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Do Church Websites Still Suck?: churchthemes.com Giveaway

Do Church Websites Still Suck?: churchthemes.com Giveaway

July 7, 2014 by

Editor’s Note: Today we’ve got WordPress developer Steve Gliebe for our 10-year anniversary series asking if church websites still suck. We’ll be discussing the broader question about church marketing all month long, so check out the other posts and share your thoughts. We’re also giving away some of Steve’s themes from churchthemes.com, so stick around for that.

When Church Marketing Sucks launched 10 years ago, only about half of churches had a website.

Today, the number is closer to 80%. While 100% would be ideal, the increase is reason for celebration. There is no shortage of pastors who can tell you about people who found their church because of their website.

Do church websites still suck? Here's the data.

There is a problem, though—and it’s widespread. While there are useful and beautiful church websites out there, it is easy to find church websites that are lacking. Meredith Gould stated the problem a little more clearly in her response to the ‘Does Church Marketing Still Suck?’ question last week:

“In my (rarely) humble opinion, church website design still sucks.” -Meredith Gould

Let’s be intentional about improving our church websites in 2014.

Common Church Website Issues
A church website needs to provide the information visitors are looking for. It also needs to create a positive impression.

Here is a list of things I often see done poorly. If you find something in this list that sounds familiar, now is the time to improve it.

  • Design is outdated or unprofessional. It’s time for a redesign.
  • Design is not mobile-friendly. Make sure your new design is responsive (this is huge today).
  • Making updates is difficult. Switch to a better content management system (WordPress!), train staff and volunteers.
  • Location is missing or hard to find. Put it on the homepage and header or footer.
  • Service times are missing or hard to find. Put it on the homepage or header.
  • Few details about the church. You need to cover about, location, service details, what to expect, beliefs, staff and ministries.
  • Contact information is missing. Make an easy to find a page with all means of contact.
  • Essentials are hard to find. Utilize your homepage, menu, header and footer better.
  • Navigation is poorly thought out. Rethink your menus, test by asking people to find things.
  • Information is not current. Keep time-sensitive information on your radar at all times.
  • Events are not posted online. Bulletins are not read as much as they were 10 years ago.
  • Sermons are not available. Help potential visitors, sick people and travelers listen online.
  • Photography is low quality. Find someone with this skill or help someone learn.
  • Photography is not representative of the church. Don’t overdo stock photos (here are some original vs. stock tips).
  • People aren’t visiting the website. Use Google Analytics, learn how to promote your site.
  • Social media is not prominent. Put icons in your header/footer, social share buttons on content.
  • Child care information is missing. Last but not least, don’t lose young families.

For more insight on improving your site, check out Getting Started: Web Basics (only 99 cents this month!).

There is no way to tell how many people never step through a church’s doors because the website they visited was lacking information or gave a bad impression. The good news is that church website problems can be solved. Take some time this week to address a couple issues and schedule more time for other improvements.

We can do better and we should do better. Church websites don’t have to suck.

Do Church Websites Still Suck?
Your turn: Do you think church websites still suck? Share your thoughts in the comments and be entered to win a church WordPress theme from churchthemes.com. Two winners will be able to pick the Exodus or Resurrect theme, including one year of support and updates (a $50 value).

  1. Post a comment below answering the question, “Do church websites still suck?”
  2. We’ll draw two winners at random on Friday, July 11 to receive a free theme from churchthemes.com.
  3. One entry per person, legit email required so we can deliver the goods if you win, [insert other legalese here].

Congrats to our winners!

 

Exodus and Resurrect Themes from churchthemes.com

What do you think: Do church websites still suck?

Post By:

Steven Gliebe


Steven develops WordPress themes for churches at churchthemes.com and recently introduced ChurchPage, a simple church website solution. You can follow him at stevengliebe.com and on Twitter.
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17 Responses to “Do Church Websites Still Suck?: churchthemes.com Giveaway”

  • Joshua Bond
    July 7, 2014

    Yes – I think they’re improving though. As I research and plan for our own site update I notice a shift in focus on most of the sites. They are more focused on the church mission as a whole rather than each ministry separately. They are also more focused on leaving that first impression that makes people want to walk through the doors.


  • Paul Oyler
    July 7, 2014

    Yes they do. Although there are some, and the number is increasing that definitely do not. As I work with many churches throughout our denomination’s regional district, I am apalled by how bad many of our sites do suck. Hopefully, one by one I can help reduce that number, at least in our region.


  • Oh Steven, thank you for sharing my pain/drain. Your list of things “done poorly” (a very generous characterization) is spot on. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you and anyone else reading this that I’ve encountered church websites that do not include location, directions, worship times or contact info. — and I’m talking about all that missing on the same single website! Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.


  • Adam Tiyce
    July 7, 2014

    Yes alot still do whether that’s through a lack of knowledge or understanding & the above points describe accurately the many reasons why they suck. I know when my wife & I were searching for a new church I checked out the sites first out of curiosity & discovered the church we are at now to be in this category & it’s only been in the last few months they’ve updated the site & we’ve been there 6 years! We tried out the church because of previous family ties but if we based or choice on website content we might have had second thoughts.


  • Andy Catsimanes
    July 7, 2014

    There are some fine sites out there. Fortunately for designers and consultants, there are still plenty that suck. Thanks, churchmarketingsucks for raising awareness on this!


  • Roger Vest
    July 8, 2014

    They have gotten better overall although many have a long way to go. Those at the top end compete with many commercial sites. For the ametuers, the tools are there to improve, but it can be confusing what to use with so many choices.


  • Kristen
    July 8, 2014

    Unfortunately since most churches rely so heavily on volunteers to design/create/update the website, many church websites do still stink.


    • Steven Gliebe
      July 9, 2014

      One issue is that volunteers tend not to stick around and staff members often move on too, so the website gets handed off to a new person who is unfamiliar with how to manage it.


  • Scotty Coyle
    July 8, 2014

    Church marketing still sucks because of under staffing and people wearing too many hats. In the business world, marketing strategy, web design and content, graphic design, display production, and sales would all be different departments and skill sets. When one person is doing all of these things, it is unrealistic to hope they are a master in all of them.


  • Sheryl Lucas
    July 8, 2014

    Oh, yes, very much so. I’m a designer in a rural county, and most of the churches are quite small. Read: no money to upgrade. My own church is mid-sized; they know they need an upgrade but giving has fallen and they just don’t have the budget for it.


  • Jacob
    July 8, 2014

    Church websites are on the up and up. The larger the church the more budget that is available for media and design thats just the fact. Even though church marketing is not the most expensive account it nonetheless is another account and therefore it does come in low on a church like mines budgeting. However, if there are tech savy people who are willing to give away their services you can see that some small churches have enhanced their online presence by utilizing the right people.
    I think there is much more we can still do to engage people online to create conversations, spread information and most importantly spread the Gospel and help people but I would say that it looks like websites are on the right move. Like anything it just takes time.


  • Nancy
    July 8, 2014

    Many first generation websites are pretty bad. Often it’s because there is just too much information crammed on them and the navigation is poor. Oh, yeah… and poor design. Thanks to some well-designed church themed templates, better sites are starting to be more attainable for smaller churches.


  • Steven Gliebe
    July 9, 2014

    I see a lot of comments noting lack of funds as a being a reason for poor church websites. That begs the question, do small church’s website suck more?


  • Kendra
    July 9, 2014

    I think a good number of church websites still stuck. Cost may be a major problem but in most cases I think another major problem is that the leaders (who have final say on the website’s look) do not understand that a website can actually suck.


  • Ashton Stewart
    July 10, 2014

    While many church websites are becoming more pleasing to the eye to look at (mostly because churches are realizing a financial investment is required), most are still mere online bulletins. A majority of church websites only offer one way communication. Unfortunately they’re missing out on the opportunity for a conversation.


  • Susan Kleinwechter
    July 10, 2014

    Yes, church websites still suck. It’s not particularly the tech that is the trouble, it’s the vision. Too much church administration and communications vision seems stuck in email, with websites and other digital communications as afterthoughts. The wealth of information from advocates like Church Marketing Sucks and author/consultant @MeredithGould can decrease the suckage, but not without church communicators investing time and energy in re-thinking and learning something new. Even though most churches can get their websites to un-suck without much money with low-cost, easy-to-use themes like Steven Gliebe’s Risen, Resurrect, and Exodus, letting go of the WAY they’ve always done communications and websites continues to hold churches back. I don’t think it’s just because volunteers manage a church site, and then move on, as others have proposed. I think it’s because print and email have priority, and because the people that manage the flow of information stay aloof from websites.


  • Terri
    July 14, 2014

    I would say a lot of sites still stuck but for a different reason. I’m seeing a lot of site a that are not updated, old calendars, events, etc., but also with the newer sites, the info is buried so deep I believe folks give up. Our church is in a small Texas town and I chose to keep it simple and clean. The update is easy and menu is easy to navigate. People want to find what they were looking for quickly as opposed to slick sites.



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