10 Deadly Church Website Mistakes
Read Time: 10 min
10 Deadly Church Website Mistakes
A church that is alive is a church that is growing, thriving, and using every tool in its toolbox to reach out to people who need to hear the word of God. One of the greatest and most powerful tools in that toolbox is your church’s website. Your website has the power to reach anyone, anywhere, at any time. It has the power to bring new people into your church who will contribute to your growth and help you thrive.
Because of the power your website holds, it is truly sad that this tool is often neglected or not used to its full potential. People are searching for the truth and it is your job to make yourself easy to find, relatable, and relevant so you can present that truth to them.
One of the best ways you can do that is through your website. Your website is often your first impression for lost people on the search for truth, make it a good one.
Here are 10 avoidable mistakes to stop doing now so you can extend your reach to more people and turn new website visitors into new church visitors and ultimately into new church family.
Church website mistake #1: Not designing for new visitors
This is the most common and most damaging church website mistake. There are two main kinds of visitors who will see your website. The first kind of visitor is a return visitor. They likely attend your church weekly and visit your website regularly to keep up to date on events, blogs, sermons, etc.
The second kind is a new visitor. They have never seen your website before. These visitors are typically looking for a new church home or have never been to church before.
If your website’s home page focus is on current members (like church updates), you will lose many potential new visitors.
Yet, if your website’s home page focus is on new visitors (like a call to action with new visitor info), you will not lose any return visitors.
This is because return visitors often have a specific goal in mind. They are coming to your website to find some kind of particular information so they don’t mind looking around for it. But, new visitors are very different. You have to capture their attention in less than 10 seconds or they will abandon your website and never return.
Church website mistake #2: Not having a clear call to action
A call to action is incredibly powerful. In your church service, your call to action may be an altar call or asking for tithes. In the Bible, Jesus used several different calls to action. Think of his words “follow me”.
Why is a CTA so important? People often don’t do things unless you tell or ask them to do so. You will see this principle in all successful advertising. “Buy Now!”
Most church websites do not have a clear call to action and many don’t have a call to action at all. The most common CTA is using a simple button with words like “First time? Click here.” This will then lead a new visitor to the information they need in order to make the decision to try your church.
A single call to action can be the difference between a new visitor trying your church and not trying your church. With this in mind, it’s important that your call to action is the very first thing a new visitor sees and that there are no other elements fighting for attention (like sliders which we’ll talk more about soon).
Church website mistake #3: Not having a center of focus
Many church website home pages have way too many elements in each section. It’s impossible to take in and comprehend 5-6 things at once. “Check this out! Also, check this out and click here! Over here are our upcoming events! Check out the podcast! Kids camp is coming up!”
There should be one primary focus per section or a new visitor will become overwhelmed or disinterested and abandon your site.
Church website mistake #4: Using sliders/carousels
A significant amount of church website has a slider with multiple images at the top of their home page. Each slide has some kind of update, event, etc. on it. This may seem like a great way to keep people up to date, but according to studies, only 1% of people click on or respond to sliders. There are several reasons why sliders are not a good choice.
• They are subconsciously dismissed because they are seen as unimportant content or advertisements.
• Sliders often move too quickly for people to read and respond to.
• Sliders rarely work correctly on mobile devices (51% of web traffic is on mobile).
• Using sliders slows down websites which also increases your website abandonment rate.
• They target the wrong kind of visitors.
Sliders are typically full of announcements. New website visitors have very little use for announcements because they have not yet developed a relationship with your members and are not yet committed enough to get involved in church activities. What new visitors need is information about your goals, teachings, vision, purpose, what role they can play in your church community, and WHY they should get involved. Announcement sliders simply cannot provide that information effectively.
Church website mistake #5: Not having clear next steps
A new visitor needs to be guided. Think of a new visitor as if they are a young child. Without guidance, they will get lost and wander off to the next website they find.
Do you want to turn a new website visitor into a new church visitor? You have to show them how to get there. This means guiding them through the decision-making process of trying out your church.
What do I do next? Why should I visit your church? Why is your church the right fit for me? What is it like to visit your church? What do you believe and why do you believe it? These are all questions you should answer for your new visitor so they know exactly what to do and where to go.
Church website mistake #6: Not using a responsive mobile friendly design
A significant amount of church websites do not work correctly on mobile devices. If your website is not built to work on mobile devices, words will be too small, images will be cut off, links will be too small to click, elements will be too squished together, etc.
With 51% of web traffic being from mobile devices, it’s a big deal if your website doesn’t function flawlessly and look amazing on mobile. If it doesn’t, you are losing visitors.
Church website mistake #7: Not using consistent branding
Being consistent with your branding is extremely important. Each page should not look like you’re on a different website. You should use the same fonts, colors, layouts, etc. across your website.
A website without consistent branding is difficult for people to connect with, confusing, and it shows that you don’t care about your churches image.
Church website mistake #8: Not being easy to navigate
Your website navigation should feel natural to your visitors. If a visitor is looking for something, they should be able to find it quickly and easily without even thinking about it.
Every section of your website should be only a click or two away at any point. There should also never be any dead ends. At the end of each page, you should offer a call to action or lead your visitor to a new page. Otherwise, they may click away without getting all of the information you want them to have.
Church website mistake #9. Not keeping up to date with the design
Design is everything. Unfortunately, a significant amount of church websites I’ve come across still look like they were designed in the 90s.
A new visitor will instantly judge the quality of your church by its design. If your design is outdated, they will assume your church is outdated or inactive.
94% of people will form an instant negative opinion of your church if your website is poorly designed or outdated. 46% of people say a website’s design is the NUMBER ONE criterion for determining the credibility of the organization
If your website design hasn’t been updated in 5 years, it’s time for a change.
Church website mistake #10: Not optimizing for search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is how people find your website. When someone searches on Google (or any other search engine), they are given countless pages of results. As an example, someone could search for “Churches in (my city, my state). Websites with good SEO will rank higher up for the keywords that were searched. Websites with bad SEO will rank on or after the second page.
75% of people don’t look past the first five results on the first page and 91.5% of people don’t look any further than the first page of results. This means if your website is not optimized for search engines, it’s likely your website will not be found through searches.
Take a look at where your website ranks by searching “Churches in (my city, my state). If you aren’t on the first page, you only have an 8.5% chance of being found.
Bonus: Using Christian Jargon (A.K.A. Christianese)
“We’re a Gospel centered church craving an intimate relationship with God. We want to be a light to the world. Come this Sunday for fellowship and let us love on you. #blessed”
Seriously? No one understands what you’re saying. Keep it simple and use terms people outside the “Christian circle” can understand. After all, your church website should be a tool for communicating with people who have never gone to church. Not just those who are already in the “circle”.
Did you find any of these 10 mistakes on your church website?
If so, it may be time to make some changes.
Need help with your church website?
Let’s set up a quick chat to find out if we’re a good fit for each other.
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