As we gear up for the Creative Missions trip in Alaska this May, we will be building brands, print communication pieces and websites. It’s important to keep these five basics in mind, not only for these churches we are serving, but I think all church websites need to clearly address these five basic questions: Who, what, when, where and how. Easy, huh?
Who are you? Your church name, leadership and mission should be clear. Introduce the key leaders and staff members. For a first time guest, it’s comforting to see what the pastor looks like and recognize a few staff. Especially when they need help, directions or have questions.
What do you stand for, what is your church doing to communicate the love of Jesus? Share your projects and outreach ministries in an easy to browse format. Make sure your mission, vision and theology are clear. Don’t make a visitor hunt for any of this information.
When do you meet? My family recently moved to a new city and needed to hunt for a new church. I was floored by how hard this was on many of the church sites we browsed. Could be great churches, but they never stood a chance in my book. We had about 10 churches on our short list and half were dropped pretty quick due to the lack of information. Sure we could have called or emailed, but half the churches on our list had clear info. Once we found the church we liked, we stopped the search.
Don’t expect your users to reach out if they can’t find the service times. They will simply move on.
Just as important as when you meet, where you meet. For some brick and mortar churches this is less difficult than a mobile/portable church. Regardless, sharing your address is just the tip of the iceberg.
Communicate the best directions, parking, children’s check in, etc. Anything possible to ease the first five minutes of your guest experience will go a long way with any visitor.
How can someone get engaged with the church? Events, ministries, missions, service, etc. This is a secondary information to the above. Keep in mind the person looking for this info has likely been to your church a few times, but a new visitor will still want to see this info even if they don’t engage yet. It communicates how you are living out your mission and vision.
Provide points of engagement and action on all these pages. Promote these internally to get church members to sign up, connect with a ministry leader, and volunteer. Don’t forget to close the loop with a call to action!
Bonus Tip: Make it Accessible.
Everything you do online needs to be mobile friendly. It’s estimated that 50% of all consumer traffic this year will be on a touch device. iPads, Android tablets, smart phones, we all have one or two. While being mobile responsive is my personal goal on every site, just being mobile friendly will suffice for this list. No flash, no crazy scripts that can crash and avoid text in images.
Final Take Away
Keep all the above in mind first and foremost. Clear information and easy to use will go further than flashy graphics. Keep it simple and usable.
We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.
For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.