When designing a website for your church or ministry, you should start with your basic objectives. Ask yourself some hard questions, and take copious notes. What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Who is your target audience? With some exceptions, a church's website has three basic objectives: • To assist those who are looking for a church to attend, whether in person or online; • To keep members up to date on current events, church activities and so forth; • To provide spiritual content to help members grow in their faith.
Depending on your ministry, you may have slightly different objectives. Consider how the ones listed above apply to your own ministry, and write down different ones if need be. You will want to refer back to this in designing your website.
Website Design Criteria
Next you should consider some basic design criteria. This applies to all websites, whether for a church, a business or any other venture. Unfortunately, too many people disregard these factors and create websites that are entirely too busy, cluttered and difficult to use. If your website is not visually pleasing, easy to navigate and above all, useful and informative, potential visitors will leave and not return.
Build your website following these five design criteria, and you will have an electronic showplace that invites visitors to come on in and stay awhile:
• Clean and uncluttered. You should have a good mix of content and imagery, easy to read navigation buttons and one or two eye-catching banners to achieve just the right balance between simplicity and variety of content and options; • Informative and full of helpful content; • Interactive, causing the user to engage with the website; • Interesting and engaging; • Provide solutions, through content, multimedia and/or products.
Keep in mind that even though you are a spiritual organization, your basic goals are not altogether different than that of a business; you want to sell your product, to bring in customers, and grow your business. Your website needs to be fresh, informative, and provide some sort of take away value in order to attract visitors. That takes us back to your three main objectives.
If your website provides information about worship services, it is providing a useful service and will attract visitors who are looking for this information. If your website provides information about church activities, it will attract visitors who are already members of your congregation, who are looking for schedules, times and dates.
Finally, if your website is rich in spiritual content, it will bring in visitors who may not yet be members of your congregation but are searching for guidance. Consider posting videos of services or particularly engaging portions of sermons, written transcripts of sermons, helpful advice columns and evangelical blogs, to give visitors a real taste of your ministry.
For more information on this and other topics, get your copy of "The iChurch Method Volume 1: How to Advance Your Ministry Online." or The iChurch Method Volume 2: Changing the World When You Login or even sign up for the iChurch Method Online School.