This registration does two things. First, it gives them an opportunity to commit. This helps them follow through. Secondly, it gives your church the opportunity to reach out to them with a welcome even before they attend. Our workflow tool is incredibly helpful to automate this welcome process.
I hope these ideas will empower you and your website to better connect people to your church. After all, that's what we do.
Here's a couple of things that would help us if you would like. First, Google is still indexing our website, click here and then click around to check it out. Secondly, we use G2 as a third party source to collect reviews. If you could give us a great review, that would be awesome!