In an age of instant information, the homepage of a church’s website should have easy to access information about the church. eHow contributing writer Ariana Cherry-Shearer says, “It is important for a church to have a website. This makes it easier to find information and activities for those who might be interested in becoming a member.”
These websites need to be as simple as possible. If someone has to navigate through many pages to find information about the church and its ministries, their interest has already been lost. Information needs to be one or two clicks away. It is a good idea to anticipate any questions an internet user might have for a church. People are generally looking for where the church is located, how to get there, what time the services are, what type of services are offered, and what events the church is offering.
Suggestions for Homepage Elements
Here are five things that church’s may want to consider putting on the homepage of their website to easily answer these questions.
1. Church Address
One of the first things a visitor to a church’s homepage wants to know is where the church is located. This is especially needed if the church has a common name like First United Methodist or Christ Community Church. By putting the town the church is located in will also increase the probability that an internet user will be able to find the church’s website. A Google.com search of Christ Community Church gave about 3,800,000 results. When a tow search Christ Community Church Anytown, USA, that number is cut significantly. This is due to the fact that search engines like Google or Yahoo! search use not only the title of the homepage but also content within the page.
2. General Contact Information: Phone number and general email address
No matter how concise and easily accessible the information on the homepage, people are always going to have general questions about the church. Visitors are going to look for a way to contact the church with these questions. Putting the church phone number and a general email address, like email@example.com, will give visitors the ability to ask any general questions they might have. Using a general email will also cut down on the number of messages the church administrative assistant gets.
3. Service Times/Descriptions
One of the main pieces of information an internet user wants to know about the church is what time the services are held. In addition, there might want to be a description of the worship style of each service. For example, 8:00am Traditional, 9:30am Contemporary. Getting people in the doors at the right time for the right type of service should be key in any church, so these pieces of information should be very evident to any visitor of the church’s homepage.
4. Link to Map and Directions to Church
Although GPS devices are getting more popular, most people do not have them. A great idea is to have a link on the homepage that will take them to a page with directions to the church. Another idea is to put a link to a map from an online map/directions website that already has the church plotted on the map.
5. Events Calendar or Link to Events Calendar
In their, Q+A section, ChurchRelevence.com quoted listed several studies that talk about top reasons people join churches. In the study by Ranier, 25% of people choose a church because of a ministry that they offer. The Barna Group study that they quote says 45% of people choose a church because of children’s programs. The activities/ministries a church offers should not only have their own separate page on the website, they must have a place on a calendar on their home page. This calendar will, of course, list events that are happening. This can be done several ways. Some churches just list activities for the week; each activity listed is a link with a more detailed description of the even. Another idea might be to put a monthly calendar where every day is a link to a list of activities.
Putting these things on a church homepage will ensure a more guest friendly website, better informed members, and less questions about events, times, and ministries.