Six features that should be on your church website in 2016
As a web designer, I see tons of posts regarding the latest visual trends on websites. The reality is that most churches cannot keep up on every new fancy thing the hippest websites are doing, nor should they.
However, beyond the trends that seem to change every few months, there are some website features that have been around for a few years and are not going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s a list of six features that should be on your church website in 2016.
Though technically not something to have ON your website, having a mobile friendly website is a must. Sadly, most church websites still have not implemented this. As I’ve written before that not being mobile can hurt your SEO as well as your overall user experience. Mobile friendly websites have been on the rise these past 5 years, and have now become a standard, so there is no reason why every church shouldn’t be mobile friendly. If you're needing guidance in this area, here's another post I've written that talks about 5 defining features of mobile friendly websites.
An audio podcast for your sermons
Technology has reached a point where every church should have a podcast. It’s so easy to record your sermons, and so cheap to have them available online, that there’s no excuse for missing this opportunity to have your sermons available as a resource. This can benefit 3 main groups of people:
- The members of your church who miss a Sunday
- People who are new or interested in coming who want to hear how you teach the Bible
- People around the world who like your sermons and want to continue to learn and grow from your teaching
Having a sermon podcast is simply a win-win for everyone, and it only takes 30 minutes of time each week to put online.
A written blog
In addition to your sermons, another way you can teach and equip your congregation is by having a written blog. The content could vary from mid-week Bible study notes, to a more in-depth look at one point from your sermon on Sunday, or an entirely different train of thought from your regular studies. You can even use your blog to recap church events or outreaches in order to encourage the people in your church with all God is doing.
Having a blog on your church’s website has multiple benefits:
- Increased SEO. If the blog is on the church’s website and not on a pastor’s separate website, this will increase the likelihood of your church website showing up in online searches.
- Topical/Teaching resources. People are always seeking answers to life’s questions, and wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to have 500 blog posts (after a few years) as a resource that can speak into life’s unchanging issues?
- Constant engagement. We are told to “encourage one another daily” yet so many Christians leave their faith to a few hours on Sunday. We can break into their normal life by speaking truth to them, via blog posts, on any day of the week.
Email Subscription Options
Every church should be utilizing email in 2016. Social media is great, but always in flux. The two things that are not going anywhere are websites and email. Sadly, many churches don’t utilize weekly or monthly email blasts to communicate with their congregations. Often, those who do make it extremely hard to join their email list. Don’t make it difficult for people, because getting someone’s email is the easiest way to gain longterm communication - create an easy signup form on your website today!
Clickable contact links
Simply having your email address, phone number, or physical address is a good start, but it’s a huge step forward to have each of these options to be clickable. One click response is not new, and will be extremely appreciated by your website users. If you’re not already doing this on your website, here’s how you can:
For email addresses, you merely add a url to the address that starts with “mailto:”
For example, to make my email clickable (email@example.com) I make the url for the text: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
For phone numbers, the url is your phone number with tel: in the beginning. For example, my business phone (561-749-9046) url would be: tel:5617499046
For physical addresses, I find the easiest option is to search for the address in Google Maps and then use that url as the address link.
Fillable contact forms
Just as clickable contact links allow for easy access to contact information, having fillable contact forms removes the unnerving view of a blank new email. Having a couple pieces to fill out, rather than writing an email from scratch, will increase your visitor’s response dramatically. However, make sure you keep your contact forms to only a few fillable sections to keep people from getting overwhelmed.
For more help...
You can read more about how you should use contact forms, and other sections of your website by reading my FREE ebook, the top 10 problems on church websites.
And if you’re struggling with including these things, and more, on your website, I specialize in designing church websites on Squarespace and would be happy to talk to you about your website needs. You can email me at email@example.com, or view my church website page at www.tnsinksdesigns.com.