Our Top 7 Cringe-Worthy Church Website Design Mistakes

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Are there certain websites you dread going to? Like your local library’s website that hasn’t been updated since 2003 or your son’s little league website that makes it impossible to find the schedule?

Bad designs lead to bad user experience. And if someone is frustrated with your website, they’ll leave—it’s as simple as that. Don’t let your poorly designed church website scare away potential visitors. Avoid these seven cringe-worthy design mistakes:

1. Designing Your Website For the Wrong Audience

If someone reaches your website and they don’t feel like they belong, they will leave—which is why determining your audiences and catering your content to them is so important.

Your church members aren’t the only one using your website. If it’s all about community groups and Sunday service and everything for only church members, new visitors may feel disinterested or like they don’t belong.

As important as it is to make newcomers welcome inside your church building, it’s equally important to make them feel welcome in your virtual church.

When you’re designing for visitors, you’ll want to ensure the following information is clearly visible and easy to find on your website:

  • Service times
  • New visitors section
  • Location
  • Contact information

Because you and your church members already know this information, it can be easy to overlook. However, if you want new visitors to your site to also be visitors to your church building, you’ll need to make sure this information is easy to access.

2. Not Having Mobile Optimization

77 percent of adults own smartphones, and many of them use their phone to access the Internet. Since most people will use their phones to access your church website, don’t make them have to squint at their screens or zoom in! If your website is not optimized for mobile users, you risk losing visitors on your website, which could translate into losing visitors at your church services. In addition, a mobile-friendly website will help:

  • Your website will get a higher Google ranking
  • Decrease your bounce rate, which means once people find your site, they will stay there
  • By going mobile, your website will be much more convenient to use while offering a friendly user experience.

3. It Looks Like It Came from the 90’s

As much as we all love Fresh Prince and Full House, who wants to be stuck in the 90’s? If your church website contains 8-bit icons and too much white-space with terrible Photoshop, it could look like it was designed in 1998, not 2018!  If you want a modern-looking website, you’ll want to check out these 7 Innovative Church Website Design Trends.

4. Too Many Special Effects

Animation and special effects are great for websites as they can increase user engagement. Beware of too many special effects, however, as it can get tacky really quickly. Instead of bombarding visitors to your website with a ton of special effects, use them sparingly and use them wisely.

Here are some advantages of using just the right amount of special effects on your church website:

  • A slideshow can be extremely useful for websites with multiple images
  • The special effect of motion can really catch the user’s attention
  • While these are some great ways to use special effects, you probably don’t want to use all of them on the same page.

5. Inaccurate Images

If your youth ministry staff wears jeans and a t-shirt normally, don’t show pictures of them in slacks, ties, and dresses. Your photos should reflect your true identity. Images of your staff should also be up-to-date. If your worship leader once had a beard with black hair but is now clean-shaven and blonde, you’ll want to get the picture updated. This will help your visitors recognize your staff when they meet.

While stock images can be good options occasionally, you’ll want to include as many real-life photos as possible. Too many stock photos can be a deterrent for potential visitors. If you use royalty-free images and stock photos, you’ll want to double check the copyright. If the copyright does allow you to use the photograph, you may need to give proper credit.

6. Slow Load Time

While this is more of a user experience mistake than a design mistake, it can still dictate your design. Using images or videos that are too large can affect your website loading time. Most consumers expect a website to load in under two seconds, and if it doesn’t, they may get impatient and leave. Making sure your website is quick-to-load can help increase your Google Ranking and increase your conversion rate. Check out these ways you can increase your website’s load time.

7. Not Having an Updated Website

All of these mistakes can be overcome by a diligent website visitor. However, the only mistake that you can’t overcome is summed up in the catch-all phrase “not up to date.” There can be nothing more frustrating than checking out a church website only to find outdated content. When someone visits your website, they want to know which small groups are taking place now, not last winter. It’s simply not enough anymore for the pastor to update their congregation by making announcements or by including changes in the weekly bulletin. It’s an absolute must for the website to be updated, especially for churches who are searching for more visitors.

Next Steps

Your church’s design speaks volumes about your church—you don’t want to have someone take a glance at your homepage and think, “Oh, my…” (in a bad way). Everybody has their own list of cringe-worthy design mistakes that we may have missed on this list. As you start designing you may think of your own, too.

Still feel like you need extra help? Take a look at our available templates here!

Top 4 Metrics for Your Church Website

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So, your church has a website. That’s great, but is it working for you?

The only way you can really answer that question is through data. Just as you do in your church with metrics such as attendance, if you want to get the most out of your website, you should be keeping up with certain data points so that you can be sure that your site is doing its job for your church. This type of data is more formally known as Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. The specific KPIs that your church tracks depends largely on the goals your ministry team has for the website, but here are four smart KPIs you can start with.

1. Most Viewed Pages

This number will provide clear insight into what your online visitors are most interested in. If most of your visitors are going to the small group finder, it’s a good indication they want to connect with others. If they are mostly viewing your videos, they may be interested in what services are like. Knowing your most viewed pages will show you where to focus your efforts.

If one page has a large number of views, but people tend to frequently leave your site after viewing the page (this is also known as your bounce rate), this should tell you that this particular page needs work. Clearly there is interest here, but the content on the page isn’t what they’re looking for. Update or change the content and see if your bounce rate decreases.

2. Conversion Rates

Calls-to-Action (or CTAs) are invitations for your users to interact with your church through the website. This generally takes the form of buttons with messages like “sign up now.” When someone clicks on a button like this requesting more information, they are said to “convert.” The more conversions you get from these interactions, the more opportunities you have to gain potential members.

If your conversion rates are low, meaning people are not acting on these calls to action often enough, it could be the wrong CTA for that page, the CTA could be too hard to find, the wording isn’t clear enough, or you are attracting the wrong audience.

By monitoring your conversion rates, you can get a better sense of what offers your members are ready for, what wording motivates them, and what pages they convert from. Knowing this information means you can change, replace or eliminate CTAs which can help you increase your conversion rates and ultimately gain more contacts.

3. Traffic

This metric not only tells you how many people are coming to your site, but where they are coming from and how long they are staying.

Some typical sources for traffic are:

  • Organic search (when someone enters a keyword into a search engine and your website pops up)
  • Referrals from other websites (when someone has a link to your website on their website)
  • Social media
  • Direct traffic (when someone types your url directly into the search bar)
  • Email marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) (Any paid traffic campaigns)

For example, if you’re site is seeing a lot of traffic from social media or email marketing, then you know those methods are successful and you can put more of your resources there. If you’re running PPC campaigns, such as Google AdWords, but not seeing the traffic from them, you may decide to stop advertising on those platforms.

4. Online Giving

Giving is a very important metric for churches and online giving is easy to measure through your online giving platform.

Knowing when, how often and how much your members are giving can help you set goals around your online giving. This data is critical to your overall plan to increase giving in your church.  Use what you find here to try new ways to encourage people to give online and set up recurring giving.

Remember that your church’s values and goals will determine the exact KPIs you track for your website. So that everyone is on the same page, it’s best to sit down with your church leadership team and write down those goals and what type of data will give you the best view of your progress. Once you have established those KPIs, make sure that you check those metrics frequently so you can make adjustments on the fly and get the most out of your church’s website.

Let us help you set up a custom website for your church. Find out more here.