Make your homepage sizzle like bacon!
SUMMARY: When was the last time you looked at the homepage of your church Web site? Go look. I’ll wait.
What’s the first thing you see? A picture of your church building with its name and address? A link to the nursery schedule? A list of this week’s greeters? Oh, no! Is that an announcement about vacation Bible school that was held three months ago?
More than ever before, members and seekers alike expect your church to have a Web site – and a useful one at that. Look again at your Web site as though you were a seeker. Ask yourself, “Based solely on this Web site, would I want to go here?” More often than not, the answer is “no.” Much like the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” don’t let your church be judged by its current lackluster virtual book cover.
Add some eye candy.
Just because your congregation worships in a building, that doesn’t mean your Web site homepage needs to feature the building! Use a photograph from a mission trip, a church get-together or an illustration of how members are changing lives. Even better, feature a photo collage and make your homepage alive and engaging.
Aside from photos, what else should live on your homepage? According to the Church Solutions magazine Web site, every homepage should feature four crucial elements:
1. Provide an immediate, compelling sense of who you are as a congregation in 10 words or less. Use this as your elevator statement.
2. Highlight upcoming fun events and current activities (the key word being “current”).
3. Answer the most commonly asked questions, either directly or through a clear and visible link. This includes worship service times, contact information and directions to your church.
4. Highlight other resources and activities on the site through navigation and other elements. This includes a link to last week’s sermon via podcast. New to podcasting? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
De-clutter! It’s a good thing.
Don’t clutter your homepage with irrelevant information such as prior newsletter copies, prayer requests and meeting minutes. Put those deeper in the Web site. Remember, white space can be effective on a homepage. It helps to break up information and allows the user’s eyes to relax. Do you remember the saying “Everything in moderation”? Clear navigation on your homepage is a user’s best friend. Place elements on your page in a logical and clear manner. For example, you wouldn’t put links to staff members in your footer!
Most importantly, keep the information current. The last things a visitor wants to see are “Last updated on 4/28/08” or “Sign up for the Valentine banquet” in June. Recruit a Web-savvy member to take time each week to keep your Web site current and user friendly. Lastly, if you do not have a church Web site, check out a plethora of Web-hosting options for churches, including E-Zekiel, which offers discounts to United Methodist churches.