12 cheat-sheet tips about church websites
By Mark MacDonald

Share this article:  

In college, as I took classes and studied, I often created "cheat-sheet" cards that I hole-punched, put on a large hoop and hung on my belt loop. I'd concisely write information that seemed to be exam-worthy on each card so I could review it between classes. I wanted to be ready for the exam.


Does your website have enough white space on the home page?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No

As we all know, life isn't about passing exams, it's about learning how to do things properly when the opportunity arrives. That's success. I'm blessed to give churches direction about their website design and content; so I've been accumulating quick, easy-to-remember tips that will help them develop websites that work. Print this article as a cheat-sheet to ensure you'll pass the test of an effective church website:
  1. People look in the upper-right corner of your page first. We all double-check that we're on the correct site. Quick tip: It's a great place to put a tagline that promises a sought-after benefit. Make it short and easy to remember.

  2. Think of the capital letter "E" when people are reading your pages. They travel down the left side, scanning headlines and anything that captures their attention. They rarely make it all the way across the page. Think "short arms" to the "E."

  3. People stopped reading most website content a long time ago. Especially if you write in long paragraph form. They browse, glance and skim pages for a whopping 10 seconds per page. Keep pages short (think 50 words).

  4. Headlines capture attention more than pictures.

  5. Pictures capture attention before body copy does.

  6. Ads or banners rarely capture attention. Especially if they're on the right side.

  7. White space is needed on your pages. People stay longer on pages that have "rest" areas.

  8. Home pages aren't supposed to be content-rich. They should be a springboard to the content people are searching for. They spend about three seconds looking for it. And only click three times in a website to find it.

  9. The menu should have a clear "first time" or "guest" menu drop-down. The rest of the menu? A clear, easy-to-understand selection of ministries (organized by interests or ages). Remember, it's about the people, not the programs, right?

  10. Have an easy way to contact the church. Scared people will call or email all the time? You shouldn't be in ministry then.

  11. Make sure your service times are clearly found. On the home page if possible.

  12. People love bullet points or lists. They're scannable. You read this list, no?

Mark MacDonald is a blogger, speaker and strategist for PinPointCreative.com. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant through their services, ministries, websites and social media.