Fishhook Contact

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Church Websites

Ultimate guide to the best church websites

Have you ever looked at your church website and just felt … defeated? There’s too much content, but not enough of the right content. People are creating rogue pages (or websites) and you have no system for updating it. You know something needs to change, but you’re not sure what or how.

You are not alone!

We’ve visited our fair share of church websites over the last 17 years. And as we sit down with church leaders from around the country, we almost always hear these comments:

  • Our website is outdated.
  • Our website is just an online bulletin board.
  • It’s event overload!
  • We have no system for updating or creating content.
  • None of our ministry areas are happy with their pages.
  • I keep telling people to check the website, but no one does.
  • People tell us they can’t find anything on our site.
  • Our website doesn’t reflect who we really are.

Any of that sound familiar?

It’s tempting to jump right into the development (or refresh) of a new website. You’re eager to make progress. Your leaders are asking that a new site be launched by a certain date or upcoming initiative. We get it. But before you do anything, we encourage you to take some time to pray and solidify a focused vision for your site.

The Ultimate Guide to the Best Church Websites will help you move from reactive and scattered to confident and organized! This guide will set you up to be ready to lead your church well through your next website build or refresh!

So who’s ready?! Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  1. What the best church websites have in common (and what they avoid)
  2. How to discover and embrace your church's unique brand story
  3. How to build an audience profile so you can reach real people with your site
  4. Practical ways to connect your website to the heart of your ministry
  5. How to lead up as you cast the vision for a new site to your leadership
  6. How to perform a DIY website audit of your current site

*Tip: If you want to go to a specific section and avoid scrolling, use the navigation bar at the top of the screen


Lessons from the Best Church Websites

What the Best Websites Avoid

Unfortunately, the majority of church websites have become like outdated bulletin boards. You know the kind? Poorly lit in highly trafficked corridors . . . border falling off revealing the sun-faded brown beneath? Outdated flyers? Random photos? We've all seen them, but we usually don't stop.

The best church websites avoid these common roadblocks:

  • Lack of stories and photos of life-change happening in/at/through the church
  • So. Many. Words. People end up scanning but missing the most important parts!
  • Outdated or incomplete information (can you say small group registration from 2017?)
  • No information on what to expect at a service (which door to enter, where to park, what to wear, etc.)
  • No illustration of ways the church is involved in the community and world
  • No email, phone number or photos for staff

When Fishhook started designing and programming websites 12 years ago, we used to consult our clients to put anything and everything on a church website. To treat it as a library of information that anyone could search any hour of the day. But, now, everything is different, and rightfully so.

In a study, conducted at the University of California-San Diego, researchers found that people are inundated with the equivalent amount of 34 GB (gigabytes) of information in a 12-hour day (the number has certainly increased since this study was conducted nearly five years ago)! For a comparison, one of our team member’s MacBook Pro holds 8 GB of memory. Whew!

In the article, "The Human Brain is Loaded Daily with 34 GB of Information" it shares that through a variety of sources (mobile phones, email, radio, books, etc.) people receive about 105,000 words or 23 words/second in half a day (12 waking hours)! Add to that the number of pictures, songs and games we interact with, the volume reaches on average, 34 GB of information per day.

Yet, more and more church websites are feeding the madness. So the question becomes: Are you using your church website to help cut through the clutter of information - or are you adding to it?

It’s time to shift your focus from marketing to ministry!

What the Best Websites Have in Common

At their core, the purpose of the best church websites is to share the love and hope of Jesus. To be a tool that helps you carry out your church mission.

Your website should accurately reflect who you are as a church, through video, photos, stories and intriguing content. Make the most out of all of your content, especially photography. It should also be a 24-hour resource for your audiences. A place where they can find information to solve their problems. Sometimes those problems are church-specific. But, most of the time, they simply need advice and direction. Here’s a short list of problems someone might come to your site hoping to remedy:

  • I’m new to town and feel disconnected and lonely. How can I interact with other Christians outside of a Sunday morning?
  • My teenage daughter doesn’t have friends and I don’t know how to help her. What do I do?
  • I need to talk to someone. Which ministry leader will listen to me? What’s her email and phone number?
  • I’m unsure about how your church is different from the one next door. Will I fit in?
  • I signed up for Thursday’s Bible study and I forgot to purchase the book. Can I pay for that online?

The best church websites are:

  1. Focused on Jesus
  2. Clearly tied to the church’s mission and ministry
  3. Straightforward and concise
  4. Creatively and strategically designed to reflect their unique personality
  5. Easy to navigate
  6. Focused on the newcomer and unbeliever
  7. Filled with impactful photography and video

Brand Story, Audience and Ministry

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, stay with us! We’re going to help you get organized so you can lead well and create a website that’s connected to the heart of your ministry!

Step One: Discover & Embrace Your Brand Story

Every church is unique. Your church has a mission and vision to pursue. A story to share. Important audiences to engage with, encourage and help take spiritual next steps.

It’s tempting to jump right into the development (or refresh) of a new website and your online strategy.

However, before you do, it’s critical to assess or review who your church is. Establish the bigger picture and story your church wants to share to reach people for Christ.

You want to establish your story FIRST! This will set your church up to develop content and a website that is compelling and effective for connecting with new and more people.

Your church’s story will - or should - impact the content, organization, design, functionality and development of your new website and all of your online efforts.

Key questions to discover your unique story: 

Here are key questions to work through related to your church and the story you want to share before your website development begins:

  1. What is your church’s mission (your WHY)? In other words, why does what you do matter for the people you are called to connect with?
  2. Who is your church striving to engage with? You can briefly describe this group or groups. (More on how to do that below.)
  3. What needs do these key audiences have? What problems can you help them solve?
  4. How will your church come alongside them to encourage and support them with these needs, problems or struggles?
  5. What next steps (your ministries, discipleship path, events, opportunities to serve, etc.) will you point people to?
  6. What does your church’s visual identity and overall brand experience communicate about your church’s story? Does it support your answers for questions 1-5? If it doesn’t, it’s important to examine your church’s branding efforts. It may be time for a refresh before going into a website project.

Walking through these questions and writing out your responses to discover or update your church’s story can involve several leaders, staff or church members. It can be helpful to affirm and clarify who your church is and where you are headed with these different groups.

Documenting your story: 

As you respond to the questions above, this will be the start to building your church’s story. You’ll connect these different messages and steps into a narrative.

With this narrative, focus on it being very conversational and approachable. You can write simple sentences, phrases or a bulleted list.

This content will become a journey that you will be inviting your key audiences into. Your goal is that it will be compelling and approachable to them so that their lives will be improved and they’ll know what next steps to take.

This narrative, these messages and steps will be key as you move into your web development project. It will guide you through the content, organization, design, functionality and overall development for the new site.

A few do's and don'ts: 

Here are some guidelines for establishing your church’s story before you move forward to develop your website, implement social media efforts or pursue other online activities.

  1. Don’t compare or copy: It’s easy to get distracted or enamored by the stories, priorities or progress other high-profile leaders, organizations or churches are telling. Sometimes you might even want to duplicate what others are sharing or doing.

    Find inspiration from these people and organizations, but don’t duplicate their story. Pray for God’s wisdom so your church can affirm the story you are called to tell and do it effectively through your communications to reach people in effective ways.
  2. Don’t rush this process:
    You may feel pressure to quickly rush through establishing your church’s story to start building your church’s new website. This is especially true if you’re more driven to get tactics and to-dos completed. Here are five additional questions to think through before you get started.

    Be sure to lean into the important and deeper work of understanding your church’s story and working through the questions we’ve given above. If you don’t establish your story well, your site will not be as effective as it can be. You might be left feeling underwhelmed.
  3. Don’t do this work alone:
    To keep things moving, you might consider going solo with this work. But that will not serve your church (or website process) in the long run.

    Involve others on this journey - especially other pastors, staff or leaders who can help you think strategically through a couple of discussions or meetings to hone your church’s story.

Step Two: Know & Reach the People in Your Community

When was the last time your church really asked who you were called to serve? We believe God has placed each church in a specific location, at a specific time to reach specific people. And all three of those things are completely unique to you, your leaders and your mission. You might have 20 churches within a five-mile radius, but not every church is meant for every person.

So, who is your church called to serve?

Maybe you’re able to rattle off a quick answer to that. Or maybe you’ve heard your leadership say something about reaching men between the ages of 35-40 because, “if you reach the man, you reach the family.” And that’s a great start! We want to help you not only answer the question, but develop a full audience profile that really puts people’s needs first and gives you a tool you can use to build a website made to serve them. Need a little extra help? Explore how and why to define your audience.

Start with your instincts:

At the end of this section, you should have two audience profiles developed. One for people who currently attend your church and one for people who live in your community. It’s definitely important for you to develop a profile for the people currently part of your congregation. But, more importantly, you need to take the time to understand the people in your community.

Before you dig into the details, we recommend starting with two activities based on your instincts:

  1. Draw a person/family that represents who currently attends your church. Use key words to describe them. List where  they work, live, go to school, shop, vacation, what they love, etc.
  2. Draw a picture of who needs your church the most. Or, said another way, who is not at your church today that God may be calling you to focus on and reach in the future? Draw a person/family to represent them. Use key words to describe them. Describe who lives with them (or who doesn’t), where they work, live, go to school, shop, vacation, what  they love, etc.

Now that you’ve gotten your brain thinking about your audiences, it’s time to take it a step further. Let’s add facts to those hunches!

Use data:

A new website is the perfect time to lean into whatever data you can find. We know in today’s culture, the word data has some negative connotations. And your church needs to decide where the line is for you. But data is a powerful tool that can unlock new knowledge and put facts to your hunches! We’ve started elevating data in all of our projects and we’ve seen it bring clarity, help church leaders make decisions and paint a picture of a church’s audience like they’ve never had before.

For current attendees, you can lean into data from your church management system or send out surveys. It’s easy to make assumptions about who attends regularly, especially if you’ve been attending or serving on staff for many years. Using data and surveys to add facts to those assumptions will help you know how to serve them better.

Many times, church leaders get caught up in updating/creating programs, serving and resourcing the people inside their walls. And we understand why! Those are the people you see regularly. But God calls us to reach out! And using data to develop a profile for your community will help.

You can find free community data online on websites like AreaVibes. This type of data will help you understand some of the demographic information. If you really want to learn about your audience, though, we recommend purchasing a tool like GLOO. GLOO is a big data platform that curates thousands of data points to help you understand people in a deep, meaningful way.

Analyze any data you can get your hands on and use it to develop your audience profiles.

Develop audience profiles:

Here is an outline you can use to develop both of your audience profiles. Fill this out based on the facts you get from data, avoiding hunches or assumptions.

  1. General demographic and biographic information
    1. Age
    2. Race/Ethnicity
    3. Income level
    4. Family size/make-up
  2. Common behavior patterns
    1. General personality traits
    2. Community involvement
    3. Giving/donation patterns
    4. Relationship with faith/religion
  3. Shared pain points, fears, stressors
    1. Relationship problems
    2. Biggest fears
    3. Career stressors
    4. Home-life stressors
    5. Current challenges
    6. Physical needs
  4. Universal goals, wishes, dreams
    1. Things they care about
    2. Goals they’re trying to achieve
    3. Spiritual needs/aspirations
  5. For insiders: How they serve at your church
  6. For insiders: How long they’ve been attending

Once you have both of your audience profiles developed, look at them side-by-side. Do the audiences match up? Are you currently reaching the same kinds of people who live in your community? If not, why? Bring leaders along on this journey and ask them for their opinions and thoughts on the data you’ve uncovered. Based on all of this information, have them answer this question before moving on:

Who is your church called to reach?

Once you have an answer to this question, build a site that’s geared toward those people!

Step Three: Connect Your Website to Your Ministry

Unless your website is a strategic, purposeful and intentional vehicle within your overall communications strategy, it won't get you too far down the road. At Fishhook we say this often, but what does it mean for your church? How do you bring your website into the big-picture at your church? It starts with understanding and knowing your church's vision.

  • In this season of ministry, what are your goals and priorities?
  • How do you connect with and assimilate people into your church body?
  • How do you help Christ-followers along the discipleship path?

If you can't quickly and easily name these things, then that is your first step. Why? When you bring your website into the overall strategy at your church, it will begin to support your ministry goals in a stronger way. Once you’ve defined your priorities and processes, you can help support them online.

The church must be intentional about reaching people online. Your content strategy can provide a framework for your  intentional efforts.

The business world is constantly trying to figure this out. They are trying to reach people where they are and in ways that they want to be reached. Similarly, this has always been the church's goal ... reaching more people with the hope of Christ. Instead of reaching out in ways that are familiar or comfortable for us, with information that is important to us, we can be intentional about reaching our audiences where they are and in ways they prefer to be reached. Think about the following: What content can your church share that your online audience already needs and wants?

Next, let’s focus on how your website can be inviting for users who are ready to interact with you.

Think user-first:

A "user-first" website prioritizes the needs of users over the desires of the organization. For example, a business may want to use their site primarily to sell widgets, but a customer may need to use the site to contact support or view their order history. Of course, business needs must be met, but a good site will cater to the audience’s needs and make sure they are met quickly and intuitively.

Why do we care about user-first websites? Since most of our clients are churches, we want to make sure their websites are helping to meet a very important goal: bringing people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Connecting with newcomers:

So how can you connect with newcomers online and specifically on your church website? One of the best ways is by creating content that will provide them value. Think of some of the ways that your church can position itself as a resource for their life. Then, make the information they care about easily accessible.

Help newcomers easily navigate your site to find answers to the questions they are asking. Welcome them, help them feel comfortable through your homepage  content, and guide them to a next step.

Newcomer Content Checklist

Add in the following content for your guests.

  • Church location
  • Multiple locations listed with unique characteristics (if applicable)
  • Service days/times
  • What to expect/journey of a newcomer
  • Options for kids (provide info on check-in, safety, etc.)
  • Contact information for those with questions
  • Online services, sermon downloads information
  • Use language that is easy to understand and illustrates that you recognize the newcomer’s questions, concerns, hopes, etc.

Answer all the questions you can for your newcomers. The more they know and understand, they more comfortable they will feel taking the next step of visiting your church. Avoid overwhelming them with too much information or giving them too many options. Just answer the basics that will help get them to a next step. Newcomers don’t need to know how to join the choir or serve in your children’s ministry when they are just checking out your church.

Bring your content (and church) to life by:

  1. Using conversational language that connects with a newcomer’s needs.
  2. Using high-quality photography/videography to highlight your church.
  3. Sharing stories of life-change and hope that help newcomers know there are people like them at your church.
  4. Creating content that addresses a felt-need in the lives of potential newcomers.
  5. Letting them know you care about their experience and want them to have a great visit.

Connecting with your congregation:

The next step in creating a website that’s built for ministry is resourcing the people already connected to your church. Again, go back to your church’s mission and goals. For example, you might list your goals as:

We want our congregation members to:

  • Grow in their relationship with Jesus
  • Connect in biblical community
  • Serve in ways that use their God-given gifts
  • Share the message of Jesus with others

With this in mind, your church’s website content should be directing your church family toward these goals.

Using this example, how might you express your mission through practical content?


Help people grow via your site by adding sermon audio/video or devotional content so they can expand their learning during the week. Include regular blog content that focuses on certain topics of personal and spiritual growth. The better you know your congregation and community, the easier it will be to generate topics that are relevant to their everyday lives. If your congregation is made up of families with teenagers, provide them content on parenting that age group. If your church family includes many young adults, you might provide them content on getting their finances in order from a biblical perspective. If you are connecting with mostly retired people, provide them content on the importance of staying invested in biblical community when it would be easy to disengage. You could also provide resources from the past week’s sermon. Think about the unique leaders and ministries in your church and how they might be equipped to share with and guide others through your online content.


Helping people connect on your site might be providing them with registrations for events, small groups and Bible studies. Include a small group finder on your website that helps them filter by day of the week, life stage, child care needs, area of town, etc. Then, provide them with a call-to-action (CTA) sign up or way to message the group leader.


Helping people find ways to serve on your site might include providing them with a spiritual gifts assessment so they can better understand how God has gifted them. Highlight ways to serve that match their giftings and passions, always remembering to give them a CTA to take the next step. Also, feature stories on your website about people serving and the impact it makes. Two of the biggest challenges related to serving are helping people understand the available opportunities and following up with them in a clear, timely manner. Design this portion of your website to do some of the heavy lifting through organized layout and automated processes that lead to personal connections.

This is where choosing a good Content Management System (CMS) comes into play. One platform our Fishhook team likes to develop on is Rock RMS. Here's a resource that will help you get the most out of a Rock RMS website. 


Helping people share the message of Jesus could be as simple as providing them with online tools for sharing on social media or invite cards to use with their friends. Consider including resources on simple ways to serve and care for their neighbors.

What creative ideas might you add to help your church use your website as a ministry tool to help people take next steps?

Cast Vision & Lead Up

Your website is a whole-team endeavor. Everyone wants the website to share their information and tell their stories. But the best websites have one clear and unifying story to tell. More than a collection of competing stories, every great church website should be able to point toward a shared vision - a vision that every ministry is investing in and supporting.

With a website–and every communication tool and strategy–you need to cast a vision that directly connects to your mission and vision as a church. Because we use websites every day, it’s tempting for every person on your team to believe they understand what websites are for and how they should function and look.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to clarify what your church’s website is for. A website is not a marketing tool–it’s not simply a place to get information or share service times. Your website is a ministry tool. At its best, it is a critical tool you are using to tell a story, help people take next steps, and grow the strength of your church.

Casting Vision

Your role is to help your team understand that your website is a ministry tool and see its potential when it functions that way. Here are three ways you can remind people regularly:

    1. Tell stories about how your website enabled ministry to happen. Share how someone learned about your church and felt encouraged and welcomed through your I’m New page. Example: Seeing photos, watching a welcome video, or being able to pre-register their kids helped a guest have a great experience that led him/her to start attending regularly.
    2. Encourage your team to invite people into an experience instead of passing on information.
      Instead of making your website events a dry list of dates, times and locations, train your staff on how to write concise and compelling invitations to engage people in an opportunity. Encourage and help your team along the way!
    3. Commit to using your website as a welcome mat.
      Your website is going to be guest-friendly. A website full of insider jargon, extensive internal calendars and paragraphs of doctrinal statements is built to inform people you already have. A website that anticipates people who aren’t familiar with your building or terminology and helps them identify their next step is built for ministry. It’s all about connecting and engaging people relationally right where they are!

Leaders have to remind people of the vision over and over again. So when it comes to using your website as a ministry tool, stay positive and cast vision on a regular basis. When you’re ready, here are 10 ways you should be promoting your site.

Leading Up

Church communicators collaborate with, support and promote the work of many other leaders, teams and organizations in the community. It can be deeply satisfying work. It can also be frustrating when you feel like everything is out of your control. Because your website is complex, involves every ministry in your organization and will require intentional time and funds, you have to have leadership buy-in. Not only does your leadership need to understand the ministry-based mindset of your website, they need to support it with financial resources, organizational priority and their influence on the staff.

As you set out to create a new website (or revamp your existing one), there will be constraints of time, finances and focus. These are very real challenges. You can have a direct impact on them by managing your own time well and getting creative with the resources you have at hand. But often, a lack of control is a reality we all have to accept.

So what can you do when you are facing a lack of control?

You can ‘lead up’ and you can get intentional about your influence.

Leading up is helping your leaders accomplish what they and the whole organization wants to accomplish. Leading up effectively creates alignment and maximizes the effort of the whole team. The key is shared vision and goals.

Influence is doing your best to support and invest in those around you, through your words and actions, for the greater good. Positive influence creates an environment of collaboration, honesty and support. The key is relational connection.

Leading up isn’t being a teacher’s pet and having influence doesn’t mean manipulation. In their healthiest forms, both leading up and having influence rely on trust-based relationships, shared vision and a desire to help the team (or organization) win. And while you may not have positional authority, you do have relational influence. When you move away from a mindset of trying to get control and move toward influence, you can find a way to move the whole team forward from any seat on the bus.

Four principles to help you lead up and influence well:

  1. Mission Above All Else
    The greatest priority has to be the mission. You aren’t fighting another ministry for room in the budget, a ministry leader isn’t the enemy and you aren’t competing for a promotion. The Church has the greatest and easiest mission to support. When you start to feel frustrated about a particular challenge or lack of control, check-in with yourself to make sure you are striving to serve the mission and not your own desires or insecurities.

    Your website is a strategic tool you are using to carry out the mission. Resist getting lost in the weeds of a particular event, class or group. When you have conflicting priorities or are stuck on a particular decision related to your website, come back to the mission. How can you move forward in a way that most directly carries out your mission? That is a win for everyone.
  2. Honor at All Times
    Honor everyone you interact with. Do your best to fully understand their perspective, goals and experiences. It won’t serve you (or the team) well to make a caricature of someone else’s opinion or perspective. When you take a posture of honor, you are slow to speak and quick to listen.

    Many website projects bring up strong emotions. As you gather content, people miss deadlines. As you put together your events calendar, individuals can get territorial. When you are working to approve the homepage, ministry teams want to be elevated and seen. Recognize that everyone is doing the best they can, they are doing what they think is best. Make decisions from a place of empathy and understanding. Don’t dismiss people’s desires, and don’t downplay when someone is frustrated. Honor one another at all times.
  3. Get Intentional
    If you need to have an important conversation, think about what day of the week is ideal for the other person. Think about their workload, their stress level and their schedule. Anticipate questions you might need to answer. Take initiative to align your individual goals with a higher level organizational or team goal. Do your best to serve others every step of the way. Leave assumptions at the door. Don’t “hope for the best.” Plan for reality.

    Planning is a huge part of every website project. And if you want to lead up well, you will have to be intentional in the way you push-and-pull to create the best work that represents your church. Remember the weight that leaders in your church carry with them every day. Understand the flow of their week and be sensitive to any significant decisions they are focused on. Be ready and willing to answer the same questions and concerns you think you’ve already addressed (you probably have, let’s be honest). Always come back to aligning the goals of your project to the vision and mission of leadership and your church.
  4. Speak the Truth
    At Fishhook, we like to say, “Facts are friends.” It’s tempting to think we have to choose between speaking the truth and maintaining relationships. But when you hold back from saying what you think, know or feel, you aren’t protecting the relationship. You are actually isolating yourself and distancing others from your unique perspective. Speaking the truth isn’t always easy, but you have to bring your whole self to the table. God has put you in this specific role in this specific church for a reason. And if you think speaking the truth (with love and grace, this isn’t giving you permission to be a jerk) could cost you your job or ministry, it may be time to reevaluate whether this is the right place for you to be serving today.

    As a church communicator, you have training and experience that makes you uniquely equipped to lead a website project. There might be some technical aspects where you will need to defer to another staff member or consultant. Do that graciously and with honor. But, as a communicator, have the courage to be the person in the room who is constantly bringing the whole team and leadership back to the higher level. Repeat the vision, connect the strategy to the desired outcome and be practical in the details of moving the project forward.

Doing work that matters requires we all step up to the challenges in front of us, especially when we aren’t in control. When you lead up well and when you use your influence effectively, everyone wins. You serve the mission best by helping everyone grow and by striving to bring to life the shared vision that brought you to this work in the first place.

There are millions of websites in the world, so it’s tempting to think that great ones are easy to come by and easier to maintain. As a leader, the success of your church website will greatly depend on your ability to cast a compelling vision for your website as a ministry tool that carries out the unique mission and vision of your church. Having the support of leadership, through finances, focus and priority is essential. To get leadership fully onboard, lead up by aligning the needs of the website to the goals of your organization. Honor everyone in the process, be intentional in how you plan and carry out the project, and speak the truth from the seat you’ve been given at the table.

Perform a DIY Website Audit

Changing your website to become more ministry-focused is a little bit like taking a road trip! You need to plan ahead, map out your route, and keep track of your progress.

Get started by conducting an audit of your site’s current state. In order to create effective changes that meet users' needs, you need to know who you’re reaching, where are you are currently and where you’re going. Use the following steps to define your audience, set benchmarks, create goals and measure your progress. You can probably do all of these things today, with little or no help from a developer or IT. Let’s begin!

Define Your Audience

Before you open a web browser, make sure you understand and have defined who your site is meant for ... the people you’re striving to reach.

A ministry-minded website should provide timely, relevant content that can be found quickly by the people with whom you’re trying to communicate - your audience. Earlier, you focused on defining your audience profiles, so refer back to those and list them.

Set Benchmarks

This is an easy one to miss but you won’t be able to tell if you’re making progress if you don’t know where you started!

Once you’ve identified and documented the audience(s) you want to reach, it’s time to get a feel for how your site is doing right now. Using one persona at a time, look at a few key pages of your site that would relate to them. For each persona and each page, identify and document some data that you can continue to measure. This will help you set goals to improve each of these metrics. Some possible benchmarks might be:

  • How many “clickable” items are on the page?
  • How many of those items are relevant to the persona?
  • How many items are NOT relevant to that persona?
  • Is there a clear “call-to-action” for that persona on the page?
  • How many clicks would it take for that person to reach the content they need/want?
  • What kind of engagement are we seeing now? What would we like to see?

Create Goals

Now that you have defined your audience and set some benchmarks around your site’s current performance, you can create goals for making improvements. It’s time to figure out where you want to go!

For each of your benchmarks, create one or more SMART goals that you can reach. Each SMART goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. For example, let’s use a “New Parent” persona for the home page. Some goals might be:

  • Create one new graphic (Specific, Measurable, Attainable) promoting a parent resource (Relevant) every month (Time Bound).
  • Remove one clickable element from the home page that isn’t relevant to the “New Parent” persona by the end of the month.
  • Increase clicks on a “New Parent” call-to-action button by 10% in the next four weeks.

Some of those accomplishments will depend on you, and some may depend on others, so be sure that your whole team is aware of each goal, and has what they need to move forward on it.

Measure Your Progress

Whew! That’s a lot of work, but again - you can’t tell you’re advancing if you aren’t measuring your progress.

For each of your goals, you should be able to come back to it after your Time Bound measurement has passed. Review your personas, your goals and document your achievements. If meeting your goal depends entirely on your internal team and process, like creating a new graphic for the home page, you may not need any additional tools to mark your success. But if some of your goals will measure user interaction or engagement, you might find some of these resources helpful:

  • Analytics: Hopefully, your site is already tracking visitors using an embedded code snippet on every page. If you’re not sure, check in with your developer or IT team to be certain some type of analytics software is installed before you make changes related to your goals! We recommend Google Analytics.
  • Visitor Engagement: While measuring site visits or page views, it’s helpful to see how visitors are interacting with various elements on an individual page. Hotjar can do that for you! Using another easily embedded snippet of code, Hotjar can be enabled to show how often links are being clicked, how much of the page is being viewed and even record videos of user visits across multiple pages throughout the site.
  • Search Results: Review the search terms being used to reach your site, and which pages are getting the most hits from organic search traffic. Google’s Search Console gives an overview of how your visitors are finding you, as well as suggestions for increasing site usability and functionality.

Keep Going!

The reality of websites is that they are always changing. It can be frustrating to feel like your work is never done, but it can also be liberating to know that it’s never too late to start! If the process of improving your website to better minister to your audience feels overwhelming, start with one step at a time.

Performing a DIY Audit like this can help you start to clarify the vision of your church, set attainable goals to reach your audience, and measure your success. Use these small wins to celebrate - remember that behind every click and every visit is a real person that you’re trying to help! And be sure to share your wins with us, we’d love to cheer you on.

Having a ministry-focused website is one of the most important communication tools of today. If you're feeling overwhelmed, remember you are not alone. Our team is here to walk with you and cheer you on. If you'd like us to do a custom audit of your current site and give you some specific next steps, email Shayla and she'll send you more info. 

Download a PDF version of this guide here: