Community bible church

Connecting People through your Church Website

We have better opportunities than ever to more effectively connect people on our websites.  Rather than than just giving people information, you should look to share information and give an opportunity for them to connect immediately. These opportunities can range from event registrations, small group information, volunteer opportunities and more.  

Here are some best practices in connecting people through online forms on your website:

  1. Keep Forms Simple - if you ask for too much information people are less likely to complete the forms.  Ask for the bare minimum that provides for most effective follow up and next steps.

  2. Connect Forms to Database - when possible connecting forms to your church database is extremely valuable.  This integration allows for more effective follow up and long term understanding of your church members and the information that they are interested in.  

  3. Embed Forms into the Website - linking out to an external form often creates confusion for those your are looking to connect.  Using forms that embed seamlessly into your website is optimal.  

  4. Make Sure Forms are Mobile Responsive - it is likely that more than half of your website browsing on a mobile device. You need to make sure that your forms function well on a mobile device.  

At Community Bible Church we have chosen to use Formstack integrating with our Fellowship One Database. For my business I love using Squarespace and Squarespace forms. Another great option that many churches are using is Wufoo.  

I would love to hear what technologies and best practices that you are using!  

Launching the New

Yesterday we launched the new after almost a year of planning, developing and populating. It has been a roller coaster ride to say the least as we began the journey to build a new site from a brand new perspective. I want to give you all a look under the hood at some of our intentionality behind the site as we began this process and have come to this point of launch.  Here are some of the core functional shifts of this new website:

  1. Guest Experience - through our Analytics tracking we were able to find that 40% of our traffic were first time visitors from the San Antonio area. We wanted to optimize the site for them first, thinking through what the guest will need to experience from checking out our website to attending a service. We established this through simplifying our homepage experience while also amplifying the first impression through the motion graphics and creating a clear primary call to action to Plan Your Visit to one of our worship services. 
  2. MultiSite Infrastructure - one of the biggest changes in the life of our church is moving from a 1 campus mega church to a MultiSite church. With this shift organizationally our website infrastructure had to change and we needed to create an infrastructure that communicated the uniqueness of all of our campuses in a unified way. We established this through the campus selection at the top of the website with identical primary navigation for each campus. We are eager to see how people navigate the site in this new way!
  3. Simplicity - being a church of 20,000+ with multiple campuses and services in multiple languages both online and in person is naturally complicated.  While we were a 1 campus church our existing website had grown to over 300 pages and that is after we attempted to simplify it a couple of years ago. It happens and I know that what we are launching with will likely expand in the coming weeks and months. We were able to simplify the site significantly from 300 pages to 60 at launch. That came with many arm wrestling sessions, but we got there and believe this simplified navigation will significantly enhance the website experience for both our visitors and our members.
  4. Database Integration - this was the biggest challenge for me. In the past I have worked around our database, but I grew up and came to the understanding that we needed to prioritize database integration with our forms, our group connections, and our giving.  Honestly, this is where we still need to work moving forward as we must create a seamless experience between our website and our database to best engage our congregation in the most connected way. I think we took some great steps forward though in this area.
  5. Unified Language - in the past each ministry area submitted content and we edited for grammatical changes, but this time we hired a copy writer to rewrite every piece of content using unified language and establishing a conversational tone to every word on the site. This might be the most under noticed aspect to the site, but possibly the most effective addition that we made.  

There are probably many other details that I'm leaving out, but these are the first 5 things that come to mind as I think through the past year and look at the site that just launched. The truth is, the site is only launching and this is just the beginning. We already have a list of updates that we will begin working on tomorrow and a list of new developments that we will start working on next week. Websites should always live in a state of "Beta."  So, our website is not done, but I am glad to announce that it has officially launched!

I would love to know your thoughts and any questions that you might have about the site.

I want to also say a special thank you to the Innovation and MarCom teams at CBC and to PlainJoe Studios who did an incredible job building out this site together. Thank you to everyone involved in this project and to CBC for entrusting my leadership with this critical ministry resource.