Are there certain websites you dread going to? Like your local library's website that hasn't been updated since 2003 or your son's little league website that makes it impossible to find the schedule?
Bad designs lead to bad user experience. And if someone is frustrated with your website, they'll leave—it's as simple as that. Don't let your poorly designed church website scare away potential visitors. Avoid these seven cringe-worthy design mistakes:
1. Designing Your Website For the Wrong Audience
If someone reaches your website and they don't feel like they belong, they will leave—which is why determining your audiences and catering your content to them is so important.
Your church members aren’t the only one using your website. If it’s all about community groups and Sunday service and everything for only church members, new visitors may feel disinterested or like they don’t belong.
As important as it is to make newcomers welcome inside your church building, it's equally important to make them feel welcome in your virtual church.
When you're designing for visitors, you'll want to ensure the following information is clearly visible and easy to find on your website:
- Service times
- New visitors section
- Contact information
Because you and your church members already know this information, it can be easy to overlook. However, if you want new visitors to your site to also be visitors to your church building, you'll need to make sure this information is easy to access.
2. Not Having Mobile Optimization
77 percent of adults own smartphones, and many of them use their phone to access the Internet. Since most people will use their phones to access your church website, don’t make them have to squint at their screens or zoom in! If your website is not optimized for mobile users, you risk losing visitors on your website, which could translate into losing visitors at your church services. In addition, a mobile-friendly website will help:
- Your website will get a higher Google ranking
- Decrease your bounce rate, which means once people find your site, they will stay there
By going mobile, your website will be much more convenient to use while offering a friendly user experience.
3. It Looks Like It Came from the 90’s
As much as we all love Fresh Prince and Full House, who wants to be stuck in the 90's? If your church website contains 8-bit icons and too much white-space with terrible Photoshop, it could look like it was designed in 1998, not 2018!
If you want examples of what you don't want your website to look like check out these 17 websites. These sites are totally stuck in another decade, and although they still might work for their particular audience, it's wise not to follow their example. If you want a modern-looking website, you'll want to check out these 7 Innovative Church Website Design Trends.
4. Too Many Special Effects
Animation and special effects are great for websites as they can increase user engagement. Beware of too many special effects, however, as it can get tacky really quickly. Instead of bombarding visitors to your website with a ton of special effects, use them sparingly and use them wisely.
Here are some advantages of using just the right amount of special effects on your church website:
- A slideshow can be extremely useful for websites with multiple images
- The special effect of motion can really catch the user's attention
While these are some great ways to use special effects, you probably don't want to use all of them on the same page.
5. Inaccurate Images
If your youth ministry staff wears jeans and a t-shirt normally, don’t show pictures of them in slacks, ties, and dresses. Your photos should reflect your true identity. Images of your staff should also be up-to-date. If your worship leader once had a beard with black hair but is now clean-shaven and blonde, you'll want to get the picture updated. This will help your visitors recognize your staff when they meet.
While stock images can be good options occasionally, you'll want to include as many real-life photos as possible. Too many stock photos can be a deterrent for potential visitors. If you use royalty-free images and stock photos, you'll want to double check the copyright. If the copyright does allow you to use the photograph, you may need to give proper credit.
6. Slow Load Time
While this is more of a user experience mistake than a design mistake, it can still dictate your design. Using images or videos that are too large can affect your website loading time. Most consumers expect a website to load in under two seconds, and if it doesn't, they may get impatient and leave. Making sure your website is quick-to-load can help increase your Google Ranking and increase your conversion rate. Check out these ways you can increase your website's load time.
7. Not Having an Updated Website
All of these mistakes can be overcome by a diligent website visitor. However, the only mistake that you can't overcome is summed up in the catch-all phrase "not up to date." There can be nothing more frustrating than checking out a church website only to find outdated content. When someone visits your website, they want to know which small groups are taking place now, not last winter. It's simply not enough anymore for the pastor to update their congregation by making announcements or by including changes in the weekly bulletin. It's an absolute must for the website to be updated, especially for churches who are searching for more visitors.
Your church's design speaks volumes about your church—you don't want to have someone take a glance at your homepage and think, "Oh, my..." (in a bad way). Everybody has their own list of cringe-worthy design mistakes that we may have missed on this list. As you start designing you may think of your own, too.
Still feel like you need extra design help? help? Download The Church Graphic Design Kit to find free guides, tips, templates, icons, and more!