This is why you should refresh your website every 3 years
Your church has the most important message your community needs to hear. From a communications perspective, here are the reasons why you should refresh your website every 3 years.
Overhaul based on best practices – and what your audience expects
A grain of sand is pretty small. Put several together, and you have a beach. Perhaps that’s a bit extreme, but it illustrates a point that hopefully, you’ll understand. Some technology and behavioral shifts are so large, everyone takes notice (think the launch of the iPhone). Most are so incremental, we might not even notice them. Over time, they ALL compile. The overarching scope of all of the changes requires revisiting how your website functions in light of those changes. That means updated content, tools, and layouts.
Look at current website best practices and compare how it aligns with your goals and your audience. To be clear, you don’t want to do anything simply because it’s what the church down the street is doing. That won’t help in the long run. What’s best is to leverage best practices to connect with your community.
Leverage video and audio content trend
It’s not just about having photos and video on your site. It’s about having pictures and video that help you to tell stories and connect with people. Driven by the rise of Instagram and Youtube, current best practices for websites – not just church websites – includes these visual elements.
Fact is, it’s the combination of visual content and storytelling that works to show, rather than tell, and makes people feel something. As much as people might not want to admit it, emotion drives decision making, not logic. Most would rather encounter a story than read over a report.
If your church has the resources and your audience enjoys podcasts, it’s definitely a content option to consider. They represent an alternative to music and help us feel smarter or more informed. Podcasts have exploded as a way to connect with others. Just looking at some of the top Christian podcasts give an idea of what’s possible.
Tools to equip your team and guide your audience
One of the coolest things I’ve seen is the increased ability for churches and people to content and interact online. It’s also an area where one can get distracted by all of the bells and whistles.
Texting, message bots, email sequences, automation of all types – it’s enough to make your head spin! Should your new church website incorporate one or all of these tools? Yes. Which ones? Well, that depends.
When evaluating which tools make sense as you put together how you’ll refresh your website, some questions you should ask:
- How tech-savvy is the intended audience?
- What problem am I trying to solve for them?
- Can we test out the product before buying? Or implementing?
- What does the actual process look like and who will manage it?
Be focused on your audience, and the desired outcome for all involved will help to identify while tools make sense to incorporate into your site.
These website, graphic, and communication resources are some that the team at FFM uses to help churches better leverage their website as a part of their overall communication strategy. (Disclosure: Firm Foundations Marketing receives compensation from the companies we recommend on our resources page.)
Refresh your website to reflect and serve the people you want to attract to your church
When a church wants to focus on growth, there are two areas they typically turn to. Young adults/young families, or the surrounding community. Depending on what the vision and long-term growth goals are for your church, your site should be a reflection of that goal.
Your church can do this in a few different ways. Prominently feature the people and ministries you want to attract. Anticipate what’s going to be vital to them. If there’s any kind of solution you can present while they are on the site, do it. This could be child pre-registration or finding out which small group they should join. Those tools we just discussed? Look at how they serve this group.
If you aren’t sure how to leverage your website to serve people, ask! Ask people individually come talk in a group setting at a time and in a place free from distraction and where they can express needs, and possible frustrations. Offer coffee, donuts, fruit – whatever helps them to feel appreciated and comfortable. It creates an excellent environment for sharing their thoughts as you all work to reach people through your website better.
Reflect the mission of your church
If the time and monetary investment for a refreshed website remain a sticking point, consider this. In the current age, your website is a critical tool for OUTREACH and LOCAL MISSIONS.
Directions can change, for better or for worse. In talking with churches with a GROWTH mindset over the last year, it’s rare to hear, “we want things to stay the same.” The website should reflect that vision of where the church wants to grow and have an impact.
Just looking at the homepages of high visibility churches, we can see the following:
- Saddleback Church shows an emphasis on discipleship and community at its many locations.
- McLean Bible Church wants to reach and make disciples in the diverse, sprawling Washington, D.C. community
- North Point Community Church wants to help people understand and live out their faith.
For visitors, the story of what to expect and what those churches is all about is clear. For your church, you can do this by communicating with clarity what your mission means for the community. Showcase what’s essential, based on what you know about them and how your church can help.
Your website serves as your digital communications hub. People come to it for more information, and hopefully, leave it with the information they need or having taken necessary action. Every piece you put out into the digital space communicates how well you understand your audience and how your church serves people just like them.
Putting in the effort to refresh your website every few years improves communications through better functionality, meeting expectations, and furthering the mission of your church.
If this article left you thinking you could use a little help figuring out what to do next with your website? Find out for sure with a website audit!
The team at FFM will take a look and give you back actionable recommendations. Click on the link above or fill out the form below, we’d love to take a look and share with you what we find!