Top 5 church website design mistakes

by Luke Frederick

As 2013 wraps up we think forward with communication. Here are the top 5 church website design mistakes in our opinion. 

  1. Not using header tags correctly and increasing the size of text instead. While this may bring prominence to the phrase in your text, it is out of the design guidelines set by the CSS of the website. Keep things nice and neat by using header tags properly. 
  2. Rotating banners created by someone without a design gift. We understand you need to get things done on a budget, but don't sacrifice the quality of your site to do this. Once bad web banner can hurt your church's brand. This is why we have added web banner design to our monthly packages, so you don't have to worry about this anymore. 
  3. Stealing a graphic from the web that looks cool on a given site... but not on yours. When you are reactive in church website design, it can lead to liking design ideas and trying to implement it on your website. The problem is, your design may not fit the style of the element you are taking, causing your website to look slapped together. 
  4. Poor content. A great website design is only the beginning. You need clear and unified content to bring value to visitors. A common mistake is to have each department head write their own content for the web and put it online. This causes the content to look more like a mosaic than a unified brand. Pick one person on your staff to be the content brand manager and align everyones content. 
  5. Out of place navigation. Sometimes when people are put in charge of updating the church's website, they think their content is more important than everyone else. This leads to the youth group tab being in the main navigation instead of in the ministry folder. Make sure to follow good sitemap architecture. 

We hope these top 5 mistakes of church websites help you dial in your current site. If you need or want help looking at what else you can do to increase the impact of your church website, give us a call.

Do you Value the Connotation?

by Stephen Tisch

There’s a tough reality in our society. Connotations exist, and your website is not immune to this fact. As our culture becomes more and more connected online, it’s important that we understand the connotations our platforms are representing. What is the connotation of your website from the seats of your audience?

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When you value your website's connotation, your online audience values your Ministry 


50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content.

This directly relates to ministries. Think of it this way, if the website is difficult to navigate, interpret and understand, you’re going to lose potential visitors and members. As and agency, we’ve created a solution to help with this. See it in action here. We call it the Mega-Pull. It’s an information architecture that serves up relevant information to a specific audience member in a relevant and effective way. 

More than ¾ of the population is online.

This is your congregation, potential members, community partners, etc. The reality is that the individuals surrounding your ministry are online. Have you thought about what connotations your website portrays to these audiences? 

72% of online consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

As a ministry, one aspect of importance is always community, trust and spiritual integrity. Your website also represents this through things like testimonies, visuals experiences and relevant designs. Your website is often the initial introduction to an individual looking to visit and/or join. It's important that our websites are appealing in a relevant, comfortable and trustworthy way.   

Have you thought about the connotations your website represents online? It's time for ministries to analyze our connotations and online presences. Join the movement here!  

Understanding Passion

by Stephen Tisch

As a recent college graduate (shout out to the University of Minnesota), I’ve been challenged to think, feel and explore many aspects of what interests me. But most importantly, I’ve been challenged to find my passion. But what is passion? What does it really mean?

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As I've - continuously - sought to comprehend this definition, I've noticed that our world has a misguided understanding of passion. We've been conditioned to see passion as the outcome, not the spark. Think of it this way, have you ever told yourself or someone else that you're looking for your passion? Or what makes you passionate? 

I believe that passion is much simpler than an outcome.

I believe that passion is merely a spark in creativity, work ethic and ultimately, the accomplishment of an idea, concept or undertaking.

As I’ve sought to understand my own individual passions, I’ve also learned that passion is simply obsessive interest. Furthermore, passion does not represent or always lead to accomplishment. Passion is simply a spark. It's the beginning motivation, emotion and interest, not some sort of defining outcome. 

Now, I do not dare assume that ministries with passion alone can’t or don’t accomplish great things. Instead, I dare to believe that when passions are complimented with strategy, commitment and continuous implementation, the Churches of Christ can truly thrive. 

I believe that passion is a great thing, but more importantly, it's the start of great things! 

 

May passions spark your actions today!  

Stephen

 

The Internet is changing. How about your website?

by Stephen Tisch

People don’t always think about it, but reflecting on the history of the internet reveals just how much it has evolved the last couple of decades. As internet prevalence continues to increase, virtually every organization has decided to use a website, and the value websites have for organizations - ministries included - continues to increase.

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The Internet: A Communication Platform Distinguished from the Rest

by Stephen Tisch

There are countless ways for people to communicate with each other! However, despite the extensiveness of this theoretical list, it can be concluded that communicating with a website has the potential to be more effective than other communication methods. Using some hypothetical situations, lets take a look at some of the reasons we love websites; especially the connections they are able to make. 

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You Can Access a Website at any Time

Scenario: Jane is sitting at his computer. She just got done studying for a test she has the next day. It is 2 in the morning and few others are awake. she has recently been looking for a new Church to join and is particularly interested about getting involved in a youth group. Upon Googling local ministries, she stumbles upon your Church’s website and after liking what she sees, decides to visit your Church and joins a youth group soon after. 

This shows that you should not limit yourself with communication methods that are time dependent. Once a website is up, it stays up and people can visit it at any time of the day. You don’t want to have restricted hours for people to be able to find out information about your ministry.  

You can Access a Website from any Location

Scenario: The Johnson family is about to move to your community. They do not wait to arrive, however, before they start researching possible Churches they can be a part of. Your website does a better job than any other local Church reflecting what your ministry is all about. As a result, the Johnson's decide to visit your Church in-person. They enjoy their first service there and subsequently become members.  

You don’t want people to have to physically be at your Church to find out information about it. A geographic limitation could greatly hinder your ability to recruit new and potential members. With a website, individuals gain access to information about your ministry if they simply have internet. In short, they can gain this important information basically anywhere. 

Information can be Displayed and Organized Relevantly 

Scenario: Adam decides to go on your website. He is amazed at all of the things he can do on a website. On the site he can:

  • Make a donation
  • View a calendar that features 
  • View a list of staff contacts
  • Read the Church news letter
  • Read about all of the volunteer opportunities at the Church
  • Register for any other Church events
  • Reserve Church facilities

By utilizing all of these different features, Adam knows he can be the best Church member possible and deeply immerse himself in the ministry community. This will encourage him to remain in the ministry. A website is not strictly about getting new members, its also about retaining them.

This list could be a lot longer, but it covers a few of the things that can be done on a website. The wide array of benefits that can be gained by visiting a website prove that there is no better medium to use as a communications hub. It would be virtually impossible to incorporate such a wide breadth of materials on any other communication platform. All of the different web pages that a website has make it possible to have the information well organized. 

Websites can Incorporate Many Different forms of Media

Scenario: Carrie was just on her Church website. To start the visit, she listened to a podcast that was a part of the Church’s recent sermon series. Following this, she watched a video highlighting a mission trip taken by youth. Lastly, she reads a detailed description about a new pastor that is going to join the Church. 

A website can be very engaging! You do not have to limit your visitors to simply reading text. By using videos, podcasts, and other media, you can enhance your communications methods by drawing on the strengths of each form of media. They can be synthesized in a way that greatly connects with your ministry.

Your Church website can be very influential. Make sure you give it the care it needs so your can meet ministry goals through effective communication. Your website can take discipleship, community growth and ministry communication to the next level.