By: Dalet Valles
The world of technology is rapidly changing with new advancements every day. The church, however, attempts to stay center, though it has been following changes to keep up with trends. Churches all around have sought out connections through online platforms — social media, YouTube and even their own websites. Some have the means to hire people to construct websites while others lean on their own knowledge to build one. With this, it is brought to question if the church can truly keep up with the neverending trends and rules that are behind creating a website and truly connecting with the audience. It is not just about understanding the technology itself but creating an experience that will bring users back.
Giving your site an identity
Throughout any website, a user must be able to identify who or what is responsible for the website. A person, or organization, needs to showcase what is being advocated. There are a number of things that should be present on a site to present identification to the audience.
- Who, or what is the website representing? Make the name of the person or organization clear at first glance. The ‘Home’ page is ideally where this is housed.
- Intentions. This is a list of goals, ideals or purposes. Typically, it is on the ‘About’ section of a website, but summaries are included on the ‘Home’ page.
Examining the website for Emmanuel Reformed Church shows that most factors are found.
When a user lands on the site, the logo is one of the first things in the eye-line. The audience knows what the site is representing.
Though the goals may be a little harder to interpret, there are hints on the home page – spreading the word and providing invitations. Their set intentions are not found until users navigate to the ‘About’ page. This is not always a horrible experience for the user, and or owner of the site. This serves as a way to keep the audience on their website for longer.
Capture the user
On top of that, the webpage needs to appease the audience. Is it eye-catching? Is the site easy to navigate, or does it present difficulties? Do links work? All these small details work together to keep the user on the site.
Emmanuel Reformed Church has its navigation on the left, upper corner of its site. At first glance, a user may think it is just four options, but when a user goes to click ‘Connect,’ more options come down.
This can create some confusion at first if users think that those four options are the end of it. However, it is useful to have categories under the larger umbrella – this one being ‘Connect.’
Links are another way to captivate the audience. Providing different portals to other parts of a website will keep a user engaged without keeping them in one spot. This can be to promote, inform or navigate. This website has links connected to buttons and words or phrases.
This church uses links to connect to buttons, which will lead them to another part of the website. ERCLA.TV will take users to scheduled church services that are broadcasted through their site. On the ‘Online’ section, it is seen that there are links to Facebook, YouTube and the church app. This is a great example of how to advertise other parts of an organization and gain greater online traffic in those areas.
A website should regularly undergo improvements. It is not only about keeping up with the trends and rules, but rather creating an experience that will flow smoothly. Regular maintenance will provide website managers to find out what is working and what is not. It is not a matter of being extravagant but creating a worthwhile experience.