The right web page elements can connect site visitors to your church’s story, brand, and intention. Keep reading and I’ll show you how.
Are you interested in making sure your website works for your church, but you don’t know where to start other than copying a site you like? Well, that’s a great instinct, but how do you know which sites are doing a great job and why? Read on for the 4 key web page elements every page should have and the 3 pages every successful website features.
I spend my days consulting churches on how to structurally design their websites and apps so they can manage their platforms with precision workflows. In my opinion, having a system of structure allows churches to create content and communications that match their goals.
Success Is Structured
I often tell people, “If we start with structure, we will build content that meets that need. But if we start with content, then everything is content, and everything belongs; from snack time to Bible study history, to the bios of the last 5 pastors.”
Not all content belongs. But how do you choose?
Having a system that influences your content flow can help get people engaged in your church. Ultimately, that’s the goal, right?
My entire process changed when I read an article by Julian Shapirio on Landing Pages, which serves as my inspiration.
First and foremost, you must find a repeatable process. The website for your church is communicating a brand. Therefore, from page to page, your visitors should expect to engage in a way that is repeatable and recognizable. When a visitor knows and engages your flow over and over, they will be able to see themselves as a part of your church.
The elements we’re exploring here will help you connect with site visitors and clearly communicate your story.
4 Important Web Page Elements Your Church Should Be Using
#1: Write every page from the perspective of the viewer.
Church websites exist to connect the church with the people. As a church, we believe we have a story that is worth telling, and that that story can change lives. If that is the case, then we need to know our story is important and should be told because the people that receive that story are changed for the better.
And that’s where we need to start: The changed person.
Every page of our site should read from the perspective of the viewer. It’s all about them.
Go to Hulu.com and take a look at how they are trying to speak directly to you. While you’re there, count how many times they use the word “you”.
#2: Encourage engagement.
When a website talks to us and resonates with us, we want to be a part of that story. The reason is that we can see ourselves better for being a part of the story. Fold your readers into your story with engaging copy and personable pics.
Once a site visitor’s desire has been piqued, they are ready to make a decision:
Whatever it is, piquing your visitor’s desire to connect is key to getting them to engage with your church. Often we are told we need to capture their attention because attention spans are small, but actually —
- People can binge 14 hours of a show
- People send on average 94 texts per day
In reality, people do have short engagement spans — unless they’re interested. Keep them interested with the strongest web page elements and they will stay with you no matter how long your content is.Yes, our attention spans are small. But then how do you explain binge-watching 8 hours of Netflix? If we're INTERESTED, we'll stick around. Create interest on your church's website. Click To Tweet
#3: Edit, edit, and then edit some more.
No one wants to work to see your value. If your visitor is annoyed, tired, or finds your page laborious, your visitor will leave. Make sure every word belongs on the page and adds value.
A web page element that can’t be overlooked is user experience. Make improvements to your UI / UX and retain more of your site visitors.
Church website inspo: 10 Varied Church Websites Using Ministry Designs Omega Platform
#4: Create a clear call to action.
CTA means call to action. In other words, it should be super clear what you want your visitor to do every step of the way. Fill out a form? Plan a visit? Don’t make it wordy, just make sure it is easily understandable and visual.
Pro tip: Use a button, create space, make it unmissable.
Example of the 4 Effective Web Page Elements
Below is a good example of piquing desire, creating an easier user experience, and clarifying message. The site is short, simple, and clear:
- Spark interest and desire with a short sentence and a video.
- Decrease the labor of the user in the clarity of explaining “Grow Track”.
- Build your brand by making the CTA extremely clear. Great job!
In addition to the website elements that will engage your audience, every site must contain some carefully planned pages.
3 Pages Every Successful Website Features
Page #1: Homepage
Your church website is going to be the first place many people will visit. Therefore, your homepage is going to be your most important page.
75% of all site visitors will only see this page, which means it deserves an enormous amount of attention.
Here are a few best practices for designing an effective homepage:
- Speak to a varying demographic of people about the life of the church.
- Communicate your story.
- Talk boldly and broadly.
Your story matters, and it can be a story your visitor sees themselves in. People want to know how they can see your live stream, how they can come to church, what life looks like for them when they are connected and involved in your church. Remember: It’s all about them. Your language should reflect that.Of all your church's website visitors, 75% will ONLY see your homepage. Your language should clearly reflect your commitment to communicating clearly and succinctly. Click To Tweet
How to use story: 3 Ways The StoryBrand Framework Can Improve Your Church Website
Page #2: The Audience-Specific Page
Consider your different demographics. Not ministries, but people groups. Create pages for each group so they can get information that pertains to them without poking around (which produces fatigue).
Use your children’s page to tell what Sunday looks like for kids. Include information on small groups — even though groups aren’t typically for children, there is a child care component to groups that parents might need to learn about.
Remember, when it comes to audience pages, it’s all about them. Tell a holistic story from start to finish about your church according to that specific audience.
Page #3: The Product Page
This may sound too business-like, but it will be helpful to look at the services and ministry pipelines you create as products.
Your Sunday service, your small groups, your membership class: they are all products that hypothetically anyone and everyone can engage. They are church-wide, though they may have specific abilities to meet specific audiences.
Each product will start a person at one place, and deliver them to another. Highlighting how this works generally is a great strategy. The real advantage is also telling specifically how it can benefit each audience.
Using similar flow and concise wording between your products builds brand recognition and trust in your church. Likewise, making clear calls to action on how to get involved will make it clear as to how to take the next steps.
Using Your Church’s Web Pages Effectively
Your church’s website, and especially the home page, can be geared toward the new person. In other words, making sure to use words and menus that are “agnostic” and clear to visitors will be key. A menu item called “Blast” may be branded for the middle school ministry, but may not communicate that with a first-time visiting parent.
This is why my menus tend to keep audiences grouped, and products ordered in a logical, but not explicit, progression (i.e. a folder with New Here, Discover Class, Small Groups, Membership in that general order).Be hypervigilant about using visitor-friendly website language. A menu item called BLAST to promote the youth group will mean nothing to a visitor. Keep audiences together and use clear navigation copy. Click To Tweet
How To Start
That wraps up the list. I suggest starting with your Audience and Product pages first so that you have a really clear picture of all your touchpoints. Once you have these, it will make it much easier to choose the flagship stories and specific audiences to target with your home page.