One communications obstacle that can be particularly tricky for church communicators is pinpointing the perfect website navigation menu for your congregation. This can be so difficult in part because, for most of us, we’re trying to please two different audiences: our members and our seekers. So we have to give our members the info they want and need, while providing a presence of welcome and invitation to any newcomers.
Most of us have heard that for most people, their first encounter with a church community is through its website. And that’s what makes identifying an effective navigation menu so important.
Here are a few tips and resources for navigating the ins-and-outs of your own website navigation menu.
Keep Things Short and Simple
A primary navigation system that is 20-items long is intimidating and difficult to sort through. Shoot for 5-7 primary navigation items. Remember that every single committee, group or sub-group does not need to have a presence on the homepage. But a well organized navigation menu will ensure that those groups are still easily “find-able.” Make sure the language you use in your navigation menu is accurate and descriptive – and avoid “insider” language at all costs.
Research and Borrow
Scour the web for examples of churches with navigation menus that you find helpful – and feel free to borrow inspiration from them!
Test Run Like Crazy
Ask your friends and family members who are not members of your congregation to test out your navigation system. Give them several tasks that you want to be easily accessible on your site – say, find the rector’s contact information, register for an upcoming event, learn about church weddings and download the altar guild schedule. Then, watch while they try to accomplish those assigned tasks, and see how easy-to-use your navigation really is.
Rely on the Statistics
The web is full of free analytics tools that allow a web administrator to track a huge number of details: how many folks are visiting your site, what types of mobile devices they’re using, how long they stay on a particular page, what links they click, and much more. Stay tuned for a diocesan webinar next year with a very basic intro to web analytics, but in the meantime, check out Getting Started with Google Analytics if you’re ready to take that next step. This is a free tool that produces really robust reports of your website, and you can use those reports to improve your navigation.
Resources and Reading
These posts and articles are a great place to start for some practical ideas on how to create powerful navigation systems.
- “How to Nail Down the Perfect Website Navigation,” Hubspot.com
- “20 Examples of Church Website Navigation,” CommunicateJesus.com
- “Design of Church Websites; Navigation Rules,” Endis.com
–Emily Cherry, Communications Director