How to Spring Clean Your Church Website in 7 Steps
Just as it is time to do some of the once-or-twice-per-year cleaning around the house and/or your church facilities, now is a great time to give the same close attention to your church website.
And as with some spring cleaning projects, there are things on this list that we should be paying attention to more than once a year. But if any of these have slipped down your to do list—or off altogether—now is the time to focus on them.
1. Check all worship time listings
Ensure that the worship time information is correct everywhere it is listed. Especially if you have changed your schedule recently, or you had special one-week-only worship times for Easter, ensure that the regular week-to-week information is what is listed.
Check the obvious places like the front/home page, worship page, plan-a-visit or I’m new page, and about us page. Also do a search of your site to see if there are any other odd places they may have been listed and potentially not updated.
Out of every item on the list, this is the most important step—and it really should be something you check more than once per year. While you’re at it, check your social media profiles, Google business listing, and the listing of worship times on any denominational or other church directory websites.
2. Remove Easter (and Christmas) promos
Nothing says, “You won’t find current or accurate information here,” like a website promoting something that happened weeks (or months) ago. No matter how cool your Easter graphics were, it is time to take them down.
While changing the front page of your website into invitations for major holidays and services like Christmas Eve and Easter is a good idea, I have written before about why your weekly sermon graphic should not be on your homepage.
Instead, feature imagery of smiling faces, a headline message of welcome, and a call-to-action button aimed at taking interested visitors to a plan-a-visit or I’m new page on your website that gives them all the info they’re looking for.
This will not only help interested visitors feel more comfortable about visiting your church, but it is way easier to maintain than changing the graphics out every week (or as you remember).
3. Update the Staff and Contact Pages
One of the most visited pages on a church website is the staff page. Visitors like to see the faces of the people who are in charge—especially if they have kids they will be leaving in a kids ministry or nursery during church.
Take new staff photos every year or two. First, this ensures that everyone actually looks like they do in their photo on the website. Second, it allows you to have a consistent look across all of the photos, especially if you have had staff or leadership changes.
It is also a good idea to check all of the contact information and/or contact forms on your website. Is everyone’s email address correct? Are the phone extensions correct? Does your contact form actually still send the messages to the correct person—or to anyone? You don’t want to miss out on someone visiting because they didn’t get their questions answered.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify
I know you’re skimming this post.
It’s ok. We all do it.
Yet, when we are writing the copy for our church’s website, we often write like we will be punished if we leave something out. But think about how you feel when you load a webpage with seemingly unending blocks of text. You might be a saint, but I am not reading that!
Go through the pages on your website and edit them down as much as you can. Always keep the perspective of a visitor in the front of your mind. They likely have a few specific questions in mind as they browse your website, and your main goal should be answering those questions without overwhelming them with tons of other information.
5. Perform all website updates
In addition to the content and look of your website, be sure that the technical side of your website is in good shape as well. If you run your site through a service like Squarespace, updates are installed automatically. However, if you run your site through WordPress, perform all updates to WordPress itself and your plugins.
If you are more technically minded, or have access to someone who is, analyze your website with Google’s PageSpeed tool. It will give you recommendations on how to improve the performance of your website, which is important as Google uses page speed as a factor in ranking websites in search results.
6. Check the mobile version
Mobile use is on the rise, and so having a website that looks good on a mobile device is essential. If your website looks like a tiny, cramped version of your desktop site, it is not responsive. Responsive sites rearrange and resize elements so that they look good and are effective on all devices.
Most modern website services and themes are responsive by default. However, you may need to go in and make a few tweaks if certain elements are not displaying properly. If your site is not responsive, it is likely because your theme or website builder is outdated, and you will need to switch to something newer.
7. Recruit a “secret shopper” for your site
Recruit someone who is demographically similar to the people you are trying to reach but is unfamiliar with your church (or church in general), and ask them to check out your website. They are going to be able to see your website in a way you cannot.
Ask them to describe the church based solely on the website. Is that the first impression you were hoping to make?
Ask them what made sense, what was confusing, and what would have made the website easier to use.
Ask them which parts of the website were interesting, which parts they skimmed or skipped, and what questions they still have after visiting the site.
This kind of feedback can help you further refine and focus your site, ensuing that it is an effective tool—and not a stumbling block—for interested new visitors.