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Whether you?re about to redesign your church website or you?re set with your current website, you need to have a good framework for how someone navigates your church?s website. So today I?m going to be walking through some principles for proper website navigation, while also showing what that practically looks like from some of my favorite church websites at the moment.

Two Perspectives

You must view your website navigation through the eyes of two different audiences: first-time visitors to your website and current members/attendees. If your church website isn?t serving both of those audiences, you might need to reevaluate.

First-Time Visitor

You must answer the question: What does a first-time visitor need?

Research has shown that first-time visitors to your church website need a couple of different things:

  1. Vital information – Service times and location.
  2. Vision and beliefs – What does your church believe and why do you believe it? First-time visitors often look for this information to see if your church would be a good fit for them.
  3. Social media – Nowadays people want to engage with your church on social media. It?s also a great place for people to see pictures of your church. This will help them make a decision on whether or not they will attend.
  4. Sermon audio and video – Often new visitors would like to listen to a sermon before they attend. This allows them to, once again, learn more about your church and make a more informed decision on whether or not they would like to attend.

So what does this mean for your church?s website navigation? It means that these pieces need to be included in your church?s website navigation in some way, and preferably upfront and easily accessible. That means your primary header navigation should include links to service times and location details as well as what your church believes, social media links, and sermon media.

Current Member/Attendee

You must answer the same question for your current members and attendees as well: What do they need from your website?

Once again, research has shown that your current members and attendees need some things to find your website beneficial:

  1. Events – If your church hosts lots of events and things throughout the week, it?s becoming more common for people to check your website for those details rather than saving their paper bulletin and looking at that throughout the week.
  2. Sermon audio and video – For your current attendees, if they miss a weekend service and would like to catch up on the sermon, they?re going to need quick and easy access to your sermon media.

So along with meeting the needs of a first-time visitor in your website navigation, you must also meet the needs of your current members by including events and sermon audio/video in your primary header navigation as well.

Two Types of Website Navigation

Now that you know the needs of your audiences, you must understand the framework of your website?s navigation. There are generally two types of navigation on your website, so I?m going to briefly explain the purpose of each and how you can best utilize them for your church.

Primary header navigation

What is it??This navigation on your website is crucial because it?s probably going to be the first place people look for things on your website. As a result, you most likely should include here those top 5 or 6 links to meet the needs of your two audiences.

Where is it? This navigation is usually located at the top of your website. It?s typically a header bar filled with links. Although, with the rise of the mobile website, this navigation is usually hidden in a side menu, accessed by tapping a button at the top left or right corner of your screen.

Secondary navigation

What is it? This navigation is a bit less important than the primary navigation, but still helpful to have on your website. When someone is looking for a little more detail or can?t find what they?re looking for in the primary navigation, they should be able to find it in the secondary navigation. This would include such links as stories of people in your church, more details about weekend services, or how your church engages people in your city?? things that are still important but secondary to the things most people need.

Where is it? Most often, this navigation is found at the bottom of your screen when you visit a website. Either that or it?s found in another side menu on a mobile website. It?s less obviously visible because it may contain links that most people may not necessarily be looking for. Hence the name ?secondary navigation.?

Examples

Now that you have the basics for the importance of your church?s website navigation and what it is, I?d like to show you some examples of good church website navigation.

Chime in! What websites have you seen with amazing navigation structure? Leave a comment below with the link and what you love about it.

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