The top 3 website flaws

By Kelly Meeneghan

webiste_flawsAs a decision-maker in your church, having full control over the website is critical. Website visitors place a large reliance on a positive online experience. More than anything, they want optimal reliability, functionality and attractiveness.

To this end, our company recently conducted research among more than 1,300 U.S. consumers to gauge their experiences and attitudes when encountering websites with flaws. The results show that 68 percent feel critical towards a slow or unreliable website. Worse, those feelings are transferred onto the organizations those websites represent.
Specifically, our research identified the three most common website errors: slow-running websites (65 percent); web addresses that lead nowhere (34 percent); and online orders not processed (32 percent).

Flaw No. 1: Slow-running websites — With little patience for waiting, many web visitors abandon a site within seconds if the homepage doesn’t load promptly — an inconvenience experienced regularly by most Americans. To prevent this from happening, evaluate the demand placed on the site’s homepage.

Though eye-catching and interesting, excessive Flash animation doesn’t lend itself to optimal homepage functionality. If the animation is unnecessary for the homepage, eliminate it entirely. Otherwise, limiting Flash to only one file significantly boosts the homepage’s loading time.

If you wish to display videos of significant messages or community events, consider starting a YouTube page for the church. Here, you can post as many videos as you’d like, as well as provide links to them from your website. By directing visitors to this popular video platform, you can offer personal and valuable content while maintaining optimal website performance.

Flaw No. 2: Web addresses that lead nowhere — Linking to external resources throughout your church website can improve the quality of information offered to visitors. It also gains credibility with search engines.

However, since you don’t control over the external sites to which you link, they can be taken down — unannounced — and direct visitors to empty or irrelevant pages. Defeating the purpose of providing quality external information, this flaw is experienced by more than one-third of Americans. So, ensure relevance and functionality by regularly checking the external links on your church’s site.

Flaw No. 3: Online orders not processed — Churches that accept donations via websites know that  e-commerce functionality is a great way to let congregants contribute financially and become more involved in the church’s mission. Embracing this functionality, however, comes with understanding the risks related to accepting monetary donations online.

Our research found that 23 percent of participants experienced an error during an online order process, resulting in a failed action. Working with reputable and reliable companies (PayPal, for instance) can help eliminate this risk.

Get it right the first time

Whether an exchange happens in person, on the phone, or online, most people make a judgment within the first few seconds. Nearly impossible to reverse or redo, the first impression is often the determining factor in whether or not a relationship will continue.

By avoiding these three most common website flaws, your church will create a great first impression for members and visitors alike — potentially leading to growth.

Kelly Meeneghan is a manager at 1&1 Internet, Inc. [] with U.S. headquarters in Chesterbrook, PA.


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