For today’s online visitors, websites are required to do a whole lot of things at once. While being responsive is a given, they also need to look fresh and current, which typically means having a clean design, one that can be easily navigated thanks to bold fonts, color blocking, and smart calls to action. But, websites also need to be unique enough to showcase personality, demonstrating that there is a unique perspective to share, one that isn’t relying on cookie-cutter templates to convey what they want to say. And then, of course, there’s a whole lot of little nuances that add to the experience, website features that engage, direct, and, most importantly, appeal to a specific target audience.
Sound like a lot to accomplish?
Well, for churches, the bar is set even higher.
When people get online to learn more about a church, they’re wanting to feel a certain sense of inspiration, something that pulls them to not just click on a button, but to actually (and often physically) join a real, living-breathing community.
For churches, websites need to not just make a great first impression, they need to make a lasting impression. And, in order to do that, everything, from the design to the functionality, needs to work in tandem.
As we take a closer look at the best church websites this summer, pay attention to the design details, appreciating things like incredibly fast page loads and out-of-the-box layouts.
The 7 Best Church Websites, Summer 2019
This Austin-based church uses bold modern fonts with plenty of space between each letter to grab your attention. Not what you might expect from a church, which can have a reputation for being stuffy and outdated, Gateway also implements a slider on the homepage, welcoming you to their community with images and a glimpse into their church life. Immediately under the scrolling slider, visitors can find essential information, like locations and times of services. More original images on the website add to the experience, showcasing things like people watching services directly from their phones, which simultaneously tells the visitor that the church is technologically savvy, as well as inclusive. A thoughtful menu at the top of the homepage frames the online experience in a positive light, using phrases like “New Here?” and “Next Steps” to encourage exploration.
People love going to church because they feel like part of a community. Because the Nashville First Baptist Church website makes you feel welcome instantly, visitors feel hopeful that, yes, they’ve found the community they’re looking for. Avoiding feeling over-the-top, the website comes off as relaxed yet cool, using community updates and candid video clips to make you feel right at home. Its bold color scheme, which uses pops of orange to grab your attention, helps visitors know where to go next. In fact, one of the boldest sections on the homepage features a button that says, “Not sure where to go? Click here for our facilities map”, which feels like an extended hand offering to literally show you around their church’s home.
Phoenix’s Hillsong Church website is a great example of a website that feels fresh and updated. Large images, including an inspiring photo of the sun rising over downtown Phoenix, grab your attention, while blocks of content give you the information you need — without being too wordy or overwhelming. A bold all-black section entitled “Next Steps” encourages online visitors to take action, from volunteering to attending an evening college class at the church. Small features, like a one-line, easy-to-use prayer request form, keep everyone within the community connected.
This thoughtfully designed church website for Raleigh, North Carolina’s Lifepointe Church keeps its homepage super simple. Composed of just five sections – the main menu, an image slider, a content section, a blog post gallery, and the footer menu – visitors feel instantly at ease. Far from overwhelming or complicated, the website encourages you to click and explore. One of the most engaging features on the website is the featured “Try 5” challenge, which asks new visitors to try five weeks at the church to see if it’s the right fit for them. This simple call to action is both effective and welcoming, giving visitors something to do, rather than just information that they need.
Rather than overwhelming the senses with huge bright images, the New Denver Church website does something a little surprising: It uses black and white images as the first thing visitors see. But, rather than looking outdated or even boring, the effect is calming and engaging, making you curious to learn more. To make sure you know that they are current, the website also pulls in social media feeds from Facebook and Twitter, showing you that they’re active online and within the community. The church also has a podcast, which is easy to find and subscribe to on the website. The entire design and layout is intuitive, like the double main menu, making it super easy to find what you’re looking for.
When it comes to a truly unique website design, Mannahouse Church in Portland, Oregon knows how to get it done. An unconventional mosaic design, the homepage oozes with personality. The color scheme, which uses unexpected pops of red, blue, pink, and orange, is thoughtfully infused throughout the website, making it look like a bold choice rather than an accident. Without anywhere to really scroll on the homepage, visitors are asked to choose from the animated boxes of content, which brighten, darken, and reveal content to grab your attention. Like any unique website, Mannahouse Church’s does a good job keeping navigation simple, placing a search tool and a condensed menu in the upper right corner of the homepage. Rather than labeling sections “About” or “Locations”, the website feels more inviting with text like “I’m New To Church” and “Where Is Mannahouse?” Videos and non-stock images add to the personality, making visitors want to discover more each time they click.
This beautiful website does a couple of things right when it comes to design right out of the gate. First, it uses bright contrasting colors (blue and yellow) to grab your attention. Second, it takes advantage of its first impression with a headline that reads, “Welcome Home. We Love You Already”. And because of the scrolling video clips, which are filtered with an easy-to-look-at blue, visitors are immediately pulled into the experience. (And did you see how fast it all loaded?) Another cool feature on the website is the minimal navigation menu located on the right-side of the page, showing you where you are within the website and making it easy to find your way back to a section. The social media links at the bottom are just an added bonus, allowing visitors to stay connected on a variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.