Essentials is a strong word, but you will really put people off if you miss these out. Your church website has two main audiences - new visitors and existing church goers. The first of these will get their first impressions of your church by checking out the website and they will not hang around if they don't find what they are looking for.
This list isn't exhaustive. What else would you add?
It's really important to know who is who if you are going to visit a Church.
Is everything really run by one person? Tell people about your team, and don't be shy with photos - they make a huge difference.
Don't forget that not everyone will speak your church 'language,' so it's a good idea to explain in clear, simple terms and roles and responsibilities that people hold.
People need to know the Church address and the key service times. This needs to be very easily accessible, preferably there should be a summary of the main worship events on the front page or accessible simply and easily in one click.
After the main page, it should be easy to find out the detail of the full range of events.
Check and recheck. Imagine you are visiting for the first time and checking quickly via your mobile. Can you find out what, when and where?
What will children be experiencing in your church? Will they be safe? Have fun? Give a flavour of what happens as well as key information about when and where. What about other church groups? Put yourself in the shoes of a single person of one particular age group. What would your church look like through their eyes if they visited your website? Make the most of the different groups in your church by adding clear information and, if possible, photos.
Who do people need to contact? How? There are so many ways to get in touch now and people need to find what they are looking for quickly and easily.
Check phone numbers and location. It's worth investing time here - for example can you see a map of your church location with an accurate positon? Do you have a Facebook group? Where do you park? Each church will have different information.
An email address is not needed (they can be collected by spam sites) but this MUST be replaced with an enquiry form that is connected to someone who will respond in a timely fashion.
What are the biggest 3 or 4 events on your the calendar of your church? As a minimum, people will expect accurate, up to date information about these to be on your site. If they look and this information isn't there, they won't come back as your site will get a reputation for being useless and unreliable.
There is nothing worse that an out of date website. Your site needs to be vibrant, alive and up to the minute. In the case of blogs, notices and news pages there should always be an indication on when this information was posted. So plan for a minimum of one part of your website to be regularly updated (weekly if possible) by someone in your church.
Play to your churches strengths and try to utilise existing skills you have so that your site displays the character and individuality of your church. Ideas might include:
- A calendar
- A news page
- A twitter feed
- A blog
- A newsletter
- A photo gallery