Have you ever visited a website that just made you cringe a little? Maybe the content was out-of-date, the homepage was confusing and jumbled, or maybe it just looked old. Whatever the reason, you probably took a quick look, made that cringy face, and then quickly hit the red ‘X’ at the top of your browser. Don’t be that website!
From the very first moment someone visits your parish’s website, they are going to get an idea of what your parish is about. It’s important to make sure the message you are conveying is the one you want to convey. This is done by taking the time to regularly evaluate and improve your parish website.
We’ve put together a list of ways that you can evaluate and improve your parish website so you can be sure that nobody makes the cringy face when they land on your homepage.
Find Out What People Are Saying About Your Site
Your parish website exists to help and to serve real people. Not personas or target groups, but actual people. Because of this, the first and best way to evaluate your parish website is to hear the truth from people who visit. There are a few ways that you can do this.
Send Out a Survey
A survey is a great way to get a feel for people’s thoughts about your site. In the survey ask questions about how easy things are to find, what the overall feel of the site is, and if they would direct a visitor to your site. This can be telling.
Another way to get an idea about how people feel about your site is by simply asking around. Ask different groups of people from different demographics to get a more accurate response. If you really want to pursue this route, consider recruiting some people to ask around. Keep in mind that if people know that you are involved in creating and maintaining the church website, you might get a biased response, so recruit people that are removed from the process.
Include a Place for Feedback on Your Site
Lastly, consider creating a page on your parish website designed just for feedback. Integrate a form from your ParishSOFT Giving software and let people fill it out with things that they would like to see improved or different on your site. This is a great and easy way to capture people’s thoughts toward your site.
Steps for Improvement
Once you’ve gathered input and opinions from people, be sure to put a plan in place to execute on the feedback received. It’s one thing to hear from people, but it’s a whole other thing to listen to them and take action based on what you hear. Consider compiling a list of all the feedback and then meeting with your website team to plan how to implement the list. Prioritize the feedback based on urgency.
Take a Look at the Stats
The next way that you can evaluate your parish website is to look at the website statistics. The best way to gather website statistics is by connecting Google Analytics to your website, or by using the reporting feature from your content management system. Looking at Google Analytics can be overwhelming, so here are a few key stats to focus on.
- Traffic Source – how are people getting to your site?
- Top Pages – what pages do people visit the most?
- Time on Site – how much time are people spending on your site? Are there specific pages that people spend more time on than others?
- Audience – what kind of visitors is your church website attracting?
- Call-to-Action (CTA) Click Through Rates – which CTAs are people clicking on the most? Are there any that people don’t use?
These stats can tell you a lot about who comes to your site, what they do when they get there, and why they stay (or don’t). Try to keep an eye on these numbers monthly or quarterly so you can get a better idea of trends too.
Steps for Improvement
Gathering statistics and leaving them in a pretty spreadsheet isn’t going to do you much good in the long run. Be sure to set goals and put a plan in place to improve the statistics that need improving and maintain the statistics that are good. Consider revisiting these goals quarterly to see what goals are being met and which ones need to be tweaked.
Stay Up-To-Date on Church Website Trends
Lastly, one of the best ways you will be able to evaluate your parish website is knowing how it measures up to the latest in parish website trends. If your website looks old and outdated, chances are people won’t stick around long even if your content is clear. Take some time to learn what the current trends are and how you can use them on your parish website.
When it comes to trends, keep in mind that less is more. You don’t have to jump on every single trend bandwagon to have a relevant parish website. Incorporating one or two will go a long way. What you don’t want is a site that looks dated and has outdated content and features.
Steps for Improvement
As stated above, identify one or two current website trends and come up with a plan to incorporate them on your parish website. While you are doing this, also plan to remove any content or features that are dated.
Parish websites can be used to do so many things, and encouraging giving is one of them. If you haven’t set up online giving on your site yet, there’s no better time. ParishSOFT Giving automatically posts your contributions to ParishSOFT Offering and Pledges and allows your parishioners to give online, through a mobile app, through text giving, or via giving kiosk. Contact the ParishSOFT sales department at 866-930-4774 x6 to learn more.