Your church website’s homepage is probably the most important page on your whole site. For many church visitors, this could be a big first impression of your ministry—and you only get one of those. Having the best information on your church website homepage can be a delicate balance, but there are certain things you should always avoid.
Take our advice and make sure these 6 things don’t live on your homepage!
1. Several Calls-to-Action Above the Fold
While you want people who visit your website to also visit your church, you want to avoid having several calls-to-action above the fold on your homepage. Doing this will alleviate two things: looking desperate and overwhelming the user. If too many calls to action are the first thing visitors to your website see, it may turn them off because it's too much like stumbling upon unwanted advertising.
In case you're wondering what a church calls-to-action might look like, here are a few examples:
- “Join our small group!”
- “Come to our service!”
- “Download our sermon!”
- “Donate to the Christmas drive!”
- "Subscribe to our newsletter!"
While it's fine to have one (maaaaybe two) of these calls-to-actions above the fold, you'll want to scatter the rest of them below the fold and on to other pages of your website.
2. Defining Theological Beliefs
Most churches have a separate page devoted to their core values and beliefs. While this information is important, you shouldn’t put it on the front page. It can come off as too strong or you might scare people away. Having a separate "Our Beliefs" page will ensure that potential visitors to your church will know what to expect before they walk through your door. This content can be located anywhere, usually as a section of your "About Us" page — just not the homepage, just make sure it's written in plain language you don't have to be a theologian in order to understand.
3. Too Much Copy
If all a visitor sees when they go to the homepage of your church website is a wall of text, it can look completely overwhelming. The content on the homepage should be easy to digest. Visitors are here to see your church website, not read a Wikipedia page. And even Wikipedia doesn’t have a whole lot of copy on their homepage!
Too much text can pose other problems as well. If a visitor gets frustrated by the amount of text, and they're not finding the information they are looking for, chances are they'll leave your site. If the text takes too long to load, this will cause them to become impatient and they probably won't bother waiting around for it.
When it comes to creating text on your homepage, here are some statistics to keep in mind:
- 79% of users will only scan a new webpage
- Only 16% of users will read a webpage word by word
- Keeping copy easy to scan and concise while avoiding marketing hype can increase usability by 124%
Text is important to the homepage, but too much of a good thing does not necessarily equal a friendly user experience.
4. Your Church History
If the first thing people see when landing on your church website's homepage is your church history, they might have to stifle a yawn. Unless you're actually Old North Church in Boston, most of your website visitors won't care a whole lot about your history. Until they get to know you, that is. You should find a less prominent location for your history. One suggestion is to add any information relating to the history of your church on the "About Us" page.
5. Pictures of the Pastor
This person is also not the most important thing about your church. The church pastor also may change often, and isn’t the whole heart and soul of your ministry, they’re just a part of the bigger picture. Again, this information would be more appropriate on the "About Us" page or the Staff page. You could even have a "Welcome from the Pastor" page. But it might not need to take up that prime homepage real estate. You should put a photo and bio of your pastor and other leaders on your "About Us" page. This will allow you to tell visitors a little bit about the staff while getting the message across they aren't the most important part of your church.
6. Auto-Playing Worship Music
Never. Never. Never. Ick. Ick. Ick. Putting anything that makes noise on a homepage can be both tacky and distracting. Normally when visitors hit a webpage and music automatically starts playing, the first thing they think is, "how do I turn this off?" If they can't find a quick way to stop the music, they may simply leave your site. I know I leave as quickly as I can.
Some other reasons not be add auto-playing worship music to your homepage include:
- It can cause the webpage to take longer to load
- People visiting your site are not there to listen to music, they are there to find information
- The website user may be in a public place and the last thing they want is for music to be suddenly blaring from their speakers
If you're adamant about adding music to your church website, there are other pages where it can be quite appropriate and even a delight. Buuuuuuut, no matter where it is, make sure you allow the user to press play.