7 Reasons Why You Should Update Your (or your church’s) Website Now

by vernsanders on June 7, 2011

No posts last week, because I was doing long days trying to get the big website re-design project actually launched (click here to see the results). It took way more time than I expected, start to finish, but the benefits are already clear. So I’ve been thinking about websites lately, and why your (or you church’s) website is probably out of date.

Why would it be out of date? Let me count 7 Reasons Why you need to update:

  • Your contact information is out of date, not visible, or non-existent

Believe it or not, your contact information is probably not clear.  If you have a brick and mortar presence, as most churches do, you absolutely need to have your location and hours of business (i.e. when your worship services take place) ON THE HOME PAGE (sorry to shout…but I find it amazing that most church websites don’t have this information on their home page). This is Rule #1. The information probably should be on every page, but if people have to click more than once, forget it.

  • Your leadership information is out of date, incomplete, or non-existent

Have you changed staff in the past 6 months? Does your website still list someone in leadership that hasn’t been a part of your ministry for 2 years? And this is my pet peeve…do you list your staff, but NO WAY TO CONTACT THEM? (I’ve got to quit shouting…sorry…) What? You don’t want people to engage with your leadership?

I understand if you have staff members who for one reason or another need to have a firewall between the general public and themselves. But everybody? What does that say about your openness, friendliness, or just plain caring? Not to mention, what if somebody in your congregation needs to contact you in an emergency? I know that many (most?) small churches have an implicit expectation that everybody knows how to reach you, but what if that emergency is from somebody who is reaching out to you as a church?

  • You have pages on your website that say “under construction” (and perhaps have been that way for months? or years…?)

Take them down. I know you got that website template free (or your volunteer who “designed” the website did, and they left the church some time ago), but figure out how to take those pages down. Why? Because it communicates “nothing happening here…move along…”

  • You have no idea what SEO means, and your website hasn’t been re-designed for at least 2 years

Most website templates (and independent designers will take care of this as part of the process) now come with much better “built in” SEO tools. You need to implement this. Trust me. If google doesn’t know who/where you are, it is likely nobody else on the web will either.

  • Your ministry has changed

Yes it has…you’ve grown bigger, or smaller, or started a new program for people who quilt, or are renting space to the public. If something changes, you need to update your website to let interested people in the community know about it.

  • You want your ministry to change

This may seem strange, but the new web means more interaction, more conversation…in short more social (as in social networking…you and/or your church have a facebook page, right? and a twitter account?). The way to engage people in your community is to give them a way to engage with you (see staff contact rant above). Run a poll or survey on your website’s home page, and even if it only has 5 responses, change it at least once a month. Offer a way for people to comment by adding a blog to your website…yes it is a lot of work, but there is no better way to let people know who you are or what is important to you in that kind of detail. And follow up on those who respond.

  • Your website is not optimized for access by mobile devices

If it isn’t, then you are cutting yourself off from a very large segment of the population who now access websites primarily from their smart phones. If your website is clunky, loads slowly, or otherwise impedes their progress, they are gone.

Think of your website like your brick and mortar parking lot. If you don’t update your website regularly, it is like letting your lot fill up with abandoned vehicles, and then wondering why nobody ever visits. Your website can actually function like a parking lot with no borders…imagine that…

How’s your website? What cool things are you doing with it? Please leave a comment and let me know.

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