We’re here at Kalamazoo, Michigan! Bringing you fresh insights on how to improve your church’s websites.
On today’s episode, Kenny sat down with DJ Chuang, Tyler Rominger, and Vincent Roman Graham tackling one of the main issues of many churches today.
What is one thing every church website should have?
The answer is when you tune in to Church Butler’s Lunch and Learn, Kalamazoo Edition.
Kenny: Hey, Kenny Jahng here with the Church Butler Lunch and Learn podcast. Once again, we are on the road, a special trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan. I’ve got three gentlemen here with expertise in church communications and I just thought it is something that we can’t waste. First, we got DJ to my right, DJ Chuang tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do.
DJ: Hi. Dj Chuang here and I’m currently working with the .Bible registry. So the Internet now has domain names that end in .Bible. What instant association for your brand and initiatives!
Tyler: My name is Tyler Rominger and I run a church website company, but beyond that, a platform. So, we’ve created a drag and drop technology called Ministry Designs that allows churches to easily implement websites at the click of a button.
Vincent: My name is Vincent Roman Graham. Also with Ministry Designs. I guess you could say I’m the Director of Operations and Oversight of Customer Service at Ministry Designs.
Kenny: We are here as your guest, gentlemen. Tell us a little bit about where we are. We’re in a very cool environment for our Lunch and Learn, today.
Vincent: Yeah. So, we’re at Hopcat in Kalamazoo. Michigan. Hopcat’s kind of a little eatery place that’s local to, I believe, Michigan area. So, I think there’s some maybe in Indiana, but the biggest reason why I took Kenny and DJ here was for the crack fries. The name crack fries comes because apparently it’s so addictive that you just always have to come back for their fries.
Kenny: We are all anticipating the crack fries at the table, but they just brought up the guacamole, the queso and the chips and we’re going to dive right in. Today, I thought we’d talk about round table here. Just things that we, as communicators, sometimes miss about building our church websites when we’re trying to reach our target audiences. As we know at Church Butler, we talk about target, attract and engage. The website is a key component to that, so I thought we’d go around and just share just one thing that you must, must, must do with your church website. One thing that you must be thinking about doing and if you’re not doing that right now, where you have to hit pause and really bring the team together and start to think about this and have some discussions internally. So we’re gonna start with you DJ. What’s the one thing you think every church website should really consider and put out there?
DJ: Well, one of the hobbies I had is visiting churches and it’s kind of a weird one, but I consider myself a church connoisseur. And so, when I go to church websites, I want to find the time, location and maybe a phone number, email, and you would not believe that most churches, it seems to me, don’t have that readily available. I have to click around. I have to search and hunt and I’m somebody that wants to go to your church.
Kenny: Right, exactly.
J: Can you imagine what it’s like for the average that is new to church?
Kenny: Or someone who’s skeptical.
DJ: Oh, goodness. Yeah. So, that’s my top advice. That is easy to do.
Kenny: It’s amazing. It is amazing how many churches don’t have their locations or directions or even just an address to punch into the GPS. We want to make it easy, easy, easy for that new visitor. Right? That’s a great one. So, Tyler, what about you?
Tyler: Yeah, so I want to kind of approach it from a different angle. So, we, all of the time, it’s common that we hear the church, the website is the new front door to your church. Well, that concept goes beyond a pretty design, right? So, when you walk into the front door of a church, most of the time you have a plan for that visitor, right? You have a new visitor area, you have a gift for them. Those exact same things should be communicated on your website. Most websites that we see have a button that say ‘New here’ and then they ask for some email information and that’s about it. What we have to start doing as church leaders is communicating that we have a plan and an experience for this visitor of your church website and beyond, beyond the website, right? So, lead them through a progression of understanding about where to park potentially or lead them through a progression of understanding about what’s going to happen with their children, but, we have to be able to articulate to them through our website that we have more than just a pretty page.
Kenny: So, that’s a great point. And, it’s very strategic. It’s something that we constantly are thinking about how do we engage our people and get them to go beyond just the site? What are you talking about? Can you give us some concrete examples? Are you talking about videos? Are you talking about articles? Are you talking about emails? Texting? What is it that you’re talking about that goes beyond the website?
Tyler: Yeah. So, one of the churches that we serve, I can’t think of the URL off the top of my head, but what they’ve actually done is they have created on their homepage an entire ‘New Here’ experience. And so, what they’ve done is they’ve evaluated all of the data, what is somebody looking for when they’re engaging in your church website? And they addressed those point by point through a logical progression, right? So, one of the things that somebody would want to know is ‘What’s going to happen with my children?’ and ‘Are my children going to be well cared for?’. This is one of the largest concerns of people in my demographic when I visit a church: “I want to know that my kids are going to be cared for”. So, they address that. And then, the logical next step would be, you know, ‘Where do I park when I get there?’. You know, so it’s a really a good experience for the user because they gain understanding in a logical way from start to finish in. And, they’re not surprised when they actually get to your front door.
DJ: If they can get there
Tyler: If they can get there.
Kenny: If they can get there, DJ, yes. So, whose responsibility does that concept fall on? Is it, for instance, in that example of the family that have Kids Ministry area? Is it the Communications Department? Is it the Welcome Committee? Is the actual Children’s Ministry? How do people determine how to wrangle that content out of the right people or put it on the website?
Tyler: Yeah. So, one of the things that we’re actually working on internally is we’ve identified the five objections for churches when they’re trying to improve their website. And so, one of the things that we talk about now is building an effective team and pulling people from specific demographics, not necessarily with a technical background, but with specific locations inside of the church that have the ability to go to that specific, you know, whether it’s the children’s ministry or the family ministry or whatever. And then, you assign one point person to gather that information and then you have that individual displayed on the site and whether it’s as effective because what we see is a lot of times you get caught in the minutia of going back and forth in conversations and emails and all in it basically slows the entire process down. If you allocate that task of one individual in that specific ministry area, you’re going to get a return significantly quicker.
Kenny: Wow. That’s pretty powerful. It’s actually a pretty logical also, if you think about a very intuitive. I’m going to put you here on the spot. Can you recall on demand those five objections that you mentioned here?
Tyler: Yeah. So, Vincent might have to help me with this. One of them is understanding, right? So, a lot of times churches don’t necessarily understand the full scope of a web project or they don’t understand how to implement one. So, that’s a roadblock. The next is the allocation of time, right? So, who’s gonna be responsible for this? How are we going to get this pushed through? Who’s going to have the conversations? The third is a financial obligation, which we actually have kind of a unique strategy to helping churches overcome them.
Kenny: Ones that you talked about right there. The financial one I think is very interesting to me. I’ve actually bumped into a couple of churches recently that I think in today’s day and age, you need to set up side of huge amounts of resources to build a website and frankly that’s not the case anymore today, right? Like, you know ministrywebsitedesigns.com is actually a great example of that. Vince, maybe you can share with people, you know, in terms of budgeting, what should an average church… Now, we’re talking to average, we’re not talking about mega churches. We’re not talking about the, you know, the ones that have TV shows and everything like that. The average church in America that has maybe 200 people, 300 people or less, what should they be thinking about budgeting for the website?
Vincent: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, churches of all sides really have specific needs that kind of vary from the small church or a large church. It depends on really what you’re looking for inside of your church website. Now at Ministry Designs, we kind of cater to that church in the medium area, right? So there’s going to be mega churches out there that are spending $10,000 and $15,000 on a website, but that’s not really the case for all these churches out there. I mean, you can actually build an amazing looking website for a fraction of that price. So, for a run-of-the-mill church, I would say, I mean, if you have a budget of $1000 to $1,500, you can get an amazing website that has everything you need that can compete with the mega churches out there. And the thing that’s beautiful nowadays, that wasn’t necessarily the case maybe 10 years ago, is that the design trends now are so simple that really what you want to do with your church website is keep it as simple as possible, right? So, you want to follow the KISS method, Keep It Super Simple. I guess you could say. And then, you really don’t need the big bucks to design these websites anymore because the trends that are out there are very simple. So, one, I would say even, one mistake that a lot of churches are making are that they’re trying to do too much with their church website and they tend to clutter the site, it really makes the user experience really cluttered and frustrating trying to go through. So, one thing that I would really encourage churches to do is take a look at their site and to see what they can take away. A lot of churches you’ll find that have content that is three, four or five months, they’ll have event banners that are two months old. You mean you need to clean that out, get it updated, and really take away some of the clutter to really simplify the site, to make it easier for those that are visiting your church website.
Kenny: Okay, we’re going to check back in with you as we round out that list of five. Tyler, take it away.
Tyler: Okay. So, here are the five major objections. Now, inside of these five major objections, there are a whole bunch of smaller objections that you’ll encounter, but, we have understanding, building a team. You need to build an effective team that has an understanding, we have learning about effective technologies and then we have finding the money and saving you time, right? So, it’s really, it’s a larger understanding about what your church does, who they are, and then, how to effectively communicate that, building the team to support a new project, understanding what technologies are available to you and what fits your needs, finding the money to create the project and then, how to save time in that process. So, those would be the five.
Kenny: Vince, we’re going to round out that the list of must do’s with your websites. What’s your super tip for everybody given the experience you’ve seen over hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of websites?
Vincent: Yeah, so I’ve actually had the personal pleasure of working with thousands of churches all over the world. And one thing that I’m going to go ahead and tell you guys, it’s the secret that people typically overlook and it only takes a sentence or two. One thing that churches are missing is showing or explaining the dress code for their church, right?
Kenny: Oh, yes.
Vincent: So, the reason why this is important is because people that are coming to your church for the first time, and that’s going to be the large number of people that are coming to your website, right? Or the people that have not yet been to your church and they want to know. So, the goal of the website really is to get them as comfortable as possible with locking the front door of your ministry. And one thing that the person for that are visiting your church for the first time. They want to feel comfortable. They want to feel a part of the church. They don’t want to stand out at all. So, the one thing that they’re looking for is what to wear to church. And if you think about it for people that are unchurched, right, there is such a tough persona, you know, the Sunday best. Your shirt and tie, your nice pants when that’s really not the case in a lot of churches anymore.
Kenny: And how embarrassing is that when you show up and like a Tuxedo and everyone’s wearing shorts or something like that.
Vincent: Yeah, you got James Bond walking through like a beach party, but I mean there’s so many churches now that you know, just come as you are, is really kind of the message and that’s something that people don’t really show or explain on their website. So, that’s really a very small barrier to entry for people to come visit church is just really what you’re wearing on Sunday. This is why it’s so important to never use stock photography on your site, take real pictures of real things happening in your church and publish them on your site. It gives a real live experience of what they’re going to see when they get there.
Kenny: Everyone here, if they’ve heard me talk in the past, the concept of Paparazzi previews. This is what we’re talking about, you know, when we think about Paparazzi, their job they think is to leave no stone unturned, nothing left to the imagination because has been said so many people have baggage when they think about churches, right? In their mind, they have all these memories of what churches used to be and they might not have had a church experienced recently. So, I think showing Paparazzi previews of how people are at worship and what you can dress code is probably the one of the most humanizing things you can do for a visitor today. Well there you have it. We’ve got some advice from the pros here, looking at hundreds and hundreds, not thousands of churches and websites, some critical elements that you guys have to put into consideration and interplay with your own website. So, that’s your question of the day is, are you actually doing these things that we’ve talked about today? I’d love to hear your feedback and comment in here from your perspective, what’s the one thing that you are doing that’s a must have that really is visitor-centric on your website? Our food has just arrived. We were looking at our beautiful crack fries and DJ you’ve got some, cheesy delicious burger going on that just looks beyond belief. If everyone had smellovision, I think people would be knocked out right now. We’re going to sign off here and enjoy our lunch together as we do that. Gentlemen, why don’t you just share your digits, your social handles? How can people who heard today’s episode get in touch with you directly?
DJ: Easiest way is to go to get.bible and click Contact.
Tyler: Ministrydesigns.com, ministrywebsitedesigns.com take you to the same page. Go there and ask for me.
Vincent: Yeah, just same thing ministrywebsitesdesign.com. There’s actually a chat feature on there. You can ask her either Tyler or myself and we’d be happy to chat with you guys.
Kenny: And I’m Kenny Jahng. You could always reach out at Church Butler. Our website is www.churchbutler.com. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s lunch and learn. Hopefully, you got something out of it. We are constantly responding to the request that you make, so let me know, what are the topics that you would love to learn about, talk about and also who you’d like to hear from as we continue our journey across the country, meeting up with church communicators with our lunch and learn. Thanks so much for joining us. Remember, be social and stay social.