THE “EXTERIOR” OF A CHURCH WEBSITE
Grace and peace to you during this special season of Lent. Church Plant Media here again to unpack our thoughts about how it can be helpful to understand that A Church Website = an Online Building. In the blog post at that link we outlined how churches can think about their web presence using these 5 key terms: Cornerstone, Foundation, Floorplan, Exterior, and Entrance. Today we would like to consider the Exterior.
Here is how we defined the Exterior of a church website:
The exterior is the outer expression of the building. It is what people see before they walk through the front door. Some churches have steeples and siding, others have brick, mortar, and concrete, while others might have a renovated store front. The same concept applies to your website. In the same way the physical walls must be sturdy, a great website design must be more than just skin deep. Your church website should be built to address both search engine visibility and the design preferences within your church culture.
When you think about the exterior of your church building a few things may come to mind. Depending on your background you may have differing thoughts about the outside of the building. Some people only see the visible “style” of the building (wood, metal, or plastic siding; brick, stone, or concrete work). While others may think about the actual “structure” or framing that holds up the exterior (wood beams or structural steel). Both aspects (inside and out) are needed when planning both a public meeting space and a website.
Style — judging a book by its cover
Although my mother always taught me not to “judge a book by its cover” the reality is that every book has a cover because we all pass judgement on books based on their cover design. If you don’t believe that covers matter, just visit your local Barnes & Noble and walk through the aisles. In the same way that people judge a book by its cover and a building by the exterior, people will think differently about the church based on the design style of the church website whether we like it or not.
In the same way that you (or the church members before you) took time to consider your siding, you also need to take some time to consider your website design and how adequately it conveys your church. What is important to your church and how well does the website design convey who you are and what you are all about? What are your church colors and do they feature prominently in your website? What is your design aesthetic and how does the website reflect the look-and-feel of your church?
Structure — more than just skin deep
When talking about the book and its cover, my mother was trying to help me understand that true beauty is more than just skin deep. We can think about buildings and websites in the same way. Although the exterior matters a great deal, if it cannot stand up to the effects of severe weather, then it does not matter how pretty it looks when it is built. Similarly, even if a website looks great on the outside, it is relatively worthless if a search engine can not find it online.
Design matters to a visitor but code and content matters more to search engines. When a search engine displays a result, it could care less what the website looks like. Google and Bing are looking for websites that match a keyword search like “church in city, state”. Although your search rank is based on a number of factors related to your website content, if your website is not coded properly it may not matter what keywords you feature. It is like the old adage, “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Or in Internet terms: if your website looks great but search engines can’t find it, do you really have a website?
If you would like to learn more about how to have a website that is both easy on the eyes and easy to find online, feel free to give us a call at the number below.
Your friends at Church Plant Media | (800) 409-6631 x 1