10 things you need on your church's homepage
Tiffany Vail, Associate for Communication
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
- The Basic Info: Your church’s name, full address (include city & state for better Google results), phone number and email address.
- Faces. Smiling, happy, welcoming faces that reflect the diversity of members and friends at your church. Remember that your church is the people. While many of our church buildings are beautiful, building photos should not be the only image on the homepage. Directions pages are a logical place for bulding photos. And before you post a photo of your sanctuary when it's empty, think about what message that photo conveys. Get a picture of the sanctuary full of people, instead! (This will also give potential newcomers a clue as to what they are expected to wear if they visit.)
- The word “Welcome.” A statement that let’s the visitor know that you WANT him or her to come check out your church. Include some description about who is welcome at your church, and what they can expect to find when they get there. Don't assume that newcomers to the church know that they are invited to worship - tell them!
- Worship time. Explain what day and time worship services are held, whether nursery care is available, and whether children go to church school during this time. Let them know who is staffing the nursery and church school, and what to expect. Does their child have to be registered to go to church school? Make it clear what the practices are for newcomers.
- A link to Directions. The directions themselves do not need to be on the homepage, but they should be easy to find. Include not just directions TO the church, but also information on parking AND a note on how to get IN to the church (ie: what door to use for worship, for church school, etc.)
(Go to information on how to embed a Google map on your website.)
- “United Church of Christ” – name and branding. With the Still Speaking Initiative, awareness of the UCC has been on the rise. Be sure to let people know you are a part of that denomination. (Go to the ucc.org page of logos and color information.)
- A decoder ring. Give people a way to decode the language on your site. Open and Affirming, Just Peace, Congregational, Federated, Trinitarian - even Christian – are words that people visiting your site may not know. Try to use plain language in place of or alongside some of these words or have a “Learn More” or similar link.
- An invitation to make contact. A person who is thinking about visiting your church may have questions they want to ask before daring to step foot through the door. Make it clear that you welcome questions, and link to information about the pastor including a picture, email address and phone number.
- Links that will allow the person to find out more about your church’s belief system. Do you believe in the Bible? What does that mean? Do visitors have to ascribe to certain beliefs before they can come? Or is it okay if they are unsure? Does your church have a mission statement? It is also great if you can link to the text or recordings of sermons, so people can get a feel for what your church is all about.
- Links that will show your church’s priorities. Doing lots of mission work? Lift that up high. Place a priority on children and youth? Tell more! Whatever your church does, make sure you talk about it. If "history" is the very first link on your page, people may not think you've got much going on today. If a "members only" link is the most prominent, that may send a very unwelcoming message. People will make judgements about the church based on how your website is organized, so make sure that organization properly reflects the priorities of your church.