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5 Ways Your Website is Turning Off Visitors

person visiting website on computer

Your website matters. It’s one of the most essential tools you have at your disposal to engage your congregants in the life of your church. It’s also the first place visitors go when they’re considering joining you for a worship service.

Your website is the front door of your church. Visitors want to come inside and look at your church before committing to step through your doors. 

Visitors considering attending your church aren’t different from shoppers today looking for a good deal. A generation or two ago, shoppers looking for a new washing machine would visit four or five stores and maybe flip through some catalogs before deciding. Today they’ll visit a half dozen websites and look at reviews before purchasing. 

Many spiritual seekers will do the same thing as they look at your church. They’ll search your website to learn more about you, watch sermons, and learn what your church is like before showing up.

Is your website ready for that?

Visitors looking at your website may not give your church a second chance. It’s essential to be prepared. Here are five key reasons your church website isn’t ready to help visitors find your church. 

1. Insider Language Creates Barriers

Your website has a vital role to play in how you communicate with your congregation. You likely use it to let your congregants know what’s going on and to give them a place to engage with you further. It’s a vital portal to get information to your church members.

Because you’re trying to use your website to communicate with your congregation, it’s easy to slip into language outsiders don’t get. Insider language makes visitors—people new to your church and those new to faith in general — feel like they don’t belong before they even enter your doors. And, if visitors find this prevalent on your site, they most likely never will. 

Insider jargon can take several forms, including overly theological language, denominational phrasing, and abbreviations specific to your church or faith tradition. Certain places on your website, such as your doctrinal statement, need detailed language that may not be accessible to outsiders. But always include a more readable version that visitors can easily find. 

Create a process to review your content for visitor clarity before publishing it. On a semi-regular basis, have someone who doesn’t attend your church look through your site and note concerns, if possible. 

2. The Website Loads Slowly

Your visitors are impatient. All web users are impatient these days. Studies show that you have a 25 percent chance of losing visitors if it takes a mere four seconds to load your website!

Imagine losing a quarter of your potential guests before they’ve even looked through your site.

Slow-loading times don’t just impact people who are trying to access your site, but search engines will penalize you for it, too. That means you’ll have fewer eyeballs of potential visitors on your website. 

You can find a number of online tools to check your load time. Pingdom Tools’ Website Speed Test, BrowserStack’s SpeedLab, and Google PageSpeed Insights are some of the most regularly used.  

The good news is you can fix the problem. Many fixes require little technical know-how. For example, simply compressing your images (making them smaller) can often significantly improve your load time. Talk with your web hosting service help desk. They can often help you pinpoint the problem and walk you through solutions. 

3. People Don’t Know What to Do

Clarity is critical in any communication, but it’s particularly important on a church website. Nothing matters more than a clear and compelling call to action. When a visitor reads content on your website, they naturally want to know what they should do with that information. 

“Calls to Action” (usually referred to as CTAs) are short, clear statements that tell visitors exactly what you want them to do on the page. 

Often, your key CTA for visitors is asking them to visit the church. Don’t assume a visitor gets that. Clearly invite visitors to attend. Alternate the wording to provide some variety. Consider providing some kind of compromise call to action, such as a way for visitors to learn more about the church before attending (and provide you with contact info in the process). 

CTAs like “Plan Your Visit,” “Watch a Sermon,” and “Learn More About Us” can be particularly helpful for visitors checking your site out. 

4. You’re Not Meeting the Needs of Visitors

This relates to the earlier reminder about not using insider language. You need to be concerned about more than just the words you use, though.

Your content must be relevant and valuable for visitors and relate to the unique reasons they’re visiting your site. Certainly, not every piece of content will relate to visitors, but make sure visitors can easily find a link on each page that will take them back to content for visitors. 

Think through the questions visitors will have before they visit your church. What time do services start? Where should I park? What do I wear? Make sure you’re answering those questions in highly visible places on your site.

Many churches have separate pages created for visitors with answers to the questions above and more. Consider going this route to ensure the places you’re sending visitors will include information relevant to them and that lead to the action you’d like them to take.

5. Your Information is Outdated

When your website contains outdated information, it signals to visitors no one is paying attention. Outdated information erodes trust and credibility and helps to ensure visitors never visit. Just as you’d never leave outdated event fliers lying around your church, you don’t want outdated content on your website, either. 

Build regular reviews of your website into your schedule to spot outdated material. The more you can do this systematically, the better. One way is to create a spreadsheet listing each page of your site. Put a date beside the URL when you check it for outdated content.

Many content management systems will allow you to make easy updates. If a cumbersome update process is making it harder for your content to stay fresh, consider finding a new content management system to help.

You may have other church teams updating their own pages on your site. Make sure you communicate the importance of keeping fresh content on the site. While others may be responsible for individual pages on the site, fresh content is important enough that someone should own the responsibility of checking all pages regularly. You don’t want this to fall through the cracks. 

Time to level up your site

Your website may be the most important communication tool your church has. Don’t waste it. Spend some time to make sure insider language, high loading times, poor CTAs, irrelevant information, and outdated content aren’t sabotaging it. 

You’ll never regret the time you spend optimizing your website for visitors. 

Think about it like this. Every hour you spend fixing the issues described above may mean another family checking out your church for the first time.

It’s worth the effort. 

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In the ever-evolving landscape of church engagement and management, ACS Technologies rises above the rest. Our comprehensive church solutions, bespoke digital offerings, streamlined communication tools, comprehensive ministry consulting, and training make us the trusted choice for over fifty thousand churches. Experience the ACS Technologies advantage and elevate your church’s online presence, connectivity, and generosity today. Join us in redefining church technology for the digital age, where your ministry’s success becomes our shared mission.