Planning your church website menu
Edited extract from ‘Church Online: Websites’, available here:
Your menu needs to be led by the priorities of your audience. As the adman Steve Krug said, ‘Don’t make me think!’ It needs to be intuitive.
People probably expect…
- a logo in the top left corner
- address / phone number / Registered Charity
- number at the very bottom
- ‘Home’ at the le hand end of the main menu
- ‘Contact’ either at the righthand end of the main
- menu or in the footer
- any social media icons—for example, Facebook and Twitter—top right or at the bottom
- service times on the home page.
People probably won’t like…
- out of date content
- large, slowtoload pictures
- an incomprehensible statement of belief
- spinning logos or music
- ‘Page under construction’
- guestbooks or ‘members only’ barriers
- submenus more than two or three levels deep
When planning your menu, never lose sight of who the website is for. It’s your main church shop window. If you want people to stumble across the site via search engines, when looking for something else—local history, community groups or areas of interest, a big event, relationship advice or financial advice—you could create jargon-free ‘bridge’ pages to the main content.
Combining pages can work. For instance, ‘Beliefs and history’ could explain to architecture bu s the theological significance of your building and how it relates to your life today. ‘Contact and directions’ encourages people to visit as well as send you an email (you could go the extra mile and include details like bus routes).
Popular groups or activities could have their own page—which means that the person responsible can be in charge of keeping them up to date. Alternatively, put them all on one page as a way of showing the range of activities. It makes sense for the parent and toddler group information to be in the same place as something about Sunday activities or holiday clubs.
Your key menu headings will probably look something like this. How does your website or website plan compare?
- Questions about Christianity / What we believe / Our vision
- Who we are / Who’s who / About us
- What’s going on / Activities / Church life / Community / Events / Get involved / Get connected
- Visitors / New to us? / First visit / New to church? / Our services / Mass times / What to expect
- Our history / Facilities / Weddings / Baptisms / Funerals
- Media / Talks / Teaching / Video / Downloads
- Photos / Newsletter / Blog / Magazine / Newssheets / Stories
There’s ideas of what to include and remember for each section in the little book here, ideal for group discussion.
Laura Treneer, Bible Reading Fellowship