During the COVID pandemic, it became clear to many organizations that their website was not meeting their needs. We have heard the following from many of our partners:
“Our website is too confusing/difficult to update.”
“People can’t find the information they need.”
“Our website is almost 10 years old and it looks like it!”
You already know the importance of your website for connecting with potential visitors or donors. So we will jump off that soap box and focus on why your website needs to be inspiring and actionable and how you can implement some simple best practices!
Your Website is a TV CommerciaL, Not a Billboard
Many organizations still treat their website like a bulletin board—informational, static, and updated only a few times a year.
When in reality, your website needs to be a TV commercial—inspiring people to take action through stories and visuals, addressing pain points with regularly updated messaging.
Meaning, your website should be a visual representation of your organization’s personality/mission and include the most relevant information people need to know about your ministries, services, or events.
However, we are finding many websites are still outdated, difficult to navigate, have little to no photos, and way too much text to read through.
Here are a few ways you can make your website the communication hub it needs to be to engage with visitors!
HUB FOR TELLING STORIES…AT LEAST MONTHLY!
Most websites have a blog feature built into the platform. Begin to utilize this blog feature to share stories of the amazing work your organization is doing. You get caught up in “what is coming” and promote future events that you forget to look back and celebrate the awesome impact you are making in the world.
Take Action: Ask a volunteer or two to write up some stories about your organization, the people it serves, and the impact you are making. Publish these stories on your website blog and then showcase them on your homepage.
You should also categorize/tag each blog story by topic so you can display relevant stories on specific pages of your website.
For example, volunteers sharing stories of why they love to volunteer should show up on your volunteer recruitment page. Rather than you talking about why people should volunteer, what better way to inspire others to sign up than by sharing stories from actual volunteers?
Hub for all RSVPs, Links, & Sign Ups
You should be using your website to house all event RSVPs or volunteer sign-ups. By doing so, people already connected to you can find the information 24/7, even when they are not on site.
Any potential supporters can also engage with the same information while they learn more about your organization. You know the whole two birds, one stone thing.
Many organizations send out monthly or weekly email newsletters to their donors or members, yet that same important information never makes it onto the website. We know you have the details, but it’s simply not available on your most important communication channel.
Take action: Take an hour once a week and make sure your upcoming events and opportunities are easily accessible on the website, on the homepage, and on a calendar/events/news page.
Many website providers have a calendar, event, or blog feature that can be utilized to showcase upcoming events and ministry opportunities. It should look something like this:
If your website does not have this feature, then it may be time for an upgrade! It is incredibly important to have an events feature that is easy to update so staff/volunteers can avoid spending hours creating new website pages for each upcoming opportunity or removing event details after they have passed.
HUb for Pictures & Visuals
For our church partners, we usually find a picture of their church building within five seconds of being on the website. However, buildings are not usually that inspiring unless you have a painting by Michaelangelo on your sanctuary ceiling :)
People, however, are inspiring. Smiling faces and a sense of community between a group of people is even more inspiring. It is true that pictures speak louder than words. Even better, videos can capture the tangible feeling of an event or organization.
Take action: Be sure your website has an assortment of pictures of the people you serve, people who volunteer, employees/staff, and opportunities you want people to engage in. Help them imagine what it looks like for them to be a part of your organization.
Also, a reminder that no one else knows that little Sally in the photo is now entering high school. If the image still accurately depicts your organization’s personality and environment, then you can still use it.
Just remember to regularly change photos when you have them so your site stays fresh. There is always a photographer in your midst who would be willing to display their work on your website—you just have to ask them!
Hub to Get more Information
When your website is the hub for a majority of your stories and opportunities, it would seem obvious to then link to your important information in other communication channels. Yet, we continually see emails that are so long, even the email provider truncates the content!
A majority of your website visitors and social media users are on mobile devices. So you must be optimizing the length and presentation of your content for mobile users.
When your website is relevant and updated, your website now becomes the hub for getting more information about your organization, regardless of the communication channel they found you on.
Also, your staff only has to update information in one place rather than every communication channel.
For example, if the time of an event changes, you only need to make the correction on the website because all other communication channels are pointing to your website for the event details. Can you imagine the staff time saved?!
Take action: Link to your website within other communications channels, especially within emails and social media posts. Avoid sharing long paragraphs of text by linking to blog posts, events, or pages of your website where more information can be found.
Your social media post does not have to share every detail necessary about an upcoming event, this is what your website is for. Give a quick snippet of the story with an image and then link to the story on your website.
Allow people who want to read the full story to easily find it, while those who don’t have time can still be inspired by the most important details!
Avoid linking only to your home page and making people search for the information that is relevant to them. Create a path of least resistance and drop people to the pages that are most relevant and likely to inspire them to get connected or take the next step.