New research shows that 45 percent of Americans watched an online church service during the pandemic, including about 50 million Americans that didn’t regularly attend in-person worship services.
While some enjoy the convenience of watching an online sermon and others look to plug into a local congregation, almost everyone is turning to the internet to find a church home. From weighing worship styles to deciding if a church’s class schedule begins too late for their toddler’s early mornings, church seekers make over 823,000 monthly searches for “churches near me” as they seek to connect.
Unfortunately, many congregations fail to make a good first impression. Their sites are bulky and outdated or are slow to load and lack relevant details. Most church websites seem like an afterthought instead of the entryway many people are walking through.
A strong online presence is the first step toward welcoming people to your church. As you consider how best to greet them, consider these five must-haves that will enhance your digital outreach and grow your church.
Reaching the Masses Through…
A strong domain name
Location is everything–especially on the internet. An effective web address should match your church’s name and avoid unnecessary clutter like hyphens or numbers. Having your domain name match your church name exactly can mean getting up to 25 percent more traffic to your church’s website. Examples of churches with great domain names include Canvas.church and Newlife.church.
An effective website builder
Your church website builder should be reliable and user-friendly. Having clearly integrated links to frequently used content like service times and locations, worship service streams, and online giving is imperative. Two very effective church website builders are the Digital Church Platform and The Church Co.
Compelling web design
People are visual first and verbal second—they want to be inspired and then informed. Your website has less than 50 milliseconds to make an impression, so be selective about how you engage people with a simple, dramatic, or minimalist design. Your website aesthetic should match the feel people would experience walking through the doors of your church. People are looking for ways to get basic information quickly, so content should be clean and concise.
A website that loads fast
Over half of mobile site visitors will leave a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s not much time to deliver a lot of data, so be sure to optimize the digital payload associated with videos and images. Your church website has to be fast and high-performing to keep users engaged and ensure your website ranks well on Google.
Excellent, relevant content
There’s nothing worse than visiting a website for the first time and feeling confused. Unlike social media that flashes by someone’s screen for a short moment, your church website is a hub for reliable content. People want to know when and where your church meets, what to expect from the community culture, and who they will find on the other side of the door. Making sure information is accurate and transparent is pivotal in keeping people engaged.
It’s All About the Domain
The goal of building a church website is ultimately to serve the people searching for information, and that starts with an easy-to-remember domain. A .church domain can help maximize engagement through promotional redirects, social links (like using it to link to your Facebook page), and shortcut URLs for donation or giving campaigns. This simple, versatile tool offers a clear, easy entry for people to get plugged into your ministry–whether they are eager for connection or simply looking to revisit a favorite sermon. Interested? Learn more about why a .church domain is right for you.
DJ Chuang is a brand ambassador for .church domain names, a part of Identity Digital powering the most relevant domain names on the internet. DJ is known as a thought leader who helps churches and nonprofits learn how to use the latest digital technologies.