Not too long ago, the first interaction that a guest would have with your church was at your front door. Most churches have a greeter meet guests at the door, equip them with information about your church, and lead them to where they needed to go — whether that was your kids’ area, your welcome area, or to the sanctuary.
Today, your church website has become your front door. 46% of church attenders say that a church’s website plays a significant role in their decision to visit that church. Are prospective visitors finding the information that they’re looking for?
Here are 7 things that your visitors need to find on your “new here” page.
1. A clean layout
You wouldn’t settle for a messy or cluttered lobby. Why? Because that would be a distraction for your guest and it would leave a poor first impression.
Have you considered the impact that a messy website could have on your prospective guests’ decisions to visit your church? Check out our blog post featuring 10 Phenomenal Examples of First Time Guest Pages for inspiration on how to create a first time guest page that wows visitors and helps them experience life at your church.
2. Service times
Few things are as embarrassing as showing up to a church service 30 minutes late. Did service start at 10 or 10:30? I’ve personally watched guests stop in their tracks and walk away from a church service when they realized that service was underway.
Your service times should be prominently displayed on all pages of your site, but most importantly, on your “new here” page.
3. Location & directions
Along with service times, your location is a critical piece of information to include on your “new here” page. Extra credit is given for including a map, and double the bonus points are given for a one-click “get directions” button that makes finding the way as easy as possible.
If your church has multiple locations, be sure to very clearly help visitors decide which campus to attend and make it as simple as you can to find their way to the right place.
4. What to expect
Your guests want to ensure that they feel welcome when they arrive at your church. They may have had poor experiences at churches in the past, where they have been judged for what they’re wearing, their hairstyle, or any number of other things.
What are some ways that you can help visitors experience what it’s like to be a part of your church?
Include a welcome video. This doesn’t have to be a professionally produced, cinema quality piece. Check out this short 20-second video from Watermark Church in Ft. Worth, TX.
Include photos from your services that show your members worshipping and fellowshipping together.
Tell them! Address some of your visitors’ concerns directly through a frequently asked questions section (see below).
5. Information for families
This tip goes along with understanding who is using your church site and what information they’re looking for. For most churches, families represent a significant part of their congregation, and those families have unique needs that other demographics don’t share.
What are some questions that families have about your church?
- How do children participate in your church? Is there a children’s program, or does your church follow a family integrated model?
- What provisions do you have for nursing moms or families with infants?
- How early should I arrive to get my kids checked in, and what does the process look like?
You can either include this information on your “new here” page, or you can include a prominent link to that info on another page.
6. Links to important info
It’s a good idea to keep your “new here” page concise and to avoid the temptation to clutter the page with all of the info about your church. One way to do that is to include links to relevant information elsewhere on your site.
Rather than including all of your staff on your “new here” page, feature your lead pastor and create a link to your staff directory. Include links to other important, more in-depth content like your beliefs, sermons, and ministries.
7. Frequently asked questions
Finally, be sure to address frequently asked questions. If you’re wondering, “What questions are visitors asking,” talk to the volunteers on your first impressions/guest services team who are listening for and answering these questions week after week. You can learn a lot about your visitors from the volunteers who you have assigned to the front lines.
What information would you look for if you were visiting a church for the first time.
The most important takeaway when considering what information you should feature on your “new here” page is to put yourself in the shoes of a guest and ask, “What would I want to know before I visited this church?”
Your job is to make it as easy as possible for believers and non-believers alike to connect with the people of God and to experience the gospel.
Is your website set up to do the job?