Websites are like a box of chocolates. Though you may “never know what you’re gonna get”, the heart of this comparison is that there are a variety of pages, with some being more popular than others, just like in a box of chocolates. For your site visitors, it is essential not only that these popular, important pages exist on your website, but also that they are easy to find!
To extend the analogy, just as some people prefer the caramel-filled, while others prefer the nougat filled chocolates, your website will different audiences with different needs. Your goal should be to provide adequate information to your current parishioners as well as any newcomers to your church or the Orthodox Christian Faith. Failing to do this can mean inconvenience for regular attendees or perhaps the loss of those who otherwise would have made their first visit.
Here is a list of critical content that church websites often miss. Use it to identify and fill gaps in your own church website. Doing so can help your current parishioners and, more importantly, newcomers to your church or the Orthodox Christian Faith to step through your doors.
Contact Information & Location
- Be sure that your parish’s address and phone number are included in your site footer
- Create a page with your parish’s address, phone numbers (mainline, fax, emergency calls, etc.), an embedded Google map, and directions (if desired)
- Include a link to this page from your site’s main navigation
- Links to Social Media channels are useful
- Service Times
- Create a page with service information
- Make sure it’s accurate and relevant! (don’t list summer hours in mid-December!)
- Display these times directly on your homepage or in the footer also
- Use an embedded Google calendar on your homepage and on a calendar page for a dynamic listing of upcoming services. Learn more about adding a calendar to your site by reading our support article titled Adding Google Calendar to my website
- If your parish does not have a Google Calendar account, consider reading these articles from Google to learn more about how to get started:
- Setting up a Google Calendar account
- Creating events in Google Calendar
Visitors to your parish website may want to learn about your community before visiting
- A brief history of your church (include a few clear photos to complement the text)
- A link to an ‘Our Faith’ section
- Parish Clergy (photo, contact information, short biography)
- Essential Parish Staff (photo, contact information, short biography)
- Some parishes have also included a ‘Parish Etiquette’ or ‘New Visitor’ page so that newcomers have an idea of what to expect when they visit for the first time.
Here is an example of what an ‘About Us’ section might look like for your parish: http://templates.goarch.org/about/welcome
Your parish website can be educational and evangelical for those who may not fully understand the beliefs of the Orthodox Christian Church or may not know about the Church at all. Here is an example of what that might look like for your parish: http://templates.goarch.org/our-faith/introduction
You should make it clear to your visitors who your Bishop is and in which Metropolis your parish resides. It can be as simple as listing your Hierarch(s) in the About our Clergy section and listing the name of your Metropolis or Jurisdiction in your site header or footer.
Ministries and Activities
Present your ministries and other activities of your parish so that parishioners and newcomers alike can get to know your community better. A good description and a photo will go a long way. In your description, you will want to answer the following questions::
- Who can participate in this ministry?
- What does this ministry offer?
- Where and When does it meet?
- Why should someone join?
- How can someone learn more?
Here is what a ministry page might look like for your parish: http://templates.goarch.org/about/ministries
Your website should reflect the dynamic and unique qualities of your parish community. The list we presented above is simply a starting point. Feel free to customize your approach to make the website your own!
For more information to improve your parish’s web presence, check out our other articles at support.goarch.org or contact us at the Department of Internet Ministries at internet.goarch.org !