You know how essential it is to engage your members with your church website. It’s a powerful tool that allows your congregation to connect to other members, give online, see a community calendar, and even register for events. But now it’s time to ask––how easy is your site to actually use?
Your content is so important, but if your real audience finds it tedious or complicated to use, they won’t come back. It may as well be a map with no key. This may lead to a lack of community, slower service attendance, and less overall involvement. Your site gives your congregation a way to engage with the church online––but the usability is what’s going to make your site an online gathering place.
The easiest test to know if your website is simple enough is really quite simple, itself. Turn to your homepage. Ask a friend who’s never visited the site what things they might click. If there’s more than one answer here (or that answer is “um, maybe this, this, or this?”), your user experience––UX––may need work.
5 Areas to Make Your Church Website More User-Friendly
1. New Here
To grow your congregation, you’ll need some kind of clear path for viewers who are new to the congregation, right on the main navigation to catch their eyes.
Here, they should find:
- Your overall belief or mission statement
- What to expect if you’re new, like service times, a possible video introduction to the church, a map with directions to your specific address, and what to wear
- If you offer childcare service, this is the first place a parent should see how to take advantage of it
- Include past sermons and resources to give them an idea of what messages they might hear
2. Event Forms
Event registration forms will ensure the data stays organized in one place (versus paper forms) and allows you to keep more real analytics and information about your congregation. In short, online event forms help you better plan activities. But what is the experience for the user as-is? How can you refine everything you’re asking for? And are you keeping it focused on the form? If not, you risk looking disorganized––which is a bad message to send to someone who wants to attend an event.
Placement is key when advertising how to get to an event registration form. You may be promoting an event on the homepage, but is there a CTA to let them know how to sign up?
The general rule of thumb for event registration is simple: Don’t make them search for something on the website for more than 20 seconds. Make it clear, easy, and ask for only what you need to know.
See more form-creation tips to dive deeper into best practices.
3. Small Groups
As a congregation member, you want to connect with similar demographics––real people. Small groups are the place to do so! A potential small group member should be able to quickly search by categories that might help them find a good group fit: location, age, stage of life, or meeting place.
Jumping right into meeting other members can be one of the scariest things if you’re trying to get involved and feel comfortable, and your site should make it simple and welcoming.
Finding the information is half of the battle. But what are the next steps? Where do they meet? Is there someone to contact if they have a change of plans? Your UX should tackle this before the user even needs to ask the questions.
Eaglebrook Church is a great example of increasing small group attendance by making finding the right fit easier:
4. Online Giving
To increase your online giving, your site will need to have it displayed so that interested viewers can find it––without being pushy. There’s no need to hide it, but it shouldn’t be more than a few places on the entire site so as to not be repetitive.
Think about the user experience here. Is your online giving form easy to fill out? Do people understand why they should give with a quote or statement from someone who has seen the impact? Do you use PayPal-integrated or another common, simple online payment system that doesn’t charge many fees? What are the next steps for your giver––a thank-you page? An option for recurring donations? A statement on how to update their giving information in the future, like their email or credit card number?
This may seem like a lot of interrogation, but it’s important to think through your own personal process of making a purchase or donation online. Plan to design your church website around the potential questions you might have.
The Village Church is a good example of an online giving page with a clear purpose:
5. Displaying Resources
Make your resources easy to find, engaging, and exciting for returning congregation members. You want to be like a library of information: welcoming to return to, and great for learning and growing. Include past sermons, possibly in a sermon series, or in an organized format––by topic or by date (to be chosen by user). If you live-stream services, be sure to ask yourself a few things: Is there a countdown so people know when it starts? Do they have to hunt for it? Think about what your congregation really wants to see, and provide it for them.
Even when your members leave the site, they may still want to engage with you. If you don’t already have a podcast, consider how mobile and personal they can be. If you do, is it easy to subscribe to? Where do they go to download? How often should they expect it?
The Village sermon series and podcast are a good example of using organization, links, and subscription indicators: