If Worshipers Can’t Find You, You’re Not “Welcoming:” Do A Website Audit

Not again!

I heard a passionate minister talk excitedly and with great pride this morning about his new congregation, so I went to the congregation’s website to learn more.

What I learned is that, if I wanted to worship with his community I would have no idea where to go.

The website has all sorts of lovely words about welcome. It has a nice mission statement. It says, “Visitors, we want to know you!” in all verbal ways.

And yet the front page of the website lists only a mailing address. The site informs me that the congregation is in the midsts of a sanctuary renovation, but nowhere does it say if the project has been completed. I clicked and clicked in vain. One of their site pages was updated in November of 2011. No here there, and no address listed even if I wanted to take a chance on driving to an old address. Another site page about the sanctuary renovation was last updated in 2012. Still no street address.

Nowhere on the site does it specify the location for worship in 2013. Sermon titles are listed, speakers are announced. There is a whole page announcement by the leadership inviting input about when to hold summer services.

But WHERE? WHERE will you be holding summer services?

If the information is on the website somewhere, it should not take a seeker more than one click to find it.

Some tips for church websites:

Your congregation’s first page should have the street address of your worship space so that people looking you up on mobile devices (which is a huge majority of your potential visitors) can input your address into their GPS device. A Google map link does me no good if I’m in the car or have decided at breakfast that I want to come to church. A list of driving instructions is fine, but give me both.

Your congregation’s website should identify the year on the front page. As a frequent traveler, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up to an empty building for a community event that was held the previous year. That hurts.

More images, less text.  Unless you worship a building (hey, we all know a few “Churchitarians,”) don’t feature a solo photo of a building on your front page. A congregation is people. And they should look engaged. And the photos should be good.

But more than anything, and right away, for heaven’s sake let people know where you are.

 

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4 Responses to If Worshipers Can’t Find You, You’re Not “Welcoming:” Do A Website Audit

  1. Peacebang wrote:

    Your congregation’s first page should have the street address of your worship space so that people looking you up on mobile devices (which is a huge majority of your potential visitors) can input your address into their GPS device. A Google map link does me no good if I’m in the car or have decided at breakfast that I want to come to church. A list of driving instructions is fine, but give me both.

    For what it’s worth, we do both on our congregational web site. The street address is easy to find on the main page and on the sidebar for the other pages. This allows folks using a car GPS to easily find the address and type it into the car GPS.

    The text for the address also links to the maps.google.com link. For folks using smartphones, this link embedded in the street address will launch the Google Maps app on Android phones (about 52% of the smartphone market) which will then provide GPS driving directions or turn-by-turn directions on the phone. I don’t have an iPhone to test what it does (something to add to my to-do list).

  2. John Hansen says:

    There are two UU churches in my Canadian neck of the woods. One is its own church, the other rents a space. That one recently made the decision to move from their rental space to a new neighbourhood. For one year, their website still featured their old address until I emailed them and pointed it out. At the same time, in the old neighbourhood, there are still street signs leading visiters to the old place.

    Anyone looking for that UU church would have instead found a United Church of Canada. A lovely place to hang your hat, spirituality speaking, but still…

  3. Pingback: ‘The bathroom revolution,’ and other UU web conversation « uuworld.org : The Interdependent Web

  4. Dmajor says:

    Yes please! Put someone in charge of your website who will be proud of their contribution to the congregation by keeping it up-to-date and well-swept. If only every public organization would do the same.

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