A few weeks back we began a series of blog articles about church websites. It started with “What is the Purpose of a Church Website,” where I outlined the three primary purposes for a church website:
- To help people looking for a church home.
- To assist people already attending the church to know what ministries and activities are available for them.
- To help people grow spiritually by providing additional resources that complement the services and ministries.
Pam explored the first purpose in her articles “How Inclusive Is Your Church Website?“, which discussed how to make the content of your website welcoming to non-members, and “The 5 C’s of Intelligent Web Design,” which touched on how to make the design and appearance of your website welcoming. Today I’m switching gears to the second purpose, making your church website an informational resource to help people in your church get connected with others and use their gifts in service.
Communicating on Their Terms
Let’s face it, in this busy world where so many things are competing for a person’s attention, it’s difficult to keep the people of your congregation informed about events and opportunities. Most church communication methods attempt to inform people on the church’s terms. For example, when the pastor or someone else gets up Sunday morning during the service and makes announcements, they talk about the events and opportunities they think are important, providing the details they think are important, in the time frame they think is important. But invariably there are activities and details that are of interest to some people that go unmentioned and there are some people who just aren’t there. Church attendees have get this information through some other means.
A church website is by far the best communication method for enabling members to get the information they want, to the level of detail they want, at the time they want it. Done right, your church website can be the best communication tool in your tool box, and the people of your congregation will be better informed, feel more connected to what’s going on in the church, and be more involved.
Here are 11 tips for making your church website a great informational resource for members.
- Keep it current. Your church website should be updated at least once a week. If people go to your site and see old information, they will be far less likely to check it in the future.
- Make it comprehensive. Your church website needs to have information on EVERYTHING that is going on. If you leave things out, people will be far less likely to check it in the future.
- Send a consistent message. If you’re announcing an opportunity from the pulpit, in the bulletin, on the website, and by other means, use the same language in every case. It will save you time, and provide clarity.
- Double-check it for accuracy. I recall one time when my church’s bulletin and website gave two different times for an event. You can imagine the confusion and frustration that caused.
- Proof it for errors. If your website includes spelling and grammatical errors, people will question the accuracy of the information, the church’s commitment to the site, and the competence of the website staff.
- Mention the website address repeatedly in every other form of communication. “For more information see our website at blahblahblah.com” should be the most repeated phrase in verbal announcements, phone calls, the church bulletin, flyers, voice mail, email signatures, etc.
- Use an intuitive layout. To help people find the information they are looking for, use the same menu navigation on every page. Put some thought into how your organize and name the sections and pages of your website, so things are easy to find.
- Calendar. Put a calendar on your website and keep it updated.
- Bonus features. Include things in your website that your members can’t get anywhere else, like photo galleries of recent events. This will give people additional reasons to visit the site.
- Two-way communication. Provide many easy ways on the website for people to contact church staff and ministry team leaders if they have additional questions. That means a phone number, email address, or contact form for the point of contact on every page.
- Be inclusive. Don’t allow your desire to make your church website a great resource for members overwhelm the need to be welcoming and inclusive to visitors. Keep information for visitors as the top priority on your website, and don’t use insider words and phrases without explaining them. (How Inclusive Is Your Church Website?)
The Flywheel Effect
When you first commit to making your website a great informational resource for your church, you will put a lot of time and effort into it and only a few people will notice. But don’t be dismayed — as you consistently update it and refer to it in other communications, more and more people will begin to notice that they can reply on the website for current, accurate information. Momentum will begin to build. Before long, you’ll notice the same amount of work it took to inform a handful of people at the onset now helps dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people stay informed. This is what Jim Collins) in his book Good to Great called “The Flywheel Effect.”
When accelerating a flywheel, it’s important to apply force continuously and consistently. If you’re inconsistent, the wheel will begin to slow or wobble. The same is true for your church website. If you follow the 11 tips above consistently, you will continue to build momentum. Before you know it, your church website will become a great information resource for the people of your congregation.