So you think your church needs a website. Or a new site. Or a better site. Rock on. Welcome to Church Websites 101, a quick and dirty series about how to start or restart your church’s website.
We need to talk about your call to action. What do you actually want people to do when they visit your site? And the clincher is that you need this question to drive how you design and think about your site. That sounds like a ‘duh’ statement, but there are so many sites out there (churches and non-churches) where there’s no clear call to action. Users are left scratching their heads while they click around aimlessly. That’s a good way to lose people.
Your call to action needs to be specific, clear and easy.
There has to be a single action you want people to do. It can’t be vague and wishy-washy. It needs to be concrete: Visit a Sunday morning worship service, contact your pastor, fill out a form requesting more info, attend a welcome bash, think about Jesus, etc. Pick something very specific.
You need to make it crystal clear what you want people to do and how to do it. This should be the main feature of your homepage. It should be obvious in the navigation. You need to funnel users directly to accomplishing this action. If you want people to visit on a Sunday morning, you should have an entire section devoted to new visitors. It should be highlighted on the homepage and be accessible from every page in the site. You can’t let them miss it.
Whatever you’re asking people to do needs to be easy. The harder your call to action is, the easier you need to make it. Filling out a form to get more info is a pretty easy ask. There’s very little pressure there. A basic form is all you need. Getting somebody to visit on Sunday is a much harder call to action. You need more than a page. You need that entire section and it should answer every question they might have: How do I get there? What time does it start? What should I wear? Where do the kids go? What can I expect? You’re asking a lot (come to a strange new place) so you need to do a lot to make it easy for them.
What’s My Call to Action?
If you did your planning right, coming up with your call to action should be a no-brainer. Look at your goals and figure out what’s the obvious step to accomplish those goals. Make it specific, clear and easy and you’re home free.
I can already hear the naysayers: But we don’t want to tell people how to do it! They should be free to explore and take their time. Yeah, sure, and they’ll explore their way somewhere else. You have something you want your site visitors to do (otherwise why do you have a site?), so come out and ask them to do it. We have no problem telling people where to park or when to sit and stand—why is it so hard for a website to be straight-forward?
Your website will be more effective and more useful with a call to action. Figure out yours and make it central to the rest of your website process.
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