A couple years ago, Aboundant surveyed a group of pastors, lay persons, and church administrators about the difficulties they have experienced in launching a new church website. The number one answer was not the cost of a website or the know-how necessary to create it. Instead, the challenge most often expressed was time.
In our follow up we found that “time” was often expressed in one of three ways: The time it takes to create and manage the site, the time it takes to train volunteers, and the time it takes to figure out how best to organize your site. This post addresses that last time-related concern: how to organize your site.
If you know what pages to put on your church site, you’ll find it easier to collect your thoughts about your site’s organization. This method won’t work for everyone, and it’s not universal, but it’s a good starting point. (Please note that if you intend to have a one-page site or prefer to have a more compact site, you can simply replace the word “page” with “section” and this guide should still work for you.)
Here are the 10 Pages:
- Home. This is, of course, the most important page on your site. I recommend that churches consider their home page to be a portal to, or representation of, the other most important parts of your site. For example, you could have a welcoming banner image that links to your welcome page. Alternatively, you could have a short welcome message with a “read more” link at the end that leads to your welcome page.
- Welcome. A welcome page is an “About” page that’s visitor focused. It helps a visitor to imagine fitting-in to the life of your community. A personal welcome statement, along with information about common visitor concerns such as what to wear, where to park, how to navigate the building, and when nursery care is available all make for for great welcome page.
- Beliefs. Don’t expect a visitor to trust your church if they don’t first have a basic understanding of what you believe.
- History. This page can contain the who, what, when, why, and how of your church. Even a newer church likely has a compelling story of how they came into existence and the important things they’ve done since then. Do not make this page too long, though; a few short paragraphs that lift up the highlights will suffice.
- Leadership. This page lists who is in charge, what they do, and how can they be contacted. I say “leadership” because you may want to add key volunteer leaders along with the paid staff.
- Contact. In addition to an interactive map like Google Maps, this page should contain all of your contact information, a contact form, and your building/office hours.
- Worship. This is where you explain your worship options and give more information about what visitors will expect to experience during worship. Information about sacramental rites can also go here.
- Ministry 1. Outside of worship, what do you most hope both newcomers and regular attenders will get involved in? That’s what should go here. For many congregations, this is some sort of small group or education ministry.
- Ministry 2. This is a page to highlight a secondary, highly-important ministry, such as opportunities for serving others.
- Ministry 3. Many churches use this page to highlight opportunities for children, youth, or families, since those are frequently of interest to visitors.
Every church has a different way of organizing their ministries. Some do it by age group, some by ministry area, and so on. I recommend that churches have 2-5 categories instead of having a page for each individual ministry. Larger churches can use sub pages within these categories. This will make your site easier to digest and navigate.
This Fall, Aboundant will be launching a new service level called Aboundant 10: the 10 Minute, 10 Page, 10 Dollar Church Website. Consequently, these are the 10 pages we will help you set up with Aboundant 10, using our smart questionnaire, “Launch Pad”. Learn more here.
In addition to these 10 essential pages, we strongly recommend that churches also consider having the following 5 important pages:
- Giving. Online giving has been shown to increase overall giving in a church, even after the various service charges are considered. Recurring giving and designated giving are great features to add to this page.
- Calendar. The events calendar page will allow users to easily see what’s going on in your church.
- Pastor’s Blog. Blogs can be used for many types of content a pastor wishes to share or discover. For example, they are a great way to tease out sermon ideas and to provide leadership to the congregation.
- Announcements. This page should contain a feed of the latest news and events posts in chronological order.
- Sermons Media. A sermon page provides a way for distant congregants to stay involved in the church’s life and for congregants in general to delve deeper into scripture.
These additional pages are available with our current level of service, which has been re-named, “Aboundant Premium.”
This is not an exhaustive list, but it was refined over years of working on church websites by our staff. For inspiration and to see these pages in action, check out our demo site here.