*Latest update: June 2014
It’s hard to go anywhere (including church) where people are not pulling out their phones for more than calls. We’re clearly a mobile culture with habits now firmly entrenched in anytime, anywhere access. Churches must, at a minimum, make a mobile version of their websites for these small screens.
For those pastors wanting some stats to back this up, it’s helpful to note the following:
94% of smartphone users have searched for local info – including your church. *
67% (and climbing) of mobile users are now smartphone users (159.8 million people in the U.S. own smartphones as of October 2013). *
66% of smartphone users visited an organization in person after viewing a website. *
90% of smartphone users acted within 24 hours of viewing the website. *
73% of mobile searches trigger additional actions, such as continued research (36%) and in-person visits (25%) *
57% of mobile users won’t recommend an organization based on a poorly designed mobile site. *
37% of all digital media time is spent on mobile *
But where to start? Pastor’s don’t need to bother trying to keep up with the technology, but they do need to empower their staff/volunteer web team to ensure their church websites are mobile friendly.
6 quick checks any pastor can do:
1) Does the website load fast? Mobile phones are not always on Wi-Fi, so under 3 seconds load time is the goal.
2) Is the text big enough to read without zooming? The only acceptable answer is “yes”.
3) Is navigation simple and obvious? Less is more with only a few, obvious choices for most mobile websites.
4) Are links thumb-friendly? Text links must be easy to click.
5) Do images fit on the screen? Chances are text-only or very limited picture usage is best (and loads faster, too).
6) Is there a one-click method for a phone number, email and map (directions)? The only acceptable answer is “yes”.
Answering these questions is a quick and easy way to determine if your church website needs a mobile-friendly overhaul. In fact, quite often you’ll find that the exercise of thinking through your mobile website is a great launching point for rethinking your existing desktop website, too. Less really is more!
BONUS: To see how your church website looks on multiple devices, use this free handy tool to test your site.
Optimizing for Mobile
If your church needs a new mobile website, below are a few helpful guidelines to ensure it’s optimized for mobile users.
1) Ensure Fast Loading
• Focus on the information that someone on a mobile device will likely need to know.
• Use Google Analytics (talk to your web team/hosting provider) to see what mobile users are doing on your regular website now as consideration for what should go on your mobile site.
• Consider using responsive design (code-speak here) for flexible layout depending on the size/resolution of the device.
• Limit images and pictures. Limited use of images is actually an acceptable option for mobile.
2) Simplify Navigation
• Orient the site vertically for most uses (except possibly integrated maps/directions).
• Use a simplified hierarchy in menus. No roll-over menus!
• Add obvious Back and Home buttons.
• If possible, limit navigation to top-level information only; this is not the place to learn about every opportunity with the church.
• Add small icons with clickable links for your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
3) Be Thumb-Friendly
• Re-write content to use short sentences and paragraphs. Limit scrolling of text so that as much fits on the screen per section as possible.
• Keep links spread apart to reduce accidental clicks (a.k.a. fat fingers!).
• If you use fields to capture information, require only essential information to limit typing (and errors). When in doubt, First Name, Last Name, and Email are usually enough.
Churches can easily respond to this reality with simplified, optimized mobile websites to meet people where the are at – anytime, anywhere.
For a 2-hour online review of your digital communications & my helpful recommendations for your communications staff, fill out the short form below.
Note: Special thanks for my friends at ROAR.pro for their quick-and-easy mobile “before and after” screenshot tool for making a church mobile website. They’re good people to check out.
 Sources: comScore Mobile Future in Focus 2012
 Sources: Google: Mobile Search Moments Study 2013
 Sources: comScore: Mobile Future in Focus Report 2013
 Sources: comScore: U.S. Digital Future in Focus Report 2014