Church Website Design Tips

11 Church Website Design Tips You Need To Know

The website of your church is essential to your mission in today’s digital world. If you are about to embark on a new website for your church then these church website design tips will help steer you in the right direction.

Our years of building church websites give us a unique insight into which website tips make the biggest difference. So buckle up, let’s get into it.

good domain name

1. Define Your Audience

 
The most important task when it comes to designing a church website is first deciding on who your audience is. Who are you making this website for?

In reality most websites are designed to reach multiple categories of people but it is vital you define the relative priority each group takes. You will of course have your local congregation, the community living in your town/city, Christians moving into the area and also people of no faith looking to explore Christianity.

If you want to be an outward facing church then it is generally a good idea to have your website focus centred around the people you are trying to reach. Defining this audience in more detail will help you think through the style of writing and imagery you choose to use. Everything about your site sends a message.

Which audience is most important to you and how can you focus your design around them, whilst still serving the other groups? A good clear website structure will enable this.

Hosting checklist

2. Describe Yourself Concisely

Within the first few seconds of arriving at your website it should be clear who you are. This of course probably includes your church name or logo. Most people expect to see this in the top left or the top centre of your design so going with this expectation is generally a good idea.

Beyond the name of your church it can be really helpful to describe your church community with a single short sentence. Depending on your primary audience the wording may differ but try to convey the main heartbeat of who you are. What is your passion and what is your vision as a church? It can be helpful to avoid overtly insider language here if you are hoping to reach new people without a church background.

Your church name and a short sentence should be enough to give a visitor the headlines of who you are.

Photos and media

3. Show People

Website design is very much a visual art. Clear and concise sentences are important but your first impressions will largely be made by any imagery or media you have front and centre on your design.

The photos and graphics you use on your church site play a pivotal role in showing people what it’s like being part of your community.

In this visual space, that is the internet, it is vital that you don’t just use words to tell people what to expect but also show them with images and video.

Make it really easy for people to imagine themselves in the room, with the people at your church. Showing real people helps to bridge the gap people can feel. Particularly if they could picture themselves fitting in.

If you have the ability to show something as well as write about it, do that every time.

Simple Navigation Menu

4. Simplify Your Navigation

Your website’s primary function is to help people learn about you and discover information that will help them. An overly complex navigation system will immediately leave people frustrated.

The best navigation menus on a website show 6 or less options to choose from. That doesn’t necessarily mean you only have 6 pages. It just means you only show 6 at a time. Any more than that and you start to overwhelm people.

You can make a visitor’s life much simpler by grouping things into sensible categories. Put yourself in their shoes and think what key information they might want. Then make that really obvious.

Even if you have a lot of information to convey, by showing less at a time you will greatly improve the chances of someone sticking around long enough to find what they need.

The main menu should be really simple. You can use drop downs to show further detail or simply nest pages within categories.

For all the detailed links you want to provide on your site but can afford to not put in your main menu it has become common practice to provide more links in the footer of your website. These secondary navigation options provide a much cleaner home for things like your privacy policy, any legal documents and any links to closed church community platforms, like Church Suite.

decision time

5. Choose Clarity over Completeness

Your website is often the initial point of contact for visitors to your church. It’s vital you provide the basic information they need in order to connect further, whether that is showing up on a Sunday or contacting you for more information.

Your website does not however need to provide complete answers to absolutely every conceivable question!

Face to face conversations, or accessing your content is usually a much more helpful way to give people more detailed answered. This can include your theological positions and the details of how you use liturgy. By making these a conversation rather than an essay on your website you will help people connect better.
Your website isn’t the repository for all your church information but rather the starting place. So it’s generally better to aim for clarity over completeness. Try to convey what you want to say in a few words and invite a conversation for more detail or nuance.

This will avoid your website getting cluttered and messy. It will also encourage a real life connection with your visitors.

Mobile first design

6. Design for Mobile First

The majority of all web traffic is done on mobile devices. So before you get too excited about how your website looks and functions on a large desktop or laptop screen, begin with a standard smart phone.

By beginning with mobile, your design choices will be constrained. Wide images generally don’t work as well, you will have to use less text in your headings and speed is even more important.

Don’t make mobile browsing an afterthought. Make it the primary audience.

It is still essential your website looks and functions well across all screen sizes but its vital to begin with mobile in mind first. Make text and buttons big enough to touch with fingers on a screen not the precision of a mouse.

Make sure your navigation has a mobile alternative that still works.

You can check your site still functions well on a larger screen later.

Sunday Service Information

7. Feature Service Details Early

One of the most common mistakes I see with church websites is that people bury key information such as where and when a church meets. For a large percentage of visitors to your church site, this is the main reason they are there. So make it really simple by providing the headlines near the top of your home page.

You can provide a page for more information if needed but by giving the time and location up front you serve people better.

Welcome visitors

8. Expect Visitors

It’s important you assume that your website will have visitors. People who don’t currently attend your church.

Take some time to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they might think or be asking as they come to your site.

If you are expecting people to come to your house you behave differently than when you are not. You prepare for them, you have the welcome mat out at the door. You clean up the mess.
You can signal to any visitors that you expect them by making a specific page for them that is very visible on the home page. Sometimes churches call this “Visit Us”.

This page can contain all the information a visitor might like to know. What are your expectations about dress code? What time do you start? What does the service include?
What arrangements are there for children?

By answering some of these key questions you can put a visitor at ease before they even walk through the doors.

Showcase your service media

9. Showcase Your Content

Your writing and your photos play a vital role in creating good impression on your church website visitors but we have one other great way of building connection.

Most churches record or live stream their services. Beyond what you say about your church, what happens on a Sunday is the clearest expression of your vision, values and style.

By making your teaching and worship content easily available through your website you give a window into your church community that will say more than anything else on your website.

It will answer questions about style, how traditional or contemporary you are. It will give people a sense of how relaxed or formal your setting is.

It will also showcase your teaching, what you believe and whether a visitor can fit in with your values.

So make sure your content, whether it’s audio or video or live stream is easily available.

Design Space

10. Embrace the Space

Very much related to the tips above about being concise and choosing clarity is the embrace of space.

Great designs have space to breathe. It’s not about conveying as much information as possible, at once, but about carefully curating an environment for people to navigate.

In the design world, the term “negative space” is used to signify the gaps, the space around objects. The reason this is important is that negative space creates a sense of peace.

When lots of content is squashed close together it creates a sense of unease and clutter.

Don’t try to fit too much onto each screen. Less is definitely more and having strategic space between items is vital to a great church website.

11. Always Invite Connection

Your website is not the end goal. Success is not measured by how many eyes see your church website. Success is about building connections with the real humans behind the screens.

On your site you want to always be gently encouraging people to step outside of the anonymity that the internet affords and make a real connection. This could mean inviting them to email you or call you. It may be to sign up for an email newsletter or subscribe to your podcast. It might be to sign up for a small group, or an upcoming special event.

Each of these actions is a step towards connection. Your website is no the end goal. Connecting with a real person and building a relationship is the goal.

Through your structure and your writing continually invite people to come closer, by making the next move for them.

Custom website design

It’s Time to Build!

You’ve read the tips, you’ve looked at some other church websites, now all that’s left is to get building your site.

There are lots of ways you can approach this process. We explored the 3 main options and their associated costs in a recent post.

We’re praying for you as you embark on this important journey!

If we can help you build, host and maintain your church website then don’t hesitate to get in contact. Or you can just check out our features here.