Part 1: It starts with your header
Your website is now the front door to your church. It’s great to have friendly faces greeting people when they show up to your building, but if your church website is missing the mark, then you may be missing out on reaching new families and guests.
The truth is, people are checking out your website before they even consider showing up in person to your church service. Studies show it takes 5-8 seconds for someone to decide whether or not they are going to stay on your website– that’s a crazy-fast way to lose a visitor who hasn’t even attended a service yet!
Many churches inadvertently sabotage their websites by making common mistakes. Thankfully, you can fix all of them! Over the next few weeks we will look at the headers on your website, the calls-to-action on your website, and how easy (or difficult) your website is to get people involved.
Today we are going to look at common mistakes churches make involving the header on their website.
The problem many churches struggle with is that they are so close to what they do, it’s hard to put themselves in a first-time visitor’s shoes when it comes to their website. Which means this: You need to explain in your header the value your church brings in as simple terms as possible.
Don’t assume that visitors understand the words or phrases on your website. Churches forget that potential guests don’t spend as much time thinking about the same things they do! Visitors have no idea what your catchy title or phrase means.
I recently hopped on Google and did a search of churches in my area. Here are some of the common mistakes being made:
Mistake #1: Putting the name of the current series or a bible verse as the main header. This could be particularly dangerous depending on what your series is about! Series titles without context can be super confusing to a new visitor.
Mistake #2: Putting a vague or clever phrase as the main header. “Your journey starts here” sounds nice, but as a guest checking that out, I have no idea what that really means or what value you might bring to me and my family if I show up.
Mistake #3: Putting everything on the main page. Churches often try to plaster every single event in the world over the main page of the website. This brings all types of confusion for a first-time browser. They have no idea where to start, so they get overwhelmed and your website drop-off rate ends up being super high– meaning they may never even show up to your church.
So what does a better website header look like? Think about value. What is special about your church and how does a first-time guest experience that value if they show up at your church? Maybe your church values people feeling comfortable being themselves when they show up at your church.
Your header might say something like, “Come as you are. A relaxed place to connect with God.” Along with this mindset, I know a lot of churches are using the header, “Welcome Home.” This is great. It communicates clearly that you want a new guest to experience a welcoming place of comfort.
Maybe your church is really trying to help people know it’s a safe and not-overly religious place to come to. Your header might say something like “A place where it’s ok to not be perfect.” I really like Mars Hill Church’s website from Mobile, Alabama. It says, “Biblical Teaching. Authentic Community. Family Discipleship.” After reading this header, I really know what this church is about and what value they intend to bring to me as a guest.
Does your header clearly state in simple and clear terms the value a visitor will receive by showing up to your church?
If not, they may just assume you are like any other church. But of course, you aren’t like every other church. You are different and bring unique value into people’s lives. Make it easy for them to understand this by stating it simply and clearly in a great header!
If you fix this mistake, your church website will begin to perform better, new visitors will connect with the value you are hoping to bring them, they will show up, they will get connected more easily, and your church will grow!