By Jen Lieberman
[Written with synagogues in mind, but applicable for all.]
What makes people press the back button shortly after landing on your website? Why do they leave so quickly? And, what, if anything, can you do to better engage your website visitors?
No one deliberately tries to create an awful user experience, but many synagogue websites fail to convey the vitality and warmth of the congregations they represent. In fact, some synagogue websites are down right cringe worthy.
There will always be people who land on your website by mistake or those who pop by quickly to grab a piece of key information, but if your Google Analytic data is showing an abundance of 10 second and under visits, something may be fundamentally wrong.
If your website contains any of these 7 qualities, it’s time to reconsider how you are representing your synagogue online. A redesign or, at the very least, a website refresh may be in your future.
1. Videos that Automatically Start Playing
Is there anything more annoying than a video that auto-plays the second you land on a website? This may have been popular a dozen or so years ago, but it is quite out of vogue by today’s standards. Don’t get me wrong. Videos on your website are a powerful way to engage your visitors, but allow them to decide whether or not they want to watch it.
2. Tiny Font
If I need to squint to see the font on your website, why would I bother to stay and read what you have to say? At best, a small font makes for a frustrating user experience and, at worst, it may prevent some of your members from reading your content. Luckily, of all the items on this list, increasing the font to 14-16px is the easiest to do.
3. Blurry Images
Images that are blurry, out of focus, or distorted are a major turn off. Sourcing quality images is hard, but it’s a must. You cannot have a great website without great images. It’s that simple. Reach out to your members. See if a professional or even amateur photographer in your congregation is willing to take some pics for you. You can also purchase stock images through Adobe or another online provider. Only a few quality images are needed to make the right impression.
4. Disorganized Menu Navigation
Think of your menu navigation as the backbone of your website. A well organized menu makes it easy for visitors to find the information they seek. It also helps them to discover new items. The opposite is true too. A confusing menu unnecessarily complicates the user experience. Keep your main menu items broad, yet descriptive. Topics like “Worship” or “Learn” will allow you to nest related items in a way that will make sense to your readers.
5. Content Overload
Ever go to a website that has so much content that you end up reading nothing? You just quickly scroll and then leave? In the online world, less is more. Be selective and deliberate in the content you feature on your homepage. See the paradox of choice to learn more about why having too much information keeps your visitors from focusing in on what you actually want them to read.
6. Out of Date Information
Still advertising the Shavuot ice cream social on your homepage? That’s got to go. Same with homepage content celebrating events from 2015 or 2016. It’s fine to keep those pages published, but they shouldn’t be prominently displayed on the homepage or attached to a menu. Establish your site as a reliable source of information by ensuring that all content is accurate and up-to-date.
7. Ancient Design
If you can’t stand the look of your website, why should your members feel any different? Best practices encourage organizations to revamp their online presence every few years. For financial and practical reasons, this advice may not be realistic for synagogues, but if your site’s design is 5+ years, it’s time to seriously consider a redesign.
A new and beautiful site is lovely, but there is another reason why having a modern site is key. As ever increasing number of visitors are using a mobile and not a desktop computer, it’s up to you to ensure a positive experience for them. If your website was built or designed during the time of the flip phone, it is most likely unable to meet the needs of mobile readers.
The first impression your website makes ought to be a strong one. Your synagogue is dynamic. You deserve a website that reflects the spirit of your community.
Unsure if you are need of a new site, or just need to reorganize your content? Be in touch. I’m happy to work with you during a free consultation. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love hearing your thoughts, questions, and working with you to make your synagogue website thrive.
Jen Lieberman is the client relationship manager at Jvillage Network.
Cross-posted on Jvillage Network’s blog.