If you’re building a new website for your church, or thinking about updating an existing one, there are a few things that are important to think about.
First, decide who your key audiences are
Who is going to visit your website and what will they be looking for? What impression of your church do you want them to have?
Most churches have three main audiences. The congregation, members of the local community, and visitors. Community members may be looking for information about baptisms, funerals, toddler groups, or special events – such as Christmas services. Visitors could either be tourists or people new to the area wishing to try out a new church.
Of your audiences, which is the one you particularly want to speak to? Let this set your tone of voice and determine how your website is arranged. It should be easy for everyone to find what they are looking for. Where possible, ensure that your photo choices reflect the demographic you want to reach.
Which pages to include?
Here are five pages that every church website should have to help visitors.
Who are you and what are you all about? Visitors want to know about the people they might meet if they come along to one of your services or events. You can help them by providing photos of what your church looks like.
Make sure that you talk about what people can expect when they come along to your church.
Do you serve tea and coffee? Is there a children’s programme? Is your entrance accessible?
The better you can help potential visitors understand you, the more likely they are to come and visit.
Provide a range of ways to get in touch with the right people. For example, if a parent has a question about the children’s or youth activities, could you provide a way for them to contact those responsible for these areas of work?
Calendar and events
It’s important to clearly display what your church is getting up to, both during the week and on a Sunday.
Perhaps you can create a calendar on your website and add your service and events that way. If not, you could have a simple page that lists the regular times of your Sunday services and then any special or one-off events below.
It’s a good idea to write a short sentence about what people can expect to find at each of these services or events. For example, is your 9am service quieter and more reflective? Is your 10.30am service a family service with a children’s programme running alongside? Make sure you help people to decide which service or event is right for them.
Probably the most useful page for a visitor to your church website is the one that gives them everything they need to know.
You’ll want to have some kind of message, welcoming them to your website and extending the invitation to a service or event taking place (along with where and when those are!) as well as some general information about the church and activities that take place. You could provide a map that shows where your church is located and ways they could use to get in touch if they’re thinking about coming along. Here are some other helpful things to think about including:
- Parking information
- Children’s information
- Service times
- When is tea and coffee served?
- Service length
- Photos or a video from your service
- Vicar and leadership team details
Although it’s not strictly a page, having the ability to manage cookies on a website is more important than ever. Now that the GDPR framework is in place, it’s important to ensure your website meets any data law requirements, specifically when it comes to cookies. You can read more about cookies on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
For Church of England churches, The House of Bishops advice is to ensure that safeguarding arrangements are clearly visible on the front page of your church website. This could be one sentence on your front page, saying: ‘For safeguarding enquiries about our church, please get in touch via our contact page on our website.’ with a link to your contact page.
This is a brief guide to help you start thinking about your website and the people it serves. If you are planning a new website, or making changes to your existing one, and would like more detailed advice, please get in touch with Eleanor Ledesma, Digital Support Enabler.