We can always look at the typical stuff, color scheme, spelling, easy navigation, etc… Those who design websites for a living have a good understanding of the above, but what makes a great website? Don’t get me wrong those definitely are worth noting. They are very important and should be utilized across your site. We’ll touch on those in the “technical” portion of which we’re calling “aesthetics”.

We strongly believe in first impressions are lasting impressions. How was your first experience with “insert your restaurant of choice here”? If you loved it, chances are it’s your new fav. If you didn’t, chances are you’re telling others about your experience. With this in mind, let’s think of your church lobby/foyer or your restrooms. These leave a first impression on your first time visitors.

What about your website? Your website does have first-time visitors, just like your big, beautiful church with manicured lawns and the best volunteer greeter you can find. So why pay attention to your website. Here’s a couple of stats for you:

  • 94% of people cited web design as the reason they mistrusted or rejected a website
  • 40% of people ventured away from a website if it loaded for more than 3 seconds

So, in short, most people will trust your website and stay on it if it looks good and loads fast, respectively. This is so very interesting, but a no duh moment if you ask me. We all already know this. This, too, happens in real life and are called – first impressions.

In online marketing, there is something called a “landing page”. This is the page that we all get when we “click here for more info” button. This is typically the first impression of sorts, an introduction to the company, brand, idea, etc… This is the make it or break it page. Will we keep on reading? Will we click through the site? Will we sign up for the newsletter or contact them? This is their first impression and it’s trying its best to make it a good one.

Why can’t we, in ministry, do the same thing for our first-time visitors online? The answer is we can and definitely should. Take into account, once more, the two previously noted statistics above. Our first impression is no longer our church doors. If anything, that is an extension of our new first impression – our website. So, what’s this whole landing page thing?

Our church home page is by all definitions, our “landing page” and new “first impressions” front man. The church website is the new front door. If your church can’t be found on Google’s first-page search results, does it exist? I’m sure it does, but not to those who don’t bother to keep on searching, which is most of us.

The truth is that your church homepage/landing page, should be:

  • fast to load
  • designed well
  • easy to navigate
  • easy to share information
  • designed for the non-church member
  • but have all required information for the uber member in mind
  • consistent in the brand throughout the entire site
  • With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that most church websites are designed with much prayer in mind. “Let’s pray it works.”

“It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant

I’m not really into football, but Paul Bryant’s quote above easily wins in web development and really in all things, you know – “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.”

We have weekly greeter meetings. Weekly service planning meetings. Why not weekly web development/content management meetings?

Some churches have this down, the successful churches know this and all churches should begin to “know this” too.