Your website could be one of the greatest evangelism tools you own and has the potential to reach hundreds, even thousands, of people who do not go to your church yet. The internet is seamlessly interwoven in today’s society and is one of the main ways in which people find a new church when moving into a new area.
Who are your visitors?
One essential element to think about in the creation or editing process of any website is the audience/user. Some common users are:
- Members of the church
- Christians moving into the area
- Local non-Christians
These audiences all have different requirements, for example using religious terms will mean little to local non-Christians and Christians moving into the area won’t necessarily want to see a comprehensive list of who does the flowers or welcomes newcomers. Always consider how best to serve your audience.
It can be helpful to think of your website as the virtual window into your church and a powerful tool to help your church to grow!
Key things to consider
Navigation is ‘king’ when it comes to building an effective website. As few top-line navigation headings as possible won’t limit the number of pages you can have and will help users navigate the website easier. A good maximum to aim for is around 6 but no more than 10 items - the fewer the better. You can find some key pages to consider within your website’s navigation here.
More and more people are scrolling the internet using their mobile devices and a good number of web developers are taking a ‘mobile first’ approach, meaning they build a website considering its look and feel on a mobile and tablet over a desktop/laptop. Whatever approach you take it is important to consider how your website translates onto a smaller screen.
Our final suggested key consideration is to make good use of visuals. Good quality immersive photos or videos of services, activities and events can greatly help visitors feel they are getting to experience your church before they even step foot into the building. Try and paint an authentic picture through your visuals - you can find helpful tips here. Use photos taken at your church activities and avoid using stock images wherever possible. And, of course, ensure you only use images with the correct consent in place. Being mindful of ICO guidelines on data consent and also Safeguarding House of Bishops guidance.
Further tips and consideration
View some important tips to consider when creating, or editing, a church website by clicking on a title for further information.
A Church Near You is a powerful, yet simple, online tool offered by the Church of England completely free of charge. Every parish in the nation is listed on the sits with millions using it annually to search for information on a church near them. It can be used, within its own right, as a church website or as a supporting platform for your current site.
A Church Near You is integrated into our diocesan website and is key for helping visitors find parish contact information, so gaining access (if you haven’t already) and assigning someone to manage it will help increase your reach.
The most important and obvious page to include is the homepage. It is the first impression someone may have of your church! Consider the different people who will be using the website and ensure that the information they want is clearly laid out and accessible from the homepage.
Your website will hopefully encourage people to attend church. As such it is essential someone new can easily find out when your services are held and how they can find you on a Sunday.
Embedding a Google Map onto your website is a great way of telling people your address as it allows people to plan their route to the church.
Having a consistent style throughout your website is important. However, having just one website administrator is inadvisable. There have been many examples of a tech-savvy churchgoer setting up a church website before leaving with no one able to update the website.
It can be useful to encourage those closest to the content on the page to keep it up-to-date. For instance, having the Alpha Course leader update the page about the Alpha Course. This ensures that the page is kept up to date, cuts down on unnecessary emails and shares the workload.
In addition to the pages suggested above in ‘Key things to consider’, News Stories, Sermons and Blogs also make for engaging web content.
Blogs and opinion pieces are another form of regular content that can be hosted on a website. You never know what interests and talents you may be able to discover in your church by giving people a platform from which they can share. Ensure that you identify who the author is, add a disclaimer and bring the content into your house style before posting.
Sermons can be an especially helpful regular feature on a website. Not only will it inform potential visitors about the type of church they will be visiting but it can also help regular churchgoers.
General Data Protection Regulations makes it essential that we are as transparent as possible with why and how we process people’s data. Writing and making a privacy notice available on your website is good practice.
Once you have created your website people need to find it, this applies particularly to search engines and boosting your website to the top of the search results. The use of keywords and other websites linking through to your website may boost your position in the search results.
Claiming and improving your Google card is another central method of boosting your church website’s web presence.
The Google Card for your church shows key information about your church, including opening times and contact information. As a primary source of information potential visitors see it is essential for this to be up to date. Setting up the google business card is free and is fairly easy to do.
Churches will need to create a Google My Business listing (or get access to one, if it already exists). Visit the Google support page for help with how to do this. Not claiming this card also leaves churches vulnerable to someone else doing it and providing incorrect information.
If you would like any support on church websites or social media please get in touch with the Communications Team and we will support you however we can.