Have a read of these tips to consider when you are setting up your new website. There is a lot to think about, and planning ahead can be the key here.
We've been through this process before with many different types of church and non church related websites, and are happy to talk you through anything that might be difficult to understand.
The list below isn't exhaustive, so please feel free to add your comments in the box below. If you like this list, please do share it on social media.
A picture is worth 1000 words. No, it really is! Try and find which pictures communicate the message you are trying to get across to new visitors to your Church. Try and avoid this all being about the building, or focussing too much on one specific aspect of Church life.
There are plenty of sources of great free photos online that you can use freely, but these should be used sparingly. Great photos will really make a huge difference to how engaging, visually appealing and communicative your website is.
One thing to remember, though. Whatever you might be wishing for, you need to make sure that the photos on your website basically reflect your church goers. Don't fill your website with photos of rock bands and skateboarders if your average Sunday attenders are all retired.
If your Church logo looks like it is from the 1980s, this will leave a bad impression. Another turn off for many people is home made graphics eg. from your word processor. Why spend money and time on creating a beautiful website and then adding a poor quality logo right at the top?
Consistent colours and logos throughout your Churches publicity are important, so why not take this change to start afresh?
Churches Alive Online can offer expert logo design that will communicate your Churches vision beautifully.
Your website will go quickly out of date if you don't have a plan for who is going to update what. Churches Alive Online have a library of free tutorials on the Youtube Channel, so why not train up a few people from your Church to do different jobs on your website?
What would be really great would be regular new content such as a blog, magazine, study material or sermons. Why not use your site as way of reaching people in a fresh way?
Remember there is absolutely nothing worse than visiting a website to find it was last updated a few months ago.
You know that feeling when you google a business by name and you can't find their website? You wonder whether they are really a serious business. Well that's the same with your Church. What's more, it's the same on Facebook. People now expect to find your Church via a quick search on Facebook or another social media platform.
The good news is that these platforms are interactive, so you can engage with people who are on the fringes of your Church in exciting new ways.
So, plan carefully which social media sites you plan to use as a church, and make sure these are integrated in to your website fully.
Churches Alive Online can provide training for you in this area, or even manage your social media profiles for you.
Remember tip #1 was about photos? There is a reason for that. People hate reading! There is nothing more offputting than scrolling through pages of text. Can you find a way of breaking the text up? What about organising it over several pages? What about using an infographic or a Wordle instead? Of course there is an argument that text needs to be long enough to engage your audience, too. Just remember it needs to be just as long as it needs to be!
If you really do need to have large quantities of text, it might be time to create a pdf download so that people can easily save or print the document because most people won't want to read this on screen.
It's amazing how easy it is to miss off key information. What is it that people vitally need to know? Your phone number? Service times? Car parking arrangements? There will be all sorts of bits of information unique to your Church, too.
You may want to have a special page dedicated to new visitors - that's always handy when you are visiting somewhere new.
Be careful with giving away your email address though. This will quickly be collected by spam email 'bots' which will start sending you all sorts of goodies to fill up your inbox. Your enquiry form should be protected by a 'Captcha' form so that only humans can use it.
There is nothing more annoying that getting the wrong information. Do you have a different pattern of services on the 5th Sunday? The School Holidays? What about if you have a big event coming up? Make sure everything is accurate and easy to find. People won't come back to your site if they have a bad experience.
Do some of your church goers find it hard to hear? Do they get distracted by their young family? Do some people have gaps in attendence? Do you have some key teaching messages that you want to get accross to people? It's cheap and easy now to record an mp3 and drop it on to your website.
It is also quite common for new visitors to listen to a sermon before they visit a Church for the first time.
The Churches Alive Online audio tool is very easy to use, and users can listen again on a desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile device.
We're talking about good websites, obviously! You will quickly get an idea of which features you would like to se on your website, what works, doesn't work and what will help you communicate your message to new visitors.
Remember you have two audiences - potential new visitors and also existing church members. Take a look at some other sites and pick yourslf up some tips.
A regular newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your network.
Instead of keeping a list of email addresses in your mail software, Churches Alive Online suggest using a newsletter system such as Mail Chimp. This is free (if you have less than 1000 subscribers) and you can easily integrate a sign up form on to your Churches Alive Online website.
Once you have set up your new list, you can import your contacts. There are also handy mobile apps to help you use the mailchimp system. There is even one which you can use to help people sign up to your newsletter whilst you are out and about.