Is Your Website Really Working?

“If you’re not found in a Google search for churches in your area, you don’t exist to people moving into town.” That quote, by church planter and editor Brandon Cox may be a painful truth to you, but it is a truth nevertheless.

The importance of a well thought out and designed website cannot be overstated. Today’s rapidly changing patterns of communication are founded within the digital world, and are only increasing in importance. Last year, the number of networked devices in the world DOUBLED the global population.

It is vitally important that you understand the way your viewers are viewing and using your website – not just your members and regular attenders.

Solution #1: Understand how users really use the Web

THE QUICK SUMMARYDon’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Since Don’t Make Me Think was first published in 2000, hundreds of thousands of Web designers and developers have relied on usability guru Steve Krug’s guide to help them understand the principles of intuitive navigation and information design. Witty, commonsensical, and eminently practical, it’s one of the best-loved and most recommended books on the subject.

Now Steve returns with fresh perspective to reexamine the principles that made Don’t Make Me Think a classic–with updated examples and a new chapter on mobile usability. And it’s still short, profusely illustrated…and best of all–fun to read.

If you’ve read it before, you’ll rediscover what made Don’t Make Me Think so essential to Web designers and developers around the world. If you’ve never read it, you’ll see why so many people have said it should be required reading for anyone working on websites. 


According to statistics released by Intel, here is a sampling of what happens in one minute of Internet use:

  • 31,773 hours of music is played on Pandora
  • 38,194 photos are uploaded on Instagram
  • 138,889 hours of video are watched on YouTube
  • 347,222 Tweets occur on Twitter
  • 1 million searches occur on Google
  • 9 million messages are sent on Facebook

Along with other sources, that’s an estimated 1,572,877 GB of global intellectual property data transferred every minute of every day.

Now, how’s your church going to compete with that?

When it comes to websites, we’re thinking “great literature” while the user’s reality is much closer to “billboard going by at 60 miles an hour.”

What readers actually do most of the time (if we’re lucky) is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. There are almost always large parts of the page that they don’t even look at.

It makes sense that we picture a more rational, attentive user when we’re designing pages. It’s only natural to assume that everyone used the Web the same way we do, and – like everyone else – we tend to think that our own behavior is much more orderly and sensible than it really is.

If you want to design effective Web pages, you have to learn to live with three facts about real-world Web use:

  • We don’t read pages. We scan them. One of the very few well-documented facts about Web use is that people tend to spend very little time reading most Web pages. Instead, we scan (or skim) them, looking for words or phrases that catch our eye.
  • We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice. Most of the time readers don’t scan all available options and choose the best one. Instead, they choose the first reasonable option, a strategy known as satisficing (a cross between satisfying and sufficing).
  • We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through. Very few people take the time to read instructions. Instead, we forge ahead and muddle through, making up our own vaguely plausible stories about what we’re doing and why it works.

Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think


At your next leadership team meeting, ask your team the following three questions about your church website in one minute’s time:

  1. Are we optimized for mobile devices? Hone for the Phone

Roughly nine-in-ten American adults own a mobile phone of some kind, with mobile use continuing to rise while laptop use declines. Many people are using their phones for maps and directions. Mobile browser optimization is not a passing fad. If a guest has to go through a series of pinches, scrolls, minuscule menu drop-downs and the inevitable fat-finger related back arrow taps to get to any viewable information on their phone, they most likely already wonder about your ability to connect with them.

  1. Who is our audience? Gear for Guests. 

Somewhere around 90% of church guests visit your website before they ever set foot on your campus. And most are really just trying to figure out what time they need to wake up to get the kids ready and leave the house on time. Inversely, countless hours are spent designing and writing pages of content that the average church member does not even view, beyond last week’s sermon audio or video. It’s not a stretch to apply Pareto’s oft-used principle to the church website as well: 80% of the information on most church websites is geared for 20% of the users.

  1. Is it up to date? Check for Freshness. 

If overwhelming the guest is not enough reason to simplify your web presence, remembering that the more announcements, events, and programmatic presence your website contains, the more constant maintenance it will take to keep it current and relevant. Most likely, the only people looking at those kids ministry announcements from last month are the ones deciding if they will bring their kids there for the first time this weekend. Keep your website fresh with automated social media feeds, impacting stories of life change via video and staff-wide content ownership.

How will you make sure your church is using the next minute to communicate the greatest message of all?


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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