Creating your website structure

Having an easy to understand website structure is incredibly important. For people visiting your site for the first time, you want them to be able to find everything quickly. If it’s too confusing or content isn’t in logical places, they’ll probably just give up and leave. It’s like going to the supermarket for some oranges and not being able to find them because they’ve been put with the shampoo and conditioner.

There’s no one answer as to how you should structure your website content. It will depend on many things, such as where you are in the country, whether you have a high student or family population, what activities or programmes you run, how your church building is used during the week etc. Below are a few tips on how to get your site ordered logically and make everything easier to find. Remember, just because you know where the content sits, doesn’t mean it’s in a sensible or helpful place.

Plan it on post-its
If you’re starting from scratch or re-hauling the current structure, it’ll be so much easier to visualise how it will look and make changes by writing the name of each page on a post-it.  You can easily arrange them in any order you want and make changes quickly without having to start all over from the beginning.

If you’re planning on restructuring your current website, why not start by printing out all the pages and lay them out on the floor to match your web structure. Again, seeing the amount of pages and how they are ordered visually will help work things out.

Keep it simple
The less links and options on your site the better as it’ll keep people’s focus on the important things. The best church websites I’ve seen are incredibly simple and well thought out. You don’t want to confuse or distract people with useless information or more information than they actually need.. You might think you need to include every single piece of information about your church online but you need to leave a little something for people to discover when they visit you!

Ensure you only have one main menu (either across the top or down the left hand side) with further options underneath the main menu headings. It’s possible to fit all the content into ten headings or less (See my example below as proof) Keeping page numbers to a minimum will also mean people are never too many clicks away from the page they need.

Be Ruthless
Are you absolutely sure you need five pages on the history and architecture of the building? Think about how many people might be coming to your site for this information, and if it’s only a small amount, think about creating PDF information sheets which those people with particular interests can download. You can also combine pages that deal with similar topics whenever possible.

Work out your Priorities
What are the most important things people coming to your website for the first time need to know? Put yourself into the shoes of a new person to help figure out what information they will want first. Information for your congregation should be much further down the list of priorities (or kept off the site completely by sending out a regular email with the information included.)

Important topics to cover for new people:

  • Who are you and why should I come to your church?
  • What time are your services?
  • How can I be baptised/married in your church
  • How can I contact you?
  • What events or social activities are you running?

Give them easy to understand names
Whilst occasional offices might mean something to you, it’s not going to mean anything to a potential newcomer. Make sure each page has a simple, easy to understand name. At the same time, don’t make the page titles too vague!

Suggested Structure
Below is just one way you could structure your content. Use it as is, or just as inspiration:

1. Our Services

  • Timings and what people can expect from them (Style of worship)
  • Service FAQs (parking, disabled access, toilets etc)
  • Children and Youth (what activities are on offer for those under 18)
  • Sermons (Embedded audio or video of sermons)

2. About Us

  • Team/Who’s Who (Clergy, Churchwardens, administrators etc)
  • Vision (goals, beliefs etc)
  • Community and church links (scouts and guides, local school and community links)
  • Outreach and Mission (Charities you support and mission activities you are involved in)
  • Church and Hall (basic church history and hall booking information)
  • Magazine (parish magazine information)

3. Life Events

  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Weddings
  • Funerals

4. News

5. Events

6. Church Life

  •     Regular activities and social groups such as Mother’s Union and coffee mornings

7. Contact Us

  •     Includes phone, email and map

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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