Today's post was written by our Communications Director at Mission. His name is Daniel Larsen and he is a genius. He is behind the evolution of WeAreMission.com and the Mission Church Mobile App. Today, he's going to talk to you about your church's front door...enjoy!
If your website could talk what would it say? Actually a better question might be; would you listen?
This might sound like a strange way to interact with your organization's website but my guess is if you look at your site’s analytics dashboard, the dip in traffic can make even the craziest analogy sound sane.
Though no one has the super-secret-formula to a perfect website, I’ve found that, if we can ask the right questions, our “digital front doors” have a lot to say. Below you’ll find 5 essential questions to filter any site through to produce actionable insight.
One quick disclaimer: Ask at your own risk! With awareness comes the responsibility to choose between two ideals; the one we know and the one that we were just exposed to. Your website will answer your questions. The variable is - what will you do with the answers?
Is it intuitive?
This might seem basic, but we have to start somewhere. Through wanted (and unwanted) feedback we’ve found that no matter how slick our site looked, there are a few things that people just need to find easily. Like location and gathering times for example. (Yep, I hid those three clicks deep at one point…) Do your buttons make sense? Are there dead-ends? If someone wanted to donate to your church how, long would it take them? Try using your site to do basic tasks a new guest might do. If it takes you 60 seconds, you can bet that a newcomer already gave up and is watching that cute cat video on YouTube again.
Is it responsive?
There are a lot of stats out there about the increase in mobile web traffic but I’ll share ours with you to make it more personal. 62% of our YTD traffic is from devices that don’t like the desktop version of our website. Which means if our site didn’t have a mobile responsive version, we’d have better luck reaching people with carrier pigeons. If your platform, template, or site builder doesn’t support mobile responsiveness stop reading and switch to one that does.
Is it meaningful?
Yep, we’re still talking about technology. Just because we access our websites through complex machines that think in ones and zeros doesn’t mean there isn’t a real human heart involved. Daniel H. Pink puts it this way:
Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world.
If we want to reach people's hearts and minds with any sort of authenticity we must understand that the days of thoughtless design and clipart are over. What does someone feel when they visit your site? Do they get the impression that your organization even cares what they are feeling?
Is it simple?
Let’s face it, if our sites don’t help people remember us then what’s the point? In an article by StoryBrand Donald Miller says this about the difference simplicity can make in user engagement:
“… If I’m being bombarded with information that I don’t need, my brain recognizes it as noise and tunes out. But when you give your message structure and clarity, the brain knows how to engage, follow along, and remember.”
Can you use less words to communicate the same thing? Does that welcome video have to auto-play? Is that newsletter pop-up really the first thing you want people to experience? After all, websites can do a lot of cool things, but we need to intentionally ask ourselves; “should it?”
Is it yours?
The solution to this question might not be possible for every organization, however I do hope it begins an important conversation that must be had. Who has the keys to your “digital front door?” The answer can make or break your sites effectiveness and security. If at all possible operation of your site should be done in-house. Bad-blood isn’t just the title to a Taylor Swift song. A rogue volunteer or that friend of a friend that knows WordPress isn’t going to give you a heads-up before locking you out of your site when the Pastor says something they don’t agree with. In-house site management also allows for quicker distribution of information along with the flexibility to change things on the fly.
I hope these questions help not only you and your organization but your users as well. Websites are endlessly complex, ever-outdated, and effortless in frustrating even the most seasoned tech guru; yet to create one that is helpful can be as simple as listening.
Give your website a check-up. If you want to open the front door of your church wider, click here!