One of the first words that might come to mind with the thought of creating your church website design is, overwhelming. The possibilities seem to be endless and they are. The thing is, is that the endless possibilities are the problem and the solution all at the same time.
We’ve lined up five simple but very key elements that will help you stay engaging, efficient and user friendly. Balance should always be a top priority and a great rule of thumb is to always begin with the end in mind.
It’s completely acceptable to do a bit of a comparison on what’s working with other local church websites or what’s not. The church is one body and the purpose here is not to view another church as the competition. We share a collective mission. The goal is to see what design choices are working for other churches and take note of what may potentially help your church connect better with it’s current members and invite new ones.
After identifying some well known churches in your region that have a significant digital footprint…be thorough with your recon.
What’s functional and efficient? (information layout, site speed, form integration, social network access etc.)
What’s engaging? (parallax effects, graphic elements, use of imagery, video integration, interactive content, etc.)
It won’t take long to also identify what you like, and what you don’t like. This you will help you establish a great starting point you the design of your church website.
It’s kind of a cliché term at this point but it’s still true…content is king. More specifically video content is the new king! While this is true and video will likely be one of your most distributed types of content – it shouldn’t be the only focus.
Content is not just about the text you put on your pages – it involves several types of media and to be most effective you should work to create balance in your distribution strategy. We mentioned a few different ways to approach your content strategy in, “Don’t be dressed with no place to go!”
Bottom line – you should always think quality first and know what your audience wants and what they are responding to. How do you do that? See #1 above
Navigation should not only be easy – it should be very easy. This doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with your navigation but it’s typically not the place to go all out with the creative juices. You want it to clear, consistent and specific.
You want to keep the placement of your navigation consistent across your site. For instance, if your homepage navigation is horizontal across the top, you don’t want to move it to being vertical side navigation on another page. Not keeping consistency can cause frustration for users. You also want to speak clearly and keep a consistent “voice.” If your “About Us” navigation links to a page that’s titled, “This is who we are at ABC Church!” then you may be diminishing user experience.
Some of these things seem small but they all contribute to that warm and fuzzy feeling you want visitors to have and keep while they are visiting your site. The less they have to focus on figuring out where they are going…the more they can focus on your content.
Have you ever looked at a site on your mobile device and the layout seemed broken and the text was too small to read? That’s because it was not responsive. If you don’t have a mobile responsive site these days or you’re not planning on updating to one, then you might as well pack it up. We are nearing the point where not having a responsive design is really not an option.
Over 80% of web traffic today starts on some type of mobile device. A responsive website uses code that shrinks, grows and re-orders content for the viewer based on the device it’s being viewed on. A responsive website not only helps users view your website; it also increases engagement, connection and conversion.
Your blog and social media platforms are some of your most powerful resources and avenues of connection. This is especially true with today’s, “always connected” generation. Many church websites and websites in general for that matter, fall into neglecting these media channels.
It is one of the essential keys to expanding your reach and investing some time and energy into this can really opens some doors for your ministry. It doesn’t take much but the more you know and can put into this form of connection…the greater your potential reach to connect, engage, empower, encourage and share God’s love within and beyond your local community.
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