Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made

Why we made the mistakes:

We got a website because we thought it was right, cool, and modern. Since we didn’t know anything, everyone appeared to be an expert to us.

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10 Church Website Mistakes We Made

Mistake #1 | We had no idea what we were doing

There were too many experts and opinions and too many ‘don’t care’s. It seemed everyone had an uninformed opinion, an issue that must be said or addressed to be approved. Our Church website was either a lone wolf project or a committee. It was an afterthought. Some wanted to look like someone else, and some wanted a particular URL, thinking that was the answer to the URL. www.myawesomechurch.cool was how the web worked. We had no goals or plans.

Lessons Learned:

Get a vision approved, then make the team (technical, content, graphic design, SEO & Audience)

Too many opinions

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made

Too many people had opinions about what it should look like or who to copy, and no one told us what it was supposed to do.

Mistake #2 | We got carried away with bells and whistles

The website was overly complicated; we got carried away with bells and whistles We didn’t understand what ‘clean design’ was really all about. We had a video, sliders, blog posts, calendars, events, promotions, etc.

Lessons Learned:

Get a vision approved, then make the team (technical, content, graphic design, SEO & Audience)

Too Busy

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Our website was distracting

Mistake #3 | We made a webpage for our current members.

We told the church what it already knew, our location and service times. Our church bulletin was a better source of information than our website. We saw no growth in the church after the website was created, nor should we have expected any.

Lessons Learned:

The website is for people to learn about us, not those who already knows about us.

The church is for the outsider

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Our Website for those already inside

Mistake #4 | We didn’t have a plan for content creation

Once the website was done, we treated it like a picture of the wall. It is to be looked at and admired occasionally and dusted off once a year if we remember. We soon learned that those curious about our church found the website off-putting. Year-old announcements and nothing showing that we were a vibrant, growing church. How we do Website design and Content.

Lessons Learned:

Sermons, Worship, Events, and Missions are great content-producing tools. We just needed to create a system to get that info on the web routinely.

Churches produce Content

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Churches are content-producing machines.

Mistake #5 | We didn’t optimize our site for search engines.

We didn’t know what SEO was (Search Engine Optimization), what it was used for, why it existed, or why we should care. We built the entire website without knowing about keywords, Google Search Console, or Google Analytics. This is what we learned about measuring websites.

Here was our measure of the website “Some people thought it was pretty.” We soon learned first the measure they to write content so that it was quality, original, and useful. This is what we know about SEO today; we will update it tomorrow.

Lessons Learned:

Search Engines DO NOT Care if your website is pretty. They only care if it is effective and users like using it.

The World could have been watching

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
We did not know who was watching

Mistake #6 | We didn’t optimize our site for mobile view.

We built the website on a desktop, viewed it on the desktop, and assumed it looked the same on the phone. It did not. It was slow and awkward and took far too long to scroll through to get to any meaningful content. Our Lessons about being Mobile Friendly.

Lessons Learned:

We learned this far too late. On a Desktop, you click with a mouse; on the phone, you scroll with your thumb. The user experience is very different. The information must be front-loaded, not after two pretty photos and a welcome note.

Built for a Desktop

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Viewed mostly by phones

Mistake #7 | We didn’t Track and Optimize Performance.

We used about a dozen plugins on our WordPress site to make the content look pretty or do something we thought was cool. These plugins, plus Page Builders, slowed our website down and induced multiple errors from the conflicts as the plugins updated at different rates and with different successes. Large uncompressed images and no cache plugin also hurt. Google calls these Core Vitals, which affect the user experience.

Lessons Learned:

Page Speed really means a great user experience. It is not a race for the fastest; it is making your guest room welcoming. This is what we learned from Website Performance Optimization.

Too Slow

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
We started to learn about our users and treat them as our guests.

Mistake #8 | Never heard of local SEO

If we had a million people view our website, but none were within driving distance of the church, what good was it? It was good for our ego, nothing else. We learned these are called Vanity Metrics; these big numbers made us feel better, but they were not the reality we hoped for.

Lessons Learned:

Focus on the local market with Google My Business (now called Google Business profile); it is the best way to get real, local SEO results. Your Website will then be shown by Google My Business, and you have a great mix.

Local SEO is different than SEO

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Local is better for you, worse for your ego

Mistake #9 | We did not have a Plan

The website is unlike a sign in front of the church that says ‘service’ at 9 am and 11 am on Sunday. It is like a reflection of who you are. Your Website is your identity to most people who have not met you yet.
You should build your website in stages, see what works, remove non-performing content, and double down on what works.

Lessons Learned:

Every page and subject on your website has a reason for being there. Everything points to one purpose, one goal.

No Plan

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made

Mistake #10 | We guess and hope for keywords, not researched

We wrote about what we cared for and thought about. Not what people wanted or needed to read. We made ourselves feel good; we did not answer questions, fix problems, or encourage anyone.

Lessons Learned:

First, find out what people want. We use Google Trends for help. We match our expertise with the need. That is our current and successful growth strategy. Second, we are small, so our niche is small; we just write a small group of people with common interests, not all of Christendom.

Write to their need

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made

Don’t write to my need.

More – 10 Church Websites Mistakes We Made

Mistake #Bonus Mistakes

here are some small mistakes, but they still hurt us.

Not triple-checking Spelling and Grammar. |Some help Grammarly, a Website Spell Checker

Afraid to be different | The web is full of mediocrity; be different or blend in.

Stock photos | We had the same Holy picture of a guy praying as over 1000 websites.

Understanding above the fold | What a person sees without scrolling, they make the decision to stay here

Crowded content, fear of white space | Be easy on the eyes

More Mistakes

Church Websites 10 Embarrassing Mistakes We Made
Mediocre is the norm, be different