What does a great website for a Catholic parish or church website look like? While there are a lot of different ways we could answer that question, one of the best ways is this:
It’s not about what a website looks like, it’s about what it does.
Yes, it’s important for a website to look great, but even the best looking website won’t be able to compete with one that is built for engagement. And, when designed well, the most engaging websites are also the ones that look the best, too. In the world of website design, focusing on creating engaging websites for Catholic parishes and churches is a win-win.
Want to know what makes a church’s website engaging? Instead of a long list of features to read, here’s a list of some of our favorite websites, from Catholic parishes to Jewish synagogues. As you go through the list, you’ll see that each of these websites doesn’t just look great, but they give you everything you need to actually want to stay on their site. And, in a world of ten-second trials, wanting to spend even a few minutes on a website is a huge win.
- Calvary Albuquerque: Nearly every word on the homepage of this church’s website is a link, which means there’s a lot to do from the moment you arrive. In addition to a comprehensive menu, a scrolling slideshow complete with videos allows you to choose topics to explore while also keeping members updated on upcoming events, such as Baptisms and Bible studies. The ministries section at the bottom of the homepage are extra engaging because they show visitors the work that is physically happening within the church, inviting them to get involved both on the website and in real life.
- Saint Cecilia Parish: A slideshow of beautiful images from this parish is the first thing to grab your attention. Next to the scrolling images is a personal welcome note, which makes any visitor to this website feel right at home. But, perhaps the most engaging element on the Saint Cecilia website is the video, something that so many parishes and churches overlook. This “behind-the-scenes” look at what attending the parish is really like is not only interesting, but it helps to put visitors at ease, making them feel more confident about attending. In addition to easy to navigate menus, the homepage also includes a “What’s New” section, making it simple for members and those interested in joining the parish to see events that are happening.
- Wilshire Boulevard Temple: This Los Angeles synagogue’s website is virtually perfect in design. From a clean layout to strategic white space, landing on its homepage instantly puts you at ease while still managing to engage your senses. One of the best engaging features is the option to choose which campus you attend, which gives the visitor an opportunity to personalize their experience based on their location. Well-designed sections give you plenty to do, from perusing upcoming events to reading recent articles about the synagogue in the news and media. The Wilshire Boulevard Temple website also utilizes Calls To Action in its sections, inviting visitors to “Join Us” or “Become a Member Today.”
- The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral: The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral’s website demonstrates how simple engagement really can be. While most sliders scroll from right to left on websites, this one uses a variety of actions to make the images even more engaging, from spinning to dissolving. A bold menu at the top of the website allows visitors to get the information they need quickly, while the homepage offers answers to some of the most necessary info, like Mass times, upcoming events, announcements, and everything you need to know about receiving and contributing to their bulletin.
- Gateway Church: This popular Austin church knows how to engage visitors on its website. From its very first tab on the menu (“New Here?”) to the bold banner that scrolls along the entire top third of the homepage. A simple “Search” tool in the header allows visitors to easily explore and find what they’re looking for, while the choice to pick from four different locations (including a completely online option) gives visitors that customized experience they want. Having the ability to go through archives of past messages is another smart way that this church’s website increases the likelihood that people stay on it for much longer than the average minute or less.
- Seattle Unity: While the comprehensive footer menu helps visitors to easily navigate the website, something that Seattle Unity does well is tell stories. From its candid featured images to a highlighted section entitled “Spiritual Practice,” this website fascinates almost instantly, encouraging visitors to dig a little deeper (and stay on the pages a little longer). Because it offers its members a unique blend of many different religious and spiritual teachings, even the “Coming Events” sidebar is interesting to scroll through.
Like everything in web design, there isn’t a one size fits all design, especially when it comes to engagement. What your church or parish needs to stay engaged will be different from another church or parish. If you want help designing a website that engages your unique visitors, let our team at FreshySites help you get started!