Your church website simply cannot exist without content. But it's more than just slapping some information on your pages—you have to make sure you're creating the right content and putting it on the right pages, otherwise your website visitors can get confused, lost, or frustrated. New visitors will depend on your website to learn more about your church before they decide to take a visit on a Sunday and stick their toe in the water. But without a solid first impression from your website, they may just venture somewhere else!Here are 7 must-have pages and what to put on them to ensure your visitors get everything they're looking for.
"About Us" Page
While your whole church website is meant to showcase your church family and mission, your "About Us" page is where this can really shine. If you want to make sure your story gets all that extra *sparkle,* there are a few key things you should include on this page.
This may seem like a given, but this is a great place to share the basics like your contact information, phone number, office hours, maps to your church, address, a "contact us" form etc. If you have a separate page for this information, don't forget to link to it!
Your pastor is the face of your church—it's only natural that they get to give an introduction on your "About Us" page. This is an opportunity to share their story to website visitors and give them a warm greeting from the pastor—the one person a visitor is almost guaranteed to "see." No matter who they actually meet, most people will see the pastor during the service. If there's a pastor bio, you can link to that here.
If your church has a history, you can share a short history of your church on the "About Us" page. This can help website visitors see how it has been established, for how long, and you can show how strong the community has grown since day one.
If your church is part of a denomination, this is where you say it. Remember, this page is all about your church and this is your chance to answer the easy questions for a visitor.
Believe it or not, your staff page may actually be your second most visited page, and of those visits 70% of them are first-time church website visitors! These people are interested in who makes the magic happen behind the scenes. Take the time to show your staff some love. This is where these individuals can let their own unique personalities take the stage.
Include a high quality photo for each person to supplement a staff story. These stories, whether serious, silly, or some combination, can be whatever you'd like them to be.
This could be the place where Sally tells what she likes to do in her free time, or shares her favorite quote or book. You can take a more faith-based approach, and Melissa can share her story with how she connected with God and the church. On the other hand you can take a more personal approach. Matthew's photo can be him on his surfboard, and he can share his love for homemade pizzas before talking about his role in the youth ministry.
This page can take many different forms—it just comes down to what works for your church. Just don't forget to include the member's contact information. if you're not comfortable with sharing their direct email addresses, perhaps you want to offer an firstname.lastname@example.org, or a form to fill out to get in touch.
"What We Believe" Page
For many of your website visitors, this may be the most important page for them. After all, they're looking to join a church family whose faith and beliefs align with theirs. This is your opportunity to list out your doctrinal beliefs in a way that's plainly written so those who visit your church know what to expect. Some groups or denominations have a system of shorthand about your creeds and confessions. Feel free to use some of that, but make sure you're still welcoming to those who may not be in the know.
"What to Expect" Page
In addition to the core values and beliefs, new visitors may be curious to learn what to expect when they actually come to one of your services. It can be a little nerve-wracking going to a church you don't know anything about. This page lives on your site to relieve these fears. You should answer questions like:
- What are the services like?
- How long are they?
- What's your "style"?
- What do people typically wear?
- Do you have child care? (People will appreciate this information, trust me!)
- Are there special places to park or other things I should know?
If you want to take things a step further, it could be a great idea to have a welcome video for new visitors. This video can show new website visitors what they can expect instead of just telling them about it. If you don't have the resources to make a whole new video, an alternative could be an example sermon video of a typical Sunday.
If you can record your sermons, you'll want to include a page to feature your archived sermons on your church website. Don't have video? You could do an audio or full transcript sermons page, too! Many website visitors may be doing research on your church before they consider visiting, and sharing a sermon is one of the best ways to showcase what your church services are like. When it comes down to it, what's being preached on Sunday is one of the more important things your church does.
But your Sermons page isn't just for new visitors—this can be valuable for members who might not be able to make it to the service every week. You can find more detailed tips here.
Prayer Wall or Prayer Request Form
Your prayer wall is a fantastic way to not only show visitors how your members help one another, but it's also a great tool to build a stronger connection to your church family. It can be anonymous or as personal as your members are comfortable with. We made one for this past Easter here.
You may need to use a third party service or custom design and development time to add a Prayer Wall to your website. That may come with an additional cost, but, if this is a way your congregation will support and lift each other up, it will be money well spent.
You can also build out a prayer request form for church members, and as you get submissions you can feature them on a separate website page for your church members to see who is in need of prayers.
And, of course, there should be a page on your website for news, announcements and events. Whether you choose to build an actual calendar for this page or have it look like a list, make sure it's easy to digest. You could also have both options to supplement one another. You can find many "Events" Page layouts here. Or a quick Google search may help you.
Tips When Writing
Be brief - Let's be honest, most people who browse your website glance at a page and find exactly what they're looking for. If they can't, they may end up clicking away! When you can, be brief and straight-forward.
Always be updating - For users of your website, it's crucial that it's always up-to-date. If you take too long too often to update it, your site visitors may not find your site reliable anymore and stop using it altogether!
Cross-link related pages - This comes down to usability—As people browse your website, it should always be easy for them to find what they need. For example, if you're talking about your pastor, make sure you link to that bio.
Now that your website has all your must-have pages and they each have all the information a website visitor will want to find, your church website is ready for the world! Just remember, you can't just make it and leave it—always be nurturing your website to make sure it's the best it can be.
If you feel like your church website still isn't in tip top shape, you might be interested in downloading a copy of our free eBook, Getting Your Church Website Back on Track. Learn not only where and how it got derailed, but also how to get it in working order again.