Getting Your Church's Website Ready for Christmas
Stop. Before you read any further, grab your mobile phone and pull up your church’s website. Now find information about your church's Christmas worship services.
Is there information about Christmas services on the website?
Is the information in a prominent, easy-to-spot location?
How long does it take to find the information? How many clicks? How many menu items deep?
Is the information appealing and invitational?
Does the information reflect the nature of worship at your church? Does it give someone a good idea of what they can expect?
Christmas arrives every year, whether we are prepared for it or not. The church pews fill with regular parishioners, folks we only see once or twice a year, and first-time visitors who felt an urge to find a church on this most holy night.
As church communicators, it would be easy to fall into the mindset that people will show up regardless of what we post on our website, and that people will generally have an idea of what to expect from a Christmas service.
And yet, as church communicators, even at this busy time of year, especially at this busy time of year, we need to make sure that people easily have the information they need to be full participants in our celebrations. Whether it’s a longtime parishioner who needs to know how to purchase altar flowers online or a first-time visitor who needs to know where to park, there are many reasons people might turn to your website this Christmas. And while they are on your website, what else might they discover?
Suggestions to get your church's website ready for Christmas
- Make information about Christmas services easy to find. An eye-catching graphic on the front page with an invitational link should take users to the information they need with one click. Don’t make users search under different menu options, click through calendar days, or scroll down, down, down. And make sure it looks as good and is as easy to find on mobile as it is on desktop!
- Choose a graphic that is reflective of your church, preferably one that beautifully shows your actual church, community, and worship, rather than using a stock image. If you must use a stock image, think about the nature of your worship. Is it candles and robed-choir members? Is it costumes, candy canes, and a children’s pageant? Choose a graphic accordingly.
- Consider first-time visitors. If the pews fill up an hour before the pageant starts, if there is a cookie exchange after the service, or if there is overflow parking in the lot down the block, make sure to let people know this upfront.
- Check service times - and not just for Christmas Eve! It should go without saying but double-check that the information is correct as far as Christmas service times. Also, make sure to change information regarding regular weekly and Sunday worship for those days impacted by the holiday. When Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, for example, are regular Sunday services being held at a different time because of the holiday? Are mid-week services canceled during the week of Christmas to New Year's? Are service times impacted by New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day? Are there hours that the church office will be closed? What about 12-step meetings or other regular meeting that occur in the church?
- Christmas brings an opportunity to do more than worship. Make sure information about Christmas outreach projects, pageants, and altar flower donations is easy to find. If your church sponsors multiple outreach projects, consider gathering all the information – items requested, whether gifts should be wrapped, dates and locations where items are to be dropped off – in one spot on your website so that people have a clear picture of all the outreach opportunities they might support. Make sure procedural information for your Christmas pageant – costume pick-up, rehearsals, registration forms – is easily available.
- Both visitors on Christmas and others connected with your church community may feel a bit more generous this time of year. Make it easy for them to give online! In addition to straight donations, what about donations for Christmas flowers or Christmas outreach initiatives? When choosing an online giving platform, make sure to consider not only the monthly fees (if any) but also the transaction costs - sometimes a higher transaction cost on a platform with no monthly fee can be more cost-effective in the long run. Look for online giving that embeds easily on your website and allows non-members to easily donate without having to log in or create an account.
- Take a quick look at the rest of your website. Are there areas that need to be cleaned up? Content that should be updated? While some visitors may decide on the spur of the moment to join you for Christmas Eve, others may research your church extensively before visiting. Your website is where they will look!
Join me on Wednesday, November 15 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm Eastern for a live web training event to learn more about getting your website ready for Advent and Christmas. Get inspired by some of the creative ways others have leveraged their MV websites to enhance their celebrations and be invitational!
written by Lisa Brown
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