WordPress is known for its ease-of-use and flexibility. However, there are several common mistakes that many churches make with their WordPress websites that cost them in the long run. These are some of the common mistakes that churches make with their WordPress website and how you can avoid making them.
#1-Lacking A Clear Purpose
Why does your church have a website? A big WordPress mistake is made when church leaders don’t have a clear answer to that question. Knowing the why behind your website is just as important as the design of the website itself. Are you seeking to reach new potential members? Do you need a simple way to help your current members stay connected? Get a clear idea of what you want your church’s website to accomplish so you can avoid wasting time and resources on your WordPress website.
#2-Ignoring WordPress Updates
As WP Beginner points out, ignoring WordPress updates (including updates for themes and plugins) can lead to security issues and bugs. Attending to updates is a simple process that rarely takes more than a few minutes. The best way to stay on top of your website is to get in the habit of checking for updates at least once a week. WordPress makes this easy for you by alerting you when you need to make an update with a notification on your dashboard menu. (Five More Talents’ managed WordPress hosting service takes care of these updates for you.)
#3-Disregarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization sounds like a business term, and it is. The goal of SEO is to get more visitors to your website by ranking higher in search engines like Google. Websites are powerful outreach tools. Churches that disregard this are missing out on a great opportunity to spread their message with the community. The good news is that SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. Building a habit of regularly adding relevant content to your church’s website is a simple first step to practice good SEO.
#4-Forgetting Your Members’ Needs
A church website is an essential tool for reaching out to new visitors, but it also needs to serve the needs of the church members. A big mistake that some churches make with their WordPress website is forgetting this important reality. Elements that serve church members include an events calendar, a sermon library, and pages designed to connect members with service and fellowship opportunities. Adding these resources to your church website can greatly increase the value for current members. WordPress makes it easy to add new content.
Columbia Presbyterian Church, a Five More Talents customer, is a great example of a church that has added value for their members with their website. Their site is full of resources for visitors and members alike and invites web visitors to use their website whether they are planning a first-time visit or have been attending for years.
#5-Not Taking Security Seriously
The biggest security mistake that WordPress users make is not taking security seriously enough. This can be a real temptation for many churches using WordPress. They figure they are small churches and because they are non-profit, hackers have nothing to gain from tampering with their website. Sadly, this is just not true. For example, in 2015, after the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, churches across the United States suffered website vandalism from ISIS-sympathizing hackers. Five More Talents was faced with a few cases of site vandalism. We strengthened our security measures, but the wake-up call was real. WordPress security is very important and those who neglect it do so at their own risk. A simple first step towards better website security is managing admins, users, and passwords effectively. Creating strong passwords sounds too simple, but it goes a long way.
#6-Never Updating Your Content After the Website Launch
If there is one perfectly good way to waste your time, resources and opportunities with your church website it’s this: never update your content after your site is launched. Imagine a magazine that published the same content every issue. Would you bother reading it? Of course not! This is one of the most common WordPress mistakes that churches are prone to make. Churches using their website for outreach need to build habits of updating their content to keep their website dynamic and capture the attention of web visitors.
First ARP of Burlington, NC, has excelled at this. Their website includes a page titled “From the Pastor” which is updated every week. It invites web visitors to join the congregation at their Sunday morning service and tells them what to expect. Keeping this page updated requires work and discipline, but it pays off in the long run.
These WordPress Mistakes Aren’t Inevitable
Running a great church website on WordPress requires hard work and dedication. It requires discipline and creativity. But it doesn’t have to be hard. With a few simple steps you can avoid many of the pitfalls that church leaders commonly make with their WordPress websites.