Seriously, your church needs a website that works on mobile devices. Notice I didn’t say that your church needs a mobile website. That was the thing a couple of years ago and that thing has passed. You now need one website that works on computers, tablets and smartphones. We will talk more about that in a moment.
There are two reasons that this is important right now. First of all, more and more people are accessing the web from mobile devices. Honestly, it won’t be long before the majority of website visits are via mobile devices. I just checked RioTexas.org and the analytics shows that 24.29% of all traffic is mobile.
But there is now another reason. Google has announced that they will include “mobile-friendliness” as a component in how their algorithm that calculates search results. In English, if you want your church website to show up at the top of search results, it really should be “mobile-friendly.” If you want to read more about this, check out an excellent post on the topic over at ChurchMag: Will Google Penalize Your Church Website?
Maybe you are not sure if your website is “mobile-friendly.” Not a problem, you can check. Google Webmaster Tools has a tool that will check it out for you. Just go to: www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ If all goes well, you should see this:
What if your site fails? The response page will look much different, like this review of the old umcswtx.org:
If your site fails the test, I highly recommend you do something about it. But what? First of all, we need to understand the difference between mobile sites and responsive sites. I found a great comparison chart over at smartz.com. It goes into more detail but the basic idea is this: Mobile sites are a copy of your website optimized for mobile devices. Some platforms will do the work of taking everything you create on your main website and reworking it to fit on a smaller screen. The site is designed to determine what device is being used to access the content and sends the correct version. Responsive sites are much simpler. There is one site, no copies. The site is coded to be flexible and the device itself displays the content in an optimal way for the screen.
Responsive sites are much more flexible with the ever growing range of device types and screen sizes and shapes. Whether someone is visiting on an iPad in portrait mode or and Android phone in landscape, the site is going to look and work great. Also, and this is important, responsive sites are better for SEO (search engine optimization.) Google is now looking to see if your site is “mobile-friendly.” Those computers are not looking to see if you have a separate mobile site. If you want to show up when people are looking for you, one responsive site is the best option.
So with that in mind, what do you do? There are a few solutions. However, the easiest is to switch to a platform and template that offers responsive sites. I am a big fan of Squarespace. They host RioTexas.org and also TheU.org (which I helped design). All of their sites are responsive. You don’t need to do anything to make the site work well on mobile. Just build your regular site and it will look great everywhere. (That is unless you mess with the code and css like I do, then you need to be careful.)
Weebly also offers responsive design. You just need to make sure you are using one of their newer templates (those released since 2014.)
There are other providers out there that offer responsive sites. I will begin including this feature when I review website providers on www.riotexas.org/web-providers.
Rio Texas churches, want a review of your current website or need help getting started with a new one, visit riotexas.org/websites and request a website review or ask for help getting started.