What's in this session?

  • Defining what a slider is (0:38)
  • Of the 1,008 church websites that we tested, 76.1% lacked a primary focal point (1:22)
  • Churches love sliders, but why? (1:53)
  • Bottom line: prioritize your external audience (3:21)
  • Sliders have a clickthrough rate of less than 1% (3:55)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Perfect Church Homepage Infographic – a complete visual breakdown of the essential elements that every church website homepage needs

The Transcript

Speaker 1: Pro Church Daily is brought to you by Nucleus, a new kind of website builder for churches. From single-click templates to advanced integrations, Nucleus is unlike anything else. Nucleus opens on March 20th, head to nucleus.church to join the launch list. Why just have a website, when you could have a Nucleus?

Alex MIlls: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined, as always, by the boss man, it’s Brady [Shearer 00:00:32]. Today, we’re talking about one simple reason that you should never use a slider on your church’s website.

Brady Shearer: Let’s first start this episode of Pro Church Daily, Alex, by defining what a church website slider is or what the website slider is. Also known as a carousel or a slideshow, this is the box usually positioned at the top of a website, that has multiple slide that auto rotate. So, you land on a church’s website and you’ll see a slide and it says, “Welcome home.” And then within three to five seconds, that slide will rotate automatically, without the use or clicking, it will just happen. And then the next slide will be like, “Men’s breakfast, happening Saturday morning 8:00 a.m. see you there.” And then it will slide too, another.

Now, this is one of the most populous sections segments strategies that churches use and employ on their websites. We did a case study looking at more than a thousand different church websites, and we found that out of those 1,008 websites that we analyzed, 76.1% lacked a primary focal point. If your church’s website is using a slider at the top of your homepage, you would fall into that category. One of the churches that lacks a primary focal point. Because if you have a slider, that, by definition, cannot be a primary focal point because a slider … To be a slider, necessitates multiple focal points.

Alex MIlls: Right.

Brady Shearer: This is important. There’s a reason why churches love sliders. The reason is that the theory behind the slider is that, it allows you to showcase multiple different promotions in a single area.

Alex MIlls: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: To prove a point, churches loving sliders, I actually went to one of the most popular, if not the most popular website theme market places on the internet. This is themeforest.net of the Envato network. I went to their search bar and I typed in just a single key word, church. Their search results returned 30 results on each page. I looked at the first 30 search results that came up, best map to the key word, church. So, these are like the most popular church website themes in the world basically. Of those 30 themes on the first page, 25 out of those 30, had church website sliders at the very top of the page. So, that is 80+% of church website themes, that are using sliders at the very top. So, if you’re a church, and you wanna get a WordPress theme or a website theme html or otherwise, you might think that sliders are awesome because pretty much every theme has them. 

Alex MIlls: Right.

Brady Shearer: Like I said, the idea behind sliders isn’t necessarily poor that the thought behind it, which is, we can show a bunch of different themes, and that makes it easy.

Alex MIlls: Yeah. Exactly.

Brady Shearer: But, the data very clearly proves that it doesn’t work that way, and this idea doesn’t actually work out in practice. 

The other thing to keep in mind when it comes to sliders is that, it’s probably helpful to use a slider in the sense that you are gonna be able to sign off with your department, with your ministries, and with your pastor pretty easily. This is another reason why sliders are so popular amongst churches, is that it solves that problem, hey, what should go on the website? What deserves the top of the page? What should we put in the most prominent location?

Alex MIlls: Let’s put everything there.

Brady Shearer: Exactly. This is good for the internal operation of a church, but it doesn’t serve the user or visitor to your website well. The data proves this empirically.

So, this is a study conducted by Notre Dame University. It found that sliders have a click-through rate of less than one percent.

Alex MIlls: That’s terrible. 

Brady Shearer: Furthermore, 84% of the clicks in this study, were on the first slide in the rotation.

Alex MIlls: Of course, yeah.

Brady Shearer: Essentially, even if you have three, five, seven, nine slides in your carousel, more than eight out of 10 of the visitors to your slide are clicking on the first one anyway. If you’re wondering, less than one percent click-through, that sounds bad, but what’s the average? Well, the industry average is around 3.5%. And so, less than one percent means four times worse than the industry average. 

That industry average, that study, it looks at click-through rate everywhere. Not just the top of the page, the primary call to action. That’s what your slider is, it’s the very first thing on a website, it’s the primary call to action. So, they have that low of a click-through rate is frankly just abysmal.

Alex MIlls: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: There are multiple studies that back this up. This is not an isolated study. Another study by a digital agency called beacon fire, looked exclusively at non-profit websites that were using sliders. And so, this is even more specific and close to the church world. And again, this study found a click-through rate of less than one percent. Final study that I found by Search Engine Land looked at a number of different sites in this study. A total of 768,000 plus total page views. So, three quarters of a million page views. That resulted in a total of 1,287 clicks on the slider, which is a balmy 0.17% click-through rate.

Alex MIlls: Not so great.

Brady Shearer: If your primary call to action on your website is getting at least four times less clicks than the average click-through rate across all industries, you might wanna consider doing something different.

Alex MIlls: Yeah. You should probably do something about that.

Brady Shearer: It’s frankly just not working well. What you don’t wanna do in this case, is prioritize the internal operations of your church and the internal function of making the Men’s Ministry happy and the Women’s Ministry happy, and the pastor happy, and by doing that, sacrifice the experience of a new visitor.

Alex MIlls: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Because the end of the day, your goal is to make a good first impression with your church’s website. That should be the primary aim. The data shows that sliders do not create a good user experience for your visitors, and that’s what’s gonna contribute to a bad first impression.

Again, the theory of the slider is simple. A user sees a variety of different promotions and clicks on the one that most interest them, right? It just in practice, does not work that way. The data is clear, it’s a bad experience for your users, and it’s a bad experience for you, the creator of the website because people aren’t clicking, people aren’t taking action. And that’s, at the end of the day, what you want your website to accomplish.

Alex MIlls: Yeah. And as somebody who’s built multiple church websites on volunteer hours in the past, at face value, a slider seems like a great idea. Like you said, you have lots of things. Maybe lots of things happening this week, you wanna let your people know about them. It’s like, “Oh, we can put them all at the top of the website. We don’t have to put it on other page, or people don’t have to scroll, it will all be here.” It seems like a good idea, but I love what you said and it’s imperative. We’ve kinda made this shift and [Parchia 00:07:03] Orchards. Not just on our website our web presence, but just in all the decisions we’re making at church.

Instead of making them from our perspective, from the church goers prospective, from the someone who’s been a part of this church for a long time, who knows things, we’ve started intentionally thinking, “Okay, how would a first time visitor perceive this? How would somebody who doesn’t know anything about church feel at this moment in our service? What would they think about this? Do we need to explain this more?” 

For anyone who’s been on another website that’s not a church website and seen a slider, you’ve probably run into one of these problems where you’re looking at what you think is a primary focal point, and boom it’s gone. And then you’re trying to find the little arrows to determine, “How do I click to get back to that?” Now you’re lost, you’re two sides deep. Practically, that they just don’t work. We think from our perspective, like you said, from the operation staff perspective, “This is a great idea.” But from the first-time visitors’ perspective, and these are the people you’re eating with your website. This is who your website is built for. It’s just not working for them. So, let’s find a better way.

Brady Shearer: Speaking of a better way, we don’t wanna just crucify sliders and then not give you a better option. If you go to the Nucleus blog, blog.nucleus.church, we’ve got a big article there on website sliders. You can find all of the data that we’ve included in this episode of Pro Church Daily, as well as our recommended alternatives to the church website slider. There is a better way, and we detail in full in that article. 

Alex MIlls: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Before we leave, we’ve got another free resource for you, and that is our ultimate church website page template library. It’s a free download that you can get a prochurchtools.com/nucleus in there. There are seven different church website page templates that we’ve put together. Pre-written copy, pre-structured, download is 100% free. This is the exact copy that we would use on our church’s website for pages such as the staff page, the I am new page, the plan a visit page. Really some of the most important pages on your church’s website. Go get that free download if you haven’t already, prochurchtools.com/nucleus. 

Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you in another episode of Pro Church Daily.

Speaker 1: Hey, thanks for listening to today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. If you haven’t already, head to prochurch.com/nucleus to download our ultimate library of church website page template. Pre-written copy, structured the exact way we would do, if we had these pages on our websites. prochurchtools.com/nucleus is the place to download those.



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