We spend a lot of time imagining what the first-time guest experience is like on a Sunday morning. We provide guest parking and friendly faces to point guests in the right direction. But what about your website? Is it optimized to provide a stellar first impression of your church?
Bryan Rose at Auxano recently gave some great ideas over on the Vision Room for easy changes you can make to your church website to ensure it is helpful for first-time guests. Today I’d like to share with you some of my favorites from his post as well a few more suggestions.
Optimize your church’s website for a good first impression
Here are a few of Bryan’s most powerful recommendations and a few personal ideas for how you can optimize your church’s website to make a positive first impression with guests:
- A Prominent ‘I’m New’ Section. Nine out of ten first-time guests will visit your website before your worship. This means that up to 80 percent of your website users are looking for service times and locations, and very little else.
- Landmark Driving Directions. In addition to a maps link, harder-to-find churches should supplement with verbal turn-by-turn directions noting landmarks like exit numbers, community structures, or natural features.
- Actual Worship Imagery. Set worship style and dress expectations by using engaging, high-quality photography from an actual worship service.
- An Engaging Pastoral Welcome. Demonstrating expectation is as simple as a written welcome note, thanking guests for visiting your online front door. You might even consider a professionally-produced video with imagery of worship and children’s environments and some personal testimony. Anchor all of this content with Vision-Frame language and point to key next steps.
- Active Social Media Venues. Leverage the interactions around your worship, content, and member engagement to draw potential guests to the community. Consider relocating announcements and calendars from your church homepage to a Facebook page that is more likely to get updated and shared by your body. Instagram and Twitter may also serve to bring immediate attention, interaction, and feedback to services or events.
- Create a 'wow' experience with your web presence. Earn attention. Stand out.
- Maximize the mobile opportunity for ministry. Make sure your church’s website, blog, and other online presences are mobile friendly. Most people these days are going online via their smartphones and tablets.
- Learn how to optimize your social presence and avoid mistakes that keep you from engaging your community.
Every outpost that we have — whether it’s a print pamphlet or a social media page — should be geared toward reaching not only church members but also people outside the church. Is your church’s website geared toward people who don’t know anything about your church? Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is looking to learn more.
What are the biggest things missing on your site right now that visitors need?