The 5 Elements Every Church Website Needs At The Top Of Its Homepage | Ep. #045

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

February 28th, 2018

Brady has described in depth why you shouldn’t have a slider on your website, so in this episode he talks about what you should put on your website instead.

February is the month of giveaways! All of these giveaways will be happening over on Instagram, so be sure to give Brady a follow – @BradyShearer – he will be sharing what the giveaways are, as well as how to participate throughout the month.

What’s In This Session?

  • #1 – Logo (2:01)
  • #2 – Navigation Menu (2:54)
  • #3 – Headline (5:15)
  • #4 – Call-To-Action (6:14)
  • #5 – Inspirational Imagery (7:11)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Brady Shearer: 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’ll 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. Today, we’re talking about the five elements that every church website needs to have on its homepage.

Brady Shearer: On episodes 42 and 43 of Pro Church Daily, we talked about how your church’s website definitely never ever, ever wants to use a website slider at the top of the homepage. Of course this leads to the question: Well, what should we replace it with?

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: If you go to the Nucleus blog, we have an article there titled The 11-Part Church Website Homepage Formula. These are the 11 necessary elements of every church website homepage and that details the entire homepage. But, on this episode of Pro Church Daily, we wanted to talk about the five necessary elements that would replace a slider at the top of a homepage. This is often called the above the fold section of a website. Basically when you navigate to a website before you begin scrolling, the above the fold section is the very first thing that you see that fills your page before you begin scrolling. We are now conditioned to scroll on websites. The above the fold section has become a little less important than it used to be, but first impressions on websites are made in about 0.05 seconds. Your above the fold section, the very top of your homepage is crucially important when it comes to helping to form that first impression.

We have a multitude of data that speaks to the necessary elements that a visitor is looking to. Namely there are five in total and we want to go over each of them in this episode of Pro Church Daily. The first thing that should be at the top of your homepage is your logo, not exactly surprising. But in a study conducted by Missouri S&T, participants were shown 25 different websites. The researchers used eye tracking software and an infrared camera so it was super advanced, cool, futuristic.

Alex Mills: Cool.

Brady Shearer: The researchers monitored the eye movement of the participants as they scanned through the webpage. Here’s what they found. The logo section of a webpage is the section that drew the most attention from the participants, on average 6.48 seconds. In the Nucleus framework, we put church’s logo front and center, not even to the left, up in the top left of the nav menu, but we put it front and center just to give it even more visibility. The first item of the five part homepage necessary items framework.

The second, the navigation menu. Going back to that same eye tracking study reference, users spent an average of 6.44 seconds viewing the navigation menu on webpages. When it comes to your navigation menu, you want to make sure that it is easy to navigate. Again, it’s called the navigation menu. I found that navigation menus are one of the trickiest elements of webpages because at the end of the day they need to almost exhaustively include every single thing that a user could find on your website. We talked about why sliders are just … They frankly do not work. The reason for that is that you think that giving a user multiple different options and showing them a bunch of different slides is better than one but the data would suggest that one is vastly superior.

But when it comes to your navigation menu, you need to give your users the ability to navigate to any part of the site. With that being said, what happens a lot of the time is that churches will create these giant navigation menus that actually cause more confusion than simplicity. The sweet spot that I found is seven top line navigation menus, items or less. If you start going above seven, it just complicates things, seven or less.

With Nucleus, what we’ve done is we have seven top line navigation items that you can fill up. If you need more than seven, they overflow into this more bucket that allows for even more than seven top line navigation items but it just doesn’t show them in the top level. Then within each of those top levels, we allow, I think, anywhere between 20 and 40 sub navigation menu. If you have, let’s say, one of your navigation menu items was dedicated to small groups and your church had 38 small groups, you could put all 38,

Alex Mills: Put them all there.

Brady Shearer: … Into the sub nav. I think we added it up. Our developers are mad scientists and they made it possible to include 656 navigation menu items in total between the 16 top level items, seven of which are visible. The remaining nine get put into the overflow and then the 20 to 40 sub navs in each.

Alex Mills: I’m sure I speak for all our listeners when I say my church is going to need all 600 of those.

Brady Shearer: We had a design meeting and their dev is like, “No church will use this many.” I was like, “Yeah, totally.”

Third thing that your homepage absolutely needs at the top is a main headline. On average, five times more people will read the headline of a website than read the body copy. Your main headline has this one opportunity. Four out of every five people basically saying, “What is this website about and why do I as a visitor care about it?” You want to craft your headline exceptionally carefully. One thing to consider is that great copywriting always focuses on the customer and not the company. If you translate to the church world, great copywriting always focuses on the congregation member, not the church. You don’t want to talk about yourself and why you’re so awesome but instead talk about what problems you are going to solve for the visitor hitting on your website. On the Nucleus blog, we’ve actually complied 19 amazing church website headlines. If you’re looking for inspiration or examples, head to blog.nucleus.church and find that article with the 19 best brilliant headlines.

Alex Mills: Copy them and paste them.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely.

Alex Mills: It’s that simple.

Brady Shearer: Fourth item on your homepage above the fold you want to include is a call to action. What do you actually want people to do when they land on your website? This is what the call to action is for. This is why sliders and carousels are so inferior because they have, on average, a less than 1% click-through rate whereas the industry average everywhere is about three and a half percent for click-through rate. What is that primary call to action? Of course it’s up to you and your church what you put there.

We recommend that you put something that servers your potential new visitors. If you use Nucleus for your church’s website, we always recommend that users put their featured card, the card that’s at the top of their page, the primary call to action for visitors. We have this “I’m New” single-click template in Nucleus that we recommend churches use. That way when you land on a website as a visitor, there’s something there right for you and it’s not talking about the upcoming pancake breakfast which for you as a new visitor searching for hope, community and purpose doesn’t really mean much to you. You need something for your new visitors. “I’m New” is great for that.

Final thing that you want to put, definitely want to include at the top of your church’s homepage is inspirational imagery. This could be a photo. This could be a video. In a study of first impressions on travel and tourism websites, researchers found that inspirational related elements had the greatest impact on how first impressions were made. If you landed on the tourism website and there was a picture of a computer, you booking a trip, that was considered less formidable than if you landed on a tourism website and there’s a picture of a couple walking on a sandy beach.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: One was inspiring. One, although relevant, wasn’t nearly as inspiring. Reverse engineer that and ask yourself what would inspire the people that we want to check out our church. Maybe it’s passionate worship. Maybe it’s a kid’s ministry. Maybe it’s people laughing and community. Think about inspirational imagery you definitely want to include at the top of your homepage. To recap: number one, the logo; number two, navigation menu; number three, headline; number four, call to action; number five, inspirational imagery. If you go to the Nucleus blog, blog.nucleus.church, you can go through the 11 part homepage formula. These five are included with visual examples to accompany it, as well as six other items that won’t be in that top of homepage area, but will be on the remainder of your homepage that you also definitely want to include.

Alex Mills: I think it’s important to note that all five of these elements that we’ve just talked about are catered to and contribute to your first time visitor taking a next step, which is what your website is there for. If you think about it, whether you think branding is important or not with your church, the fact of the matter is people are going to be judging their immediate first impression based off what they see off of your brand, off of your logo. We put it front and center with an inspirational image and all of a sudden people are having a great first impression with your brand and your logo, seeing a picture of real people saying, “Hey, these people look like me. Maybe I can be a part of this community.”

Then we have a call to action … No, sorry. Then next you have a headline, a personal headline that talks about me, your first time visitor. I’m now connecting with what’s on the site and potentially with the people in this photo and then, next, I have a clear and concise call to action and a navigation menu that is exhaustive like you said but also concise. No more than seven on the top. We’re not going to fill it up with a bunch of stuff. But, also, everything you need to know about your next step. It’s all there. You’re facilitating that opportunity for people to take that next step online and then come and meet you in person and we’ve opened the door for anyone who lands on our website.

Brady Shearer: It’s a homepage formula that you can follow. If you’re looking for other page templates, you can go to prochurchtools.com/nucleus.

Alex Mills: Yup. We got them.

Brady Shearer: Download seven additional page templates for your church’s website, plan a visit, kid’s ministry, “I’m New” and the like. Again, prochurchtools.com/nucleus to download those. Thanks for watching today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We will see you tomorrow.

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