These days, most churches understand that their website is their new “front porch.” And in our post-COVID world, it may be your worship center, your small group meeting area and many other parts of the church as well. But the front porch of any church, home or business sets the tone for what you will find inside. It should be welcoming and friendly and representative of who you are as a body.
That’s why the content on your website matters.
You may have the most dazzling graphics, the fastest processing speeds and the slickest features, but all of that means nothing if your content lacks substance. Many churches have great content on their sites but they hide it with ambiguous sentence structure, bad grammar and language that just doesn’t make sense. Or – even worse – their website is filled with inaccurate information – bad email addresses, disconnected phone numbers or incorrect dates or meeting rooms.
So let’s give this very technologically advanced subject a very old-school treatment. Do you remember the 3 Rs – Reading, Writing & ‘Rithmetic? Let’s take our website content back to the basics and make sure our front porch is as inviting as possible.
This is a no-brainer, right? People will obviously be reading your website. But let me ask you an important question – have you read it? Out loud? Reading aloud is an old writer’s trick that can help your brain focus in on the words in a different way than reading silently allows. The words will also stick in your memory a little better.
Listen for the rhythm of the words and sentences – are they too long and winding? Are they choppy? Have a clear idea of where you’re going – the big idea – and then choose the clearest words to get you directly there.
While you may not want to hear it, all the grammar your teachers drilled into you throughout your school career is going to come in handy right about now. There is nothing more distracting than bad grammar and typos! And readers get very impatient when it comes to these elements so don’t give them a reason to shut you down prematurely.
Your first line of defense – spell check! Don’t ignore those red squiggly lines under words – they are trying to tell you something! Whether you’re a terrible speller or your fingers go faster than your brain, misspelled words are going to happen. I’m here to tell you they don’t have to.
Then for the actual grammar, there are several options for you to use. Grammarly markets itself as your free online writing assistant – what more could you ask for? Don’t worry about remembering all those grammar rules because Grammarly is there to do it for you, whether it’s sentence structure, how not to split infinitives or where to put a prepositional phrase. The level of support increases if you want to subscribe to their service.
But here’s a secret – Microsoft Word has a lot of grammar features built into it too and you probably already own it. Under the Review menu you have access to an Editor, Thesaurus and Word Count. In some cases, it will even read aloud for you!
Before moving to the third R, let me encourage you to pay attention to the words you choose to use. Make sure they are relatable and not too “churchy.” Avoid using jargon or insider language so that anyone and everyone will feel welcomed when they read your site.
Typing this word gave me one of those red squiggly lines I warned you about, but it rounds out my three Rs so I’m going with it (a lesson in poetic license and symmetry and not in website content). Obviously there are no math problems on your church’s website (please don’t), but there are numbers – phone numbers, dates, room numbers, physical and email addresses. Check and double-check each one for accuracy. Don’t rely on memory – do the fact-checking legwork required. Bad numbers can mean missed opportunities for connection. This is also the content you need to keep up with. Periodically, confirm that dates, phone numbers, email addresses and meeting rooms are up to date and accurate.
Words matter. We know the words we say to someone are important and shouldn’t be chosen lightly. The same is true for the words on your website. Be thoughtful, take your time and make sure you are using your words to paint a picture of a loving body of believers ready and waiting on the front porch for their guests to arrive.
Not everyone is a wordsmith – sometimes it’s a gift to recognize your weaknesses. If you need some help writing great content for your site, there’s no shame in asking. The team at OneEighty Digital stands at the ready to help you put your best digital foot forward! Contact us today to find out how we can partner together to make something great!