Your website is probably not something you think about very often. Maybe you update upcoming events and your weekly sermon, but other than that, you likely don’t spend much time on your website. Unfortunately, there are issues I encounter on a lot of church websites that will turn potential visitors off – and they are generally preventable with a little bit of maintenance. Here are a few tests I highly recommend you run your website through to make sure your site is safe, secure, mobile-friendly, and loads quickly.
1. GT Metrix – (links to https://gtmetrix.com/)
GT Metrix tests how quickly your page loads. It will give your website a grade (just like in school, you want a B or higher). This test provides a lot of useful information for professional/commercial businesses, but it will reveal some important things about your ministry website.
What to Look for:
There are three things to pay attention to. The first is the letter grade. If you have an A or B, the structure of your site is good. A grade of C or lower means that there are improvements you can make to the structure of your site to help it load faster. More important than the letter grade are two numbers. The first is the Largest Contentful Paint (circled in purple in the image above). This is how long it takes for the majority of your website to load. You want this to be under 2 seconds at the maximum, and if it can be under 1 second, that is even better. The second is the Fully-Loaded Time (it has a red arrow next to it on the image above). This shows how long it takes for your website to finish loading completely. You want this number to be under 2.5 seconds.
2. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test – (links to https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly/)
Most new visitors to your website will visit through a mobile device. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see if your site has any issues. If your site passes, you will have a green check mark (see the image below). If your site has issues, it will list what is wrong. You’ll want to fix anything that shows up here because these are issues that make it difficult to use your website on a mobile device. The most common issues are font sizes being to small, clickable objects being too close together, and content that is wider than the screen.
3. Sucuri Malware Checker – (links to https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/)
The last thing you want is for your website to have malware on it (malware is like a computer virus). This happens if your website has been hacked, and many people will not be able to access your site if it has malware. Browsers will block access and give a warning message saying that your website is dangerous, not the first impression you want to make with a potential visitor.
There is a lot of information on this test, but the top is all you really need to look at (where the two red arrows are in the final image below). If it says, “No Malware Found” and “Site is not Blacklisted,” you are in the clear. If either of those indicates issues, that is something that you will want to take very seriously, and you will need to hire a professional to help you remove any malware and get your site removed from any blacklists.
These three basic tests will identify the main issues you might run into with your website. If you would like a more detailed website audit, I offer it to churches at no charge. I’ll run your website through these tests and a few others and take a look at your homepage from the perspective of a prospective visitor. Then I shoot a 5-10 minute screen capture video with my findings. If this sounds helpful, you can fill out a form at https://twocans.com/church-website-audit to get started.
Bonus Material: Tech Policies are Cyber Security, Too: Do You Have Any?