On average website visitors will spend between 7 seconds to 15 seconds before deciding to dig deeper or leave your page. For individuals seeking a church these times may fluctuate slightly; yet, capturing the attention of someone exploring your church online is critically important. “Reducing your website’s friction can lead to more quality interactions without complications.” says Paul Andrew in his article How to Reduce Friction in Web Design. Paul defines friction as “...anything that prevents your users from accomplishing their goals.” As a church leader you want visitors to engage in the story and message of your church. This is accomplished by designing elements that create interest and providing intuitive ways for visitors to explore your website. According to the State of the Online Church an ebook created in 2018 by Vanderbloemen and Jay Kranda states that “59% of the churches (of the 176 surveyed) have seen physical growth since launching their online ministry”. Therefore, future-minded church leaders must be willing to consistently examine their own website and consider ways to reduce friction and make a great first impression, that transition online visitors into in-person attendance. For the purposes of this article we will identify five common areas that cause the most friction.
Moving Beyond Sign-Up Sheets
Many churches today have an information desk on Sundays where members sign up for one ministry event or another. Each sign-up sheet has a church staff member helping people put down their contacts. They then capture the information into the church database for ease of reference. This is a duplication of the sign-up process. It is possible for your church to move beyond sign-up sheets to technology for registration.
Technology has made it easy for churches to register their members for various ministry activities and easily access the information on their online database. They can also capture donations and print reports.
How can your church move beyond sign-up sheets?
1. Use web forms
Web forms are online forms embedded on your website to capture the contacts of your members or visitors. The system populates the information onto a list which you can view online or print out. Using a web form is easy because you will place it on your website and direct your members or visitors there. You don’t need sheets on your information desk on Sundays. This frees your staff to engage in more crucial areas of service within your ministries. You can ask your website host or IT personnel to design web forms for you. If you are using the Website Management Services of MinistryCraft.com, our staff will create the website forms for you. If you prefer to do the forms yourself, you don’t have to be tech savvy to do this as there are many step-by-step guides online. You can also use Google forms which are free. Google forms does have some limitations, such as you should never ask someone for a password, but otherwise, for simple forms, it works great and it is free. Once the form is created, you just provide the link generated for each form on your website or Social Media profile.
2. Managing responses from web forms
Once you capture information on a web form, it goes to a central list. When creating a web form, you will give an email address where all information and notifications go. Assign an email address for this purpose and a person who will review the information and contact those who sign up. If you have different forms for various ministry events, you can provide the emails of the ministry leaders for ease of access of the information.
3. Text messaging
Another way to sign up members for your activities is to use the text messaging or SMS platform. You can get a short code to help you speed up registration. A short code is a 5 or 6 digit phone number that members can easily memorize and send their contact information. You can put up this number on your screens during your services and members can quickly sign up. Since people always have their phones, they can easily register even where there is no internet connection.
4. Types of services eligible for online sign up
You can offer a wide range of services for online sign up. This makes your ministries more effective in running their daily activities. The beauty of online sign up forms is that you can customize them to suit the information you want to collect. You can use online registration for the following services: volunteers, small groups, retreats, conferences, mailing lists, invites, prayer requests, surveys, donations, pledges, etc.
5. Event signups on your website
Churches are having more events meant to aid the spiritual growth of their members. Some events are strictly for church members and others are open to outsiders. Online registration for events is important if you want to create awareness and have full attendance. You can advertise your events on your website, collect contact information and payments. On the day of the event, you can print out the report generated online and participants can sign against their name. This will eliminate queues created by a slow sign-up process at the registration desk.
6. Integrating Church Management Software (ChMS)
Church Management Software helps churches, ministries and non-profits capture member information, donations or pledges and issue reports that make administration simple. When you use a web form to capture information, you can integrate the form to your ChMS so that the information goes directly into the church database. Most services allow you to integrate your internal system using the Application Programming Interface (API). It allows two systems to integrate for ease of transfer of information. The transfer of the information from your web forms to your database is seamless.
Signing up for church events doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Enjoy the convenience of technology in place of sign-up sheets and see an increase in event attendance or engagement from your church members. Moving beyond sign-up sheets is possible with a bit of research and planning.