In this interview I was asked about good website practices for ministries, here is my answer (video is above and transcript is below).
There are five good church websites that I can think of: One would be Willow Creek Church. That’s out of South Barrington, Illinois. Their website is www.WillowCreek.org. That’s a good church. That church website has some good things going on with it and I’ll tell you why in a second. Another example is Fellowship Church out of Dallas, Texas. Their website is www.FellowshipChurch.com. The Potter’s House Church; their website is www.ThePottersHouse.org. That’s another site that’s good. Cotton Wood Church out of Los Alamitos, Orange County, California. Their website is www.CottonWood.org. Lastly is Saddle Back Church out of Orange County, California. Their website is www.SaddleBack.com
The reason those sites are good is because they hit on some good aspects of design and functionality, usability, and just information. First and foremost they touch on the top things people are looking for when they come to a church website which is location, service times and contact information. Those are the things that people are looking for outside of the amazing design, the banners, where they’re at and stuff like that. People just want to have quick access to that information; when’s the next service, how soon can I get there, how far are you from me, is there an online service incase I’m not in your area, stuff like that. So, they have a good usability in terms of that.
They also have good imagery going on there. Again, large banners and pictures are good to hold people’s attention. They load quickly; people are usually looking for something to load in one to three seconds, and three seconds might be pushing it in our “right here - right now” culture. They also have good site design in terms of being able to get anywhere on the site in two to three clicks. I believe a couple of them have site maps right at the bottom of their page similar to Apple.com where they have a site map right at the bottom of the page. That helps to get all around the entire site fairly easily and quickly.
The way those websites are laid out just seems like it’s made for the user to be able to navigate easily, and that helps. When people come to a website they get frustrated if they can’t find what they’re looking for. I’ve seen this as well where certain churches try to put everything on the homepage where the website looks like a bad episode of hoarders. You don’t want your website to look like a bad episode of hoarders.
Studies have shown, and I believe it’s up to 70% to 75% of people will look at your website before stepping foot in your sanctuary. I think that’s what a lot of churches miss sometimes. That, in turn, makes the website one of the most important parts of your ministry. It’s the welcome ministry, it’s the greeting ministry, and whatever information they’re looking for, it’s that ministry to them. So now since the website has become that important in your ministry, you should invest in it as such and make sure it represents your church and your ministry in that manner.
People put a lot of effort into their sanctuary and pay a lot of attention to how it looks, how the building looks and the experience of the person when they get to the actual church building, but they don’t pay as much attention to the experience before they get to the building, which is the website. So, when the website becomes the most important outreach ministry of your church and people understand that then you’ll pay attention to it as such.
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.