4 New Year Resolutions For Your Church Website

4-new-year-resolutions-for-your-church-website

This is the time of year that people are thinking of new resolutions to apply to their personal lives, but how about considering resolutions for your church website? Hopefully this list of 4 New Year resolutions for your church website will inspire you.

1. Set New Goals

Determine what you want visitors to do when they arrive on your church website. You do not want them wandering around aimlessly, so instead define your call to action and take steps to move users toward that. Make the next steps you want visitors to take clear and easy to access.

Gone are the days of endless dropdown menus (hopefully). Streamline your content so that users are directed to the areas of the website where you want them to go to.

If you want new visitors to attend a service, make sure that service information (like location, service times, and kids ministry) is front and center. Want people to catch up on last week’s sermon? Have the latest sermon neatly displayed on the homepage using the series graphic as a thumbnail.

2. Trim The Fat

Over time we all put on a little weight, and I’m talking about our church websites here! Whether new content and pages have been continuously added, or your website was overweight to begin with, let’s resolve to lose a few pounds.

So often, I work with churches who are more interested in saying what they want to say on their website, rather than what their users need to hear. Example: the children’s director is tasked with writing the content for the children’s page of the website. However, they write about all the finer details of the ministry and it ends up being 800 words. You lost the reader ages ago and they probably got frustrated in the process.

Trim that fat. If one page will do instead of four, write only one page. Rewrite that 800 words into 200 with clear headings and section breaks. Use photos and video wherever possible to better communicate your message. Make sure that the content on your church website is actually relevant to your users and can be accessed in a clear, logical way.

3. Get Fit

As more people use mobile devices to access the Internet, the performance of your church website becomes even more important. Google especially takes page load speeds into account when ranking your website. This New Year it’s time to do all you can to optimize your site for speed and performance.

Internet speeds may be advancing, but the range of devices and connections websites have to load on are very diverse. Let me illustrate: a new family is visiting your church for the first time. On their way they realize they are not sure exactly where your church meets. They are in a part of town that has poor cell reception and are down to a 3G connection. They attempt to access your website to check the information, but it loads very slowly because your page isn’t optimized for speed. What you would think is a simple action leaves a bad impression, all because of poor website performance.

You want your church website to be lightning quick, but you also want to make it look beautiful with full-screen hero photos, video backgrounds, etc. Here are some things you can do to achieve both:

  • Develop for mobile first – This is key to optimizing your site for the vast range of mobile devices.
  • Images – Make sure your images are properly compressed and are the correct size for where you are displaying them.
  • Caching – If you use a CMS like WordPress you will want to utilize caching. This is as simple as installing and setting up a free plugin like W3 Total Cache.
  • Minify and Consolidate – Plugins are great. They give us extra functionality that is critical to the operation of our site, however some plugins (and themes for that matter) have nasty habits of adding more scripts and stylesheets to our pages than we need. You end up making way more requests than you should and slowing down your site. Take measures to reduce the number of plugins you use and make sure the scripts you do load are all minified and consolidated.

There are many other ways to optimize your website, but that is a good place to begin. Let’s resolve to speed it up and have pages loading in under that magic three seconds. Use free tools like Pingdom Speed Test and GTmetrix to test your site speed and get waterfalls of what is loading and when.

4. Stick With It

Your website is not going to magically become perfect over night. Stick with it! Continue to learn and make it better. Keep the content fresh and up to date. If you have a blog, make a schedule and post good content as much as you can. Publish the content your church is already creating like sermons on a podcast. This fresh content will engage your audience, help with your search engine optimization (SEO), and ultimately make your church website more successful.

Check out my last post about building a church website.

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Stephen Greer

Stephen is a web developer who works with JavaScript, PHP, React and WordPress.

He works as a developer for FanSided, a media company running 300+ sport and entertainment websites.