There’s always one more thing you can do to improve your church website (or any website at that). However, what is the most important thing?
The resounding answer for anything you ever do in marketing or content creation of any sort is…
Know Your Target Audience.
This applies to everything you’ve ever written, said, or done. If you don’t know your audience, then your message, though ever-so-important, will not get to them.
How does this apply to your website?
Your website needs to be designed with your target audience in mind. This begs the question: Who is your target audience?
For the most part, you don’t need to cater to Christians. They’ll quickly understand your church’s website without your help because they’re already familiar with the content. The people you need to proactively help are non-christians. What’s special about designing a church website, however, is that your audience range isn’t global or even national; it is, for the most part, within a 100 miles of your church doors. This means that you can be extremely focused with your targeting.
So a new question arises:
How do you target non-christians in your area?
Here are 3 ideas:
First, you have to speak their language.
This means not only removing jargon (overtly “Christian talk”) but also adding in words and phrases that the non-christians around you will understand. If they cannot navigate around your website because your navigation bar and content is littered with words they have to look up in a dictionary, they won’t be on your website for long.
Second, you have to emphasize what they care about.
In one way, this one might not be so location driven (like the example above is) as it is decided by our overall culture.
For example: Stories have risen as the most important part of society, so you should play it up on your website. You have the greatest stories of changed lives because of a risen Savior, and they should be emphasized.
This doesn’t mean that you accept the Biblical interpretation of the culture around you. However, you can show how God has changed the lives of those in your church and in ways that our society desires their lives to be changed.
Third, you have to offer the correct call-to-response:
The problem is that most church websites don’t have a “call-to-response”. Basically your entire website is meant to sell the concept of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and then following Him together within the local church. If this is the case, then make sure your website has a place for people to respond to what they have read and seen, a place where they can step into action.
Sadly, most church websites that contain a “call-to-response” do so by asking people to give. This is not a proper call-to-response for a church. We are told to give generously to our local church because of a changed heart and life. Sadly, many churches are missing the opportunity to call non-Christians to a new life by sideswiping them with a call to give, instead of a call to a new life in Jesus lived in community.
This, again, is a result of making websites geared towards other Christians rather than non-Christians. Christians need a call to action to give, serve, and grow. Non-Christians need the call to be changed by Jesus and to then be connected to His local church.
These are two different goals, which means there are two different website styles. Neither is wrong, yet I think there are many churches who have one goal in mind, while their website is unintentionally geared towards a different goal.