Whether you’re building a church website for the first time or updating it for the 10th time, you might feel in over your head. There is a lot to keep in mind when it comes to building a truly great church website. But for now, focus on best practices for church websites big-picture guidelines, and you’ll be much closer to a church website that is welcoming to visitors, helpful for members, and true to your church.
3 Secrets of Best Practices for Church Websites
1. Know your audience
While churches should be a welcoming place for anyone, each individual church is uniquely equipped to serve certain groups of people best. If you live in a college town, you’re probably called to minister to skeptical professors and searching students. If you live in rural America, you’re probably not called to serve inner-city youth, first and foremost.
Think about the demographics of the people who are already in your church and the unique situation you’ve been placed in. Think about the city you live in, the reasons people live there, and the special gifts and talents your church has been blessed with. This will inform your list of who you’re uniquely equipped to serve most immediately.
Now, take that list and bucket them into two or three main groups. Those are going to be your “persona buckets.” A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal target audience, and having personas is a great way to focus and refine your core messages.
If one were going to build personas for a college town, he could go with “Skeptical Sam” and “College Cora.” “Skeptical Sam” would be representative of any local college student who is skeptical about Christianity. Events and entire engagement campaigns could be built around Sam. “College Cora” might represent any college student who was raised a Christian but who has recently moved to a new city to attend university. Maybe she hasn’t found a church yet. Maybe she’s allowed new things to take priority over church. Maybe “Skeptical Sam” has gotten into Cora’s head. “College Cora” needs you to find her and help her get plugged in. You can build events and engagement campaigns around her needs, too.
Maybe your third persona bucket for this church would be “Townie Thom.” This persona has lived in the town his entire life and needs to expand his horizons a bit. “Townie Thom” is going to be a key part of your evangelism strategy to “Skeptical Sam” and “College Cora.” So you’ll need messaging for him, too. He needs to be sold out on your church’s mission and vision to reach this city for Christ.
Think about your three target personas and build messaging for each one. As part of your best practices for church websites, make sure your website speaks directly to these people and has messaging designed to engage them.
2. Make key information visible
Now that you’ve determined your audience, try to get into the mind of the people visiting your website and ask, “What am I looking for?” The best church websites make key information easy to find without overloading a visitor with too much too soon. It’s all about balance —and menus.