Wednesday Website Weview: The ARK Church of God, Manchester, NH

The ARK Church of GodFor this week’s Wednesday Website Weview we are looking at The ARK Church of God in Manchester, NH.

Background

Pastor Bob Beal requested the review writing, “I am new to using a website and would like help on doing a better job with it.”

A little more about the site:

  • The site was created using Church Web Works
  • Target audience: We are trying to reach people of all ages
  • Budget: As economical as possible.
  • Goals: Not sure.

Appearance & Layout

I’m sorry to say it looks like the cheap, non-custom template site that it is.  The gray and blue is a rather dull color set.  It’s good that there are images in the header, but I suggest switching out the images of the table, empty room, and whatever is in the “Peace” image for more images with people in them.  And in my opinion the transition effect with the circles is kind of cheesy.

For what it’s worth, I’m not a huge fan of the logo.  Noah’s Ark has become such a popular baby/kids theme, that I think it will be hard for most adults not to get the impression that the church is either childish or out of touch.  If the church is serious about reaching people in the community, I would seriously consider renaming and rebranding the church.

Navigation & Usability

It’s good that there are only 7 main items in the navigation menu.  However, there are far too many sub-menu items under “About Us” and many of them don’t really belong there.

I would suggest the following changes:

  • Move “Contact Us” and make it a main navigation link.
  • Create a “Communications” main menu item
  • Put Pastor Bob’s Blog, Prayer, Discussion Forums, Guestbook, and IT Support & suggestions plus the Events, Video and Links pages in the Communications menu
  • That means the Events, Media, and Links are no longer in the main menu
  • If you’re serious about reading unbelievers, consider moving the “Wondering about God” page in the main menu

Purpose & Goals

The welcome statement on the homepage communicates what the church and the website are about.  Though, I would suggest adding a call to action at the end.  Something like,   “Please come join us for worship this Sunday or contact us if there’s anything we can do to help you.”

Content

First of all, remove the counter from the right sidebar.  It makes the site look dated not to mention unused (only 246 visitors).

I suggest adding at least one image (preferably one that has people in it) to every page.

There are lots of pages that have no content at all.  Either add content or remove them.

Finding the Website

I searched Google for “churches in Manchester, NH” and The ARK Church of God was not the top 30 general or local search results.  In Yahoo, The ARK was #1 in the local listings but not in the top 30 general listings.  In Bing, it was not in the top 30 for either the local or general search results.  So, there’s quite a bit of room for improvement here.

I would start by registering a local search listing in Google and Bing.

I would also suggest adding “Manchester, NH” to the title tag, description meta tag, keywords meta tag, and the content on the homepage.

Another option would be to purchase a church search marketing service.

Interactivity & Social Media

There are forums on the site, but they aren’t being used.  Most churches have a difficult time getting the critical mass needed to make forums worthwhile.  I suggest either rallying 5-10 core people who will post regularly to the forums or get rid of them.

The pastor has a blog.  That’s good.  It looks like it was just started last week and there’s only one post.  Blogging takes consistency, so be sure to post at least once a week.

The church doesn’t appear to be doing any social networking.  There are no links to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or any other social sites.

Conclusion

My honest opinion is I think the website gives the impression that the church is old, boring, and somewhat out of touch.  But the good news is significant improvements can be made without a lot of time and money.  My top suggestions are:

  1. Select a better template or better yet have one custom designed.
  2. Eliminate the counter from the right sidebar.
  3. Reorganize the navigation menu.
  4. Add content or remove blank pages.
  5. Add at least one image to each page.

To really take the site to the next level I recommend:

  • Have a professional web developer create a custom site for the church.
  • Have a professional optimize and register the site for search engines.
  • Test the waters in Facebook and Twitter.
  • Consider renaming and rebranding the church.

What do you think?  Agree or disagree with any of the recommendations?  Do you have any other suggestions for The ARK Church of God?

If you’d like a free, professional review of your website, just click.  Remember to be eligible to have your site reviewed next week, you must comment on one of this week’s blog posts.

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

3 Responses to “Wednesday Website Weview: The ARK Church of God, Manchester, NH”

  1. I enjoy reading these blogs. They are very helpful to novice webmasters stay informed on website content, etc.

  2. It's so good to read these comments. It helps a lot in making better decisions about our own site. Thanks for doing this.

  3. I do agree with Paul's suggestions. They would all make a big difference in the look and navigation of the site. I know that changing your name could be an issue with your people, but if you really want to reach people effectively, it would be a good idea. The whole ark thing does give a definite childish impression. Have fun working through the changes. It will be well worth it!!