The scenario: you’ve been following your church website’s metrics for a while and they aren’t showing much—there isn’t evidence of an increase in people coming to your website; people who found your website are not coming back to it; it appears that your website is not appealing to its target audience; etc.
A logical conclusion is “time for a website redesign”.
Since this is a resource-intensive decision, it would be great to maximize effectiveness while minimizing the amount of time, effort, and budget needed.
Asking the following questions PRIOR to the start of your redesign will help you do that:
1. What’s ‘out-of-date’ with my current church website?
The first thing is most likely content. When WAS the last time you posted something new? Outdated content is not only a big reason why visitors do not return to your website, it also means your website will show up less frequently in search results. Thus, anyone who might benefit from your website will most likely not even ‘see’ it.
Tip: You may wish to do a serious content update/refresh and measure your metrics for a few months BEFORE deciding to do a more extensive redesign. If you’ve decided to redesign anyway, allow sufficient time for developing content AND a do-able plan for continued content.
Another outdated area is the ‘look’ of your website. Old-style fonts, layouts, and images ‘date’ your website. Old coding can make your website look antiquated AND load slowly. Each outdated element of your website decreases its appeal to your visitors—especially in view of the many, competitive, ‘current’ websites available.
Tip: Consider visiting popular church websites to get an idea of how they do it. Here are The Best Church Websites. Make a list of what you like (what you think will enhance your church website’s branding and vision) being specific: a certain font, a layout idea, a homepage tab, etc.
2. How mobile-friendly is my church website?
You’ve most likely ‘gotten it’ that mobile is VERY important. The statistics bear this out: Half of the world’s population uses mobile phones and roughly 46% of the world’s population uses the Internet.
These days, having a church website which performs well on smartphones is not just a ‘nicety’, it’s an expectation. Websites which load slowly and display poorly on smartphones might just as well not exist because people aren’t going to use them.
Your redesign requirements must include a mobile-friendly website.
Tip: Ask 5 people in your church to access your current church website on their smartphones and write down the TOP 5 things which they found bothersome or difficult. Do it yourself. Use this data when redesigning your website. For more great info on making your site mobile-friendly, check out this article, paying special attention to the “mobile-friendly website check tool” in the Do It Now section towards the end.
3. What are the goals of my church website?
The correlation between your current ministry goals and those of your current church website depends on when your website was first created and how it has been maintained.
Important ‘today’ goals include relevant and precise branding; online tithing; and encouraging website visitors to actively engage with your website and keep returning.
Tip: Many churches find it extremely useful to do a full church communications audit prior to their website redesign. This process is extensive and time-consuming. However, it pays back excellently, reducing resource waste and increasing goal accomplishment.
4. How effectively can I monitor my church website’s performance?
Going forward, it will be essential to keep as close an eye as possible on what’s happening with your website—how many people are returning, how much new traffic is coming through, what are the rankings, etc.
The majority of web platforms either offer built-in analytics or have an integration with an outside system.
Tip: Take some time to make a list of the TOP 5 metrics that your ministry needs to know about your church website’s performance. During the website redesign, ensure that the items on the list will be measured.
A thorough, well-planned church website redesign can be a long process, taking up to a year. Yet, it is to your ministry’s advantage to do it as well as possible, increasing your fulfillment of your Gospel-oriented goals.
Have any ‘war stories’ about your website redesign which will help others do it better? Would you like to find out more about a specific stage or clarify something in the article above? Please leave us a comment or question in the comment space below. We’re up for what’s on your minds.