3 strong reasons to have a visitor-focused website
Whether you’re on the fence or need some outside perspective to help make the shift to a visitor-focused site, here are three reasons why it’s so important.
1. Heart: Having relevant visitor information shows them that you care about them before you even meet them.
Ever go to a party where you know maybe one person, and within a short time, find yourself talking with new people and feeling that sense of relief? “Yes, these people GET me!” Researching churches can feel like that. No matter what the questions are, people want to know if they will feel comfortable and accepted when they walk in your doors.
What someone is looking for can vary by person, family situation, and where they are in their faith journey. Your church can’t be everything to everyone, nor does your church have to be. That’s one of the great things about the body of Christ, all working together to spread the gospel message.
Typical questions you’ll want to address and make sure is prominent:
- Your church name and address
- Sunday worship times
- How to dress
- What services are like
- Offerings for children, where are they during worship services, pre-registration information, etc.
Photos and video can SHOW rather than TELL much more effectively than lots of words and is an area where you should invest the time and perhaps money if possible.
2. Reality: It’s an early part of a visitor’s journey to finding a church home.
When you plan something significant for your life, where do you turn? The internet. Social pages. You go to digital resources first to get a feel for things. Are you buying a house? Check out any number of real estate sites. Are you determining your next vacation destination? You may ask friends, in real life or post it on your Facebook page, and have a shortlist of places to research on your favorite travel sites. If 87% of people start their journey online just for shopping, you can believe that they’ll go online to research something as impactful as potential churches to visit.
For better or for worse, people are online gathering information. We do this from everything to finding a plumber to trying to find new shoes.
Potential visitors will look at your website long before they step foot in your church. To get a fresh perspective, pull together a focus group of 5-8 people who DON’T go to your church and ask them to find specific information on your site. For example, you can ask them to find a small group, the address, determine the music style or what people wear. On a scale from 1 to 5, how easy was it? How many clicks did it take?
Having your site optimized for mobile also puts the visitor first. How so? Two of the biggest digital players, Google and Facebook, have heavy mobile usage. Here are some eye-popping stats for you:
- 60% of Google searches are done on mobile devices, and Google captures 95% of all mobile search queries.
- 88% of Facebook users access the social media platform through mobile devices.
A person searching for your church likely uses Google or Facebook to find out more information, and if they like what they see, will also likely click through to learn more.
To have your pages mobile-ready, look at it on your smartphone to see what the experience is like. Font size, space, and other issues will likely come up that can be adjusted. Keeping page speed low also helps a ton, which you can do by optimizing images, or by using a tool like ShortPixel to do it for you. We use ShortPixel for this purpose and is one of our recommended affiliate partners.
3. The Great Commission: It’s a part of our calling. And it starts online.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The shift to digital has occurred. People are spending more and more time in front of screens. And that’s where we should go, too.
Those first steps on the journey to baptism or the next stage of their discipleship no longer start when someone sets foot within your doors. They start online. Fortunately, much of what the church has done in person can be mirrored on your website.
Have wonderful, warm people greeting people on Sunday mornings? Have a video showcasing the joy and energy of your church family when the generations are together in fellowship and worship together.
Have signage up near the front pointing the way to the nursery? Have a button on your home page that links parents and caregivers to information about your children’s ministry.
A visitor-focused site keeps the faith journey in mind and strives to make new people feel welcome, just like they will when they come to visit for the first time on a Sunday morning. (Side note: If the Sunday morning experience needs a little work, leadership may need to work towards getting hearts to say, “I will.”)
Whether your church ultimately baptizes them or walks with them through discipleship, those first steps are taken online. Guide them on the journey.
Think your site needs to be more visitor-focused? Here’s how to get started.
Take a look at your homepage, both on desktop and on your phone. Can you quickly find information about Sunday services? Street address? Put yourself in a visitor’s shoes and see if you can quickly answer those questions.
Identify what needs work by enlisting people without ties to your church on how easy (or hard) it is to find specific information.
Your site might need a few tweaks, or if it’s been a while, it can be “broken.” Help is available! Fill out the quick form below, and you’ll get an audit back from us within two business days. You’ll have expert advice from our team on what needs attention and recommendations on how to move forward. In this together with you to spread the gospel in your community!