church search marketing web design

The Best Church Websites… 5) Have a Simple Menu

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

Mistakes with the menu affect the appearance, usability and search rankings of church websites. Continuing our series on the Best Church Websites, in this post, we’re going to look at the navigation menu.

Most people visit a church website looking for specific information.

  • If they’re looking for a church in the area, they are looking for basic information about the church including service times and directions.
  • If they’re interested in getting more involved, they may be looking for more info on specific ministries like the choir or youth group.
  • Maybe they heard an announcement on Sunday about an upcoming event and they want more info on that specific event.
  • Maybe they couldn’t be a part of the worship service this past Sunday and they want to listen to the message online.

The challenge is with dozens or even hundreds of pieces of information on the church website, we have to help people find the 1 or 2 specific things they’re looking for at that moment. If a person can’t find the info they’re looking for, there’s a good chance they won’t participate in the event or ministry they were looking for information on. Or they might never visit the church at all.

This is why the menu of your church website is sooooo important.

The 3 biggest church website menu problems

1) Too many menu items. The more items in a menu, the more difficult it is for people to find and select the menu item that contains the information they’re looking for.  For example…

best church websites - too many menu items

2) Menus that break the site. Putting too many items in the main navigation menu or making the menu items longer than the site was designed for will often “break” the site design and make it look bad.  In the example below, because the menu items are too many and too long they overlap the search function and wrap to a second line which is partially outside the header area.

best church websites - menu breaks site

3) Menu text that normal people can’t understand. This includes acronyms, ministry names that no on except the church’s members know, and Christian terms that non-Christians don’t understand.

The Best Church Websites Have a Simple Menu

Simple menus have the opposite of the 3 characteristics listed above.

1) Seven or fewer menu items.  It may seem challenging to keep it to 7 but more than that and people tend to start skimming and miss things.

2) One row horizontal menu. If the menu is displayed horizontally across the top of the website, all the navigation menu items are displayed in one row rather than wrapping onto 2 or more rows.

3) Use plain language. Again, no acronyms, creative ministry names, insider language or Christianese

We understand this may be challenging.  Every ministry leader wants their ministry in the main menu.  Web administrators don’t want say “no” to ministry leaders or even the senior pastor.  However, I challenge you with this thought…

If everything is very important, then nothing is important. -Brian Mulroney

quote if everything is important

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Comment & Discuss

  • Do you think a church website’s menu is important? Why or why not?
  • What other advice would you give for developing a good menu?

See the other posts in this series…

4) Have a Clean Header  << The Best Church Websites… >> 6) Coming soon

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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