We don’t have to stress the importance of having a website – that’s a given in today’s society. What many fail to realize is that just because you have a website, doesn’t mean your website is effective. Sadly, many churches and ministry leaders are overlooking 6 website effectiveness killers.
Slow load time
The vast majority of people will not wait longer than 3-5 seconds for your website to load. If your website is guilty of slow load time, then here’s the unfortunate truth — your church is losing potential guests.
Here’s a couple of ways to get a realistic reflection of your website: 1) open your website on a device or in a web browser that you have not used in a while or 2) open your website in a private or “incognito” tab/window. Both of these methods load your website without cache or cookie data which is information your web browser stores about previously visited websites so that those websites load faster in the future. The two methods above work around the cache/cookies to give you an accurate representation of how your website loads for first time visitors.
If your website load time exceeds 5 seconds, either contact your hosting provider to see if they can suggest a solution to speed up your site or keep reading because several of the remaining problems could also be contributing to your website’s slow load time.
If your website is still scrolling banners for the 2014 church picnic, you are sending a message to website visitors that your church doesn’t care. This example may be extreme, but even if information is just a few days out of date, you could be sending the wrong message to your community. Always keep in mind that if you put time sensitive information on your website (such as event announcements), you must remember to remove it the moment it is has expired.
Your website is an avenue to reach your community, not a billboard for those who already attend your church, or at least that’s how you should be using your website. Not only does this philosophy make your website more effective in bringing people to your church, but it also makes it easier to keep your website current.
Before adding information to your website ask, “Does this pertain to people who do not attend my church?” For example, information regarding your Easter services is completely relevant to your entire community and should be added to your website. However, an announcement about an upcoming volunteer appreciation dinner may not be so relevant to people outside of your church.
When you only add community relevant information to your website, your website remains appealing to visitors and is easier to maintain.
Lack of backend maintenance
Even though no one sees the backend of your website, its maintenance is as vital as that of the front end. Your CMS, plugins, themes, widgets, etc. have to stay updated. If you’ve chosen to automate this process, you still have to check in on the backend periodically because from time to time updates can actually contain glitches that could harm your website. This lack of maintenance could also be a big contributor to slow website load time.
We will look at the other three killers in a later post. For now, check on your website and ensure it is free of these issues. If your site is experiencing more than one, you may want to consider having a full redesign of your site. Check out what Must Increase Media has to offer in the area of websites.