By Anthony Coppedge
It’s hard to go anywhere (including church) where people are not pulling out their phones for more than calls. We’re clearly a mobile culture with habits now firmly entrenched in anytime, anywhere access. Churches must, at a minimum, make a mobile version of their websites for these small screens.
But where to start? Pastors don’t necessarily need to keep up with the technology, but they do need to empower their staff or volunteer web team to ensure their church websites are mobile friendly.
Here are six quick checks to determine if your site is mobile friendly:
1. Does the website load quickly? Mobile phones are not always on Wi-Fi, so less than three seconds load time is the goal.
2. Is the text big enough to read without zooming?
3. Is navigation simple and obvious? Less is more with only a few, obvious choices for most mobile websites.
4. Are links thumb-friendly? Text links must be easy to click.
5. Do images fit on the screen? Text-only or very limited picture usage is usually best (and loads faster, too).
6. Is there a one-click method for a phone number, email, and map or directions?
Answering these questions is a quick and easy way to determine if your church website needs a mobile-friendly overhaul. In fact, you may discover that thinking through your mobile website is a great launching point for rethinking your existing desktop website, too.
Optimizing for mobile
If your church needs a new mobile website, below are a few helpful guidelines to ensure it’s optimized for mobile users:
Ensure fast loading.
- Focus on the information that someone on a mobile device will likely need to know.
- Use Google analytics to see what mobile users are doing on your regular website now as consideration for what should go on your mobile site.
- Consider using responsive design (code-speak here) for a flexible layout, depending on the size and resolution of the device.
- Limit images and pictures. Text-only is perfectly OK.
- Orient the site vertically for most uses (except possibly integrated maps and directions).
- Use a simplified hierarchy in menus. No roll-over menus!
- Use obvious Back and Home buttons.
- If possible, limit navigation to top-level information only.
- Add small icons with clickable links for your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
- Rewrite content to use short sentences and paragraphs. Limit scrolling of text.
- Keep links spread apart to reduce accidental clicks.
- If you use fields to capture information, only request essential information to cut back on typing (and errors).
Mobile is not future for our culture; mobile is now. Churches can respond to this reality with simplified, optimized mobile websites to meet people where they are.
For the latest stats on mobile usage and why a mobile-friendly website matters to your church, read Anthony’s constantly updated post: Making Your Church Website Mobile Friendly.
Anthony Coppedge (@anthonycoppedge) is a passionate leader in church communications and technology circles. He is an author and consultant working with churches for greater effectiveness through strategic communications and relational metrics.