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missing these could be the biggest mistake you make

Tip #1

Start with your singularity

When I say singularity, I'm referencing the one thing your church does better than anyone else. It's the spark that gives life to everything else. If you removed it, your church would loose its uniqueness. It's imperative that you deconstruct everything you do, down to this one singularity. 

The logic behind this is as follows. Your website needs to have clarity throughout. If you have multiple singularities you focus on, it will feel disjointed and confusing. Here this is the problem with templates: they assume someone else's singularity and applies it to your website! You could imagine how hit or miss this can be if it's not identified right away. 

Identifying your church's singularity will save you time, money, and pain when designing your church website. 

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication
— Leonardo Da Vinci

Tip #2

Identify 3 actions you want your visitors to take

Action is the effect of a clear singularity being connected through informational architecture. To create this result, you should only tackle 3 desired actions that tie back to your church's singularity. These actions should be definable in a few words such as- connect people into small groups. 

Once you identify the 3 actions that tie back to your singularity, you should keep these at the forefront of your mind as you move forward with your website design process. They should be your guiding light. If what you’re talking about with a specific page doesn't accomplish one of these actions, ditch it. 

This step will keep your content minimal and focused, allowing your users to get plugged into your church faster and with greater ease. 

If three CLICKS got Dorothy home it should get your users to action.
— no one, but someone should've said this

Tip #3

Write your content first

This is a big one, and most people don't do it! Your content should communicate your church's singularity and draw users into one of the 3 actions. It shouldn't be driven by design, and definitely not from the need to fill pages in a template your purchased!!!!! 

Content should be focused on the end user, not to your colleague. What I mean by this is you're not describing your ministry from the perspective of your programmatic viewpoint. You are writing to a single mom who needs help, and frankly she doesn't care how your operational chart flows. She does care about how you meet her needs. So write your content for the people actually using your church's website. 

Your design will communicate your church's singularity and drive users to action when it is built around content. The design should illustrate, enlighten, and emotionally communicate your content! 

Form ever follows function
— Louis Sullivan

Tip #4

Design in visual bites 

When you finally get to the design phase, make sure to modulate things. Design in modular sections so your brain can consume the information in quick bites. Use background, color, illustration, fonts, and space to separate your contents points. 

The average user spends 15 seconds on a website according to a recent TIME article. That means you need to get your content into quickly consumable sections. Our brains can process concepts through design much quicker than reading, therefore, use this to your advantage. Use words only when absolutely necessary, because you don't have enough attention span to do it any other way. 

By modulating your design into sections, you will effectively communicate more in less time. 

I’ve got your attention for 15 seconds
— Tony Haile

Tip #5

Bring it to life through micro-actions

I love showing my wife a new website we designed because she gives honest feedback. One day I showed her a new design and she said, "Why doesn't it know what I want?" When I asked her what she meant she said, "When I bring my mouse over something I want to click, it should tell me I can click." Simply said, give visual feedback for actionable areas in your design. 

You should never have to say, "Click here." The user should know it's clickable because they brought their mouse over it and it responded. With mobile you will need to create a pattern for users to follow. Clickable items should have a similarity to them. This could be an icon, color, line, or pattern. Just make sure it's universal across the site. 

Your design should respond to the user. 


Connect with the Author 

Luke Frederick - Founder of Sheepish Design