Social Media

One thing for all church websites: Make sure your service times are prominently displayed.
One thing for all church websites: Make sure your service times are prominently displayed. (Courtesy of pastors.com)

Recently I attended the That Church Conference to learn more about how churches can better leverage social media to impact our world for Christ. One of the individuals I connected with was Jonathan Carone.

Jonathan had recently released The Church Template, a low cost website template designed specifically to help churches reach their community.  I highly recommend you check it out.

He was also kind enough to share with me some common mistakes he sees on church websites. I wanted to pass along his thoughts to you.

The following are 10 Common Mistakes Found On Church Websites from Jonathan Carone of The Church Template:

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1. Not mobile friendly. This is likely the hardest mistake to correct on this list but it's by far the most important. Research is coming out saying that 60 percent of the Internet is viewed on a mobile device. Other reports tell us that 80 percent of Internet users own a smart phone. To reach people in 2015, your website needs to be optimized for mobile viewing.

2. Focused on your current attendees. Does your website focus on what your ministries are doing next week? Or does it focus on what the potential guest will experience on a weekend service? Your ministries exist to serve the people already attending your church. Your website exists to attract people to your church. This year 17 million people who aren't regular church attendees will visit church websites. Having information about your ministries on your website is important, but it shouldn't be the focus. Your focus should be on what the potential guest will experience when they visit your church. This leads to the next mistake:

3. Service times and location aren't prominently displayed. I once did an audit of a church website to see which pages were getting views and which ones weren't. The leadership of the church was surprised to see that over half of the traffic went to their Times & Location page. When potential guests visit your site, they want to know when and where you meet. This should be displayed up front so guests don't have to go searching for the information.

4. Inaccurate pictures. Churches do this in a few different ways. The most common is showing something that while true, isn't representative of your community. A great example of this is in your staff pictures. If your kid's ministry staff wears jeans and a ministry t-shirt for the weekend service, their staff picture should be in jeans and a ministry t-shirt. It shouldn't be in more formal clothing. If you preach in jeans and a button up shirt, your staff picture shouldn't be of you wearing a jacket and tie. The pictures on your website should represent the exact thing guests will see when they visit your church on the weekend.

5. No staff information. Guests want to know who will be leading them before they decide to follow. It's sometimes hard to keep up-to-date with part time employees, but your pastoral staff is likely there for the long haul. They should be displayed somewhere on your website.

6. No email addresses listed. I understand not displaying your lead pastor's email address on your website. Having email addresses that lead to actual people are a good thing though. When the only contact info listed is a phone number and contact form, your website gives off the vibe that you don't want people to contact you. By displaying contact emails of your staff, you are telling the potential guest that you want them to reach out to your church.

7. Not enough information. To make their website guest friendly, many churches go too far and make their website unfriendly for the current attendees. I was part of a church that did this and was on the team that made the decision to do it. We thought if we listed the information the potential guest needed, we could have our current attendees go to another website for current events. Looking back, we were obviously wrong about our decision. Your website must be focused on the potential guest but can't forget your current attendees.

8. Too much information. The flip side of not enough information is too much information. You don't need videos and information from an event you did five years ago on your website. Most people will never see that information. With that said, I would not suggest deleting those files or pages from your site. Instead, I would hide them by taking them off of menus. By doing this, you still have them access to the information if someone comes to you and asks if you if they're available.

9. Hard to figure out layout. When your navigation isn't laid out in a way that is easy for the unchurched person to understand, you communicate that their experience doesn't matter to you. To fix this, make sure your menu items use easy to understand. Ask yourself, "If I knew nothing about this church, would I be able to find the information I need?"

10. Large image file sizes. This is the one technical thing I wanted to mention on here (besides the mobile friendly layout). Photos of your church are incredibly important for your website. But yet you have to make sure these photos are optimized for mobile viewing. This means the images you are uploading should be 100KB in size or less. (Note: If it's a full screen image for a splash page, it can be bigger but I would do everything I could to not go over 200KB).

If you have any questions on how to fix any of these mistakes, or if you'd like a free audit of your website, feel free to contact Jonathan and he will be glad to help in whatever way he can.

Finally, Jonathan added these words for pastors, "I want to say thank you. Thank you for doing one of the most thankless jobs in the world and committing your life to impacting the world for Jesus."

Jonathan Carone is a freelance graphic and web designer. He has a dream to resource churches around the world to reach people with the hope of Jesus. With these common mistakes in mind, he recently released The Church Template, a low-cost website template designed to reach the unchurched in your community.

Brian Dodd's daytime job is as a Generosity Architect and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. During the last 10-plus years, he has spent each day having one-on-one conversations with many of the greatest church leaders in America. He also also has over 25 years of church volunteer and staff experience. Check out his blog: Brian Dodd on Leadership.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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