I was driving down a city street in a school zone and a Police Officer was directing traffic. He had 8 lanes of traffic and his arms were swinging with various gestures in various directions. I thought he was telling the lane next to me to stop and for me to go. I was wrong.
No one wants to interpret signals incorrectly.
Fortunately, the police “allowed” me to proceed and no one was hurt.
A church has their website out in the internet fast lane with the intention for people to discover it and be compelled to attend. But instead, some church websites scream STOP even when the words on the page say GO (to the church).
Mostly, your website is for internal communication; but it must be set up properly so that the seeker going to your site feels welcome. You don’t want your church website to be a barrier to their attendance.
Here are 4 ways to make sure you’re signaling the right thing to visitors:
- Connect the church web experience to your actual church experience. Many churches use template websites that don’t look at all like the church. They don’t look like the church, sound like the church or interact like the church. A brand disconnect happens when a visitor enjoys a web experience but doesn’t have the same experience when they arrive on campus. Try to mimic your brand in both places. Almost everyone who attends your church for the first time will have seen your website before the visit.
- Ensure your church website has a visitor area. On your home page, be sure to have a specific area clearly directed to visitors. They want to know what to wear, what to expect on campus, where to park, service times, and if there are important things that will help their experience. They’d also like to know who’ll help them on campus (and a number to call if they want to talk to someone before their visit). The more helpful you are online, the more they’ll anticipate the helpfulness on campus. Ensure it happens that way.
- Think like a visitor for your whole church website. Most visitors will look around your site to see what “really” goes on. Make sure the visitor doesn’t encounter internal language that makes the church feel like a closed community. Simplicity attracts; complexity drives people away.
- Connect through the web but don’t expect them to go. Yet. Sure, you want every website visitor to engage in order to attend your services. Except, you should try to develop a long-term online engagement first. Get them interested in your solutions. Consider simple e-books, tip-sheets, and informational pages that can be shared or downloaded. Once your community discovers your value online, they’ll decide (later) to attend. And the more they engage with your online solutions, the more they’ll understand your purpose and mission before their first visit.