Your website is a conversation with your audience. When someone types the address to your website in their browser, or clicks on a link in their search results, it is the beginning of that conversation. So your website is the equivalent of you standing in the back of the church saying "Hello, welcome to our church, are you visiting today?"
When people come to your church's website and what do they see? Hopefully they see the answers to questions they have in their mind. What questions do they have in their mind? Well that's something you need to figure out!
Find the newest member of you congregation and ask them why the joined your church. If you do not know that, find 5 members and ask them about what prompted them to come through that door the first time. Unfortunately many traditional churches have a family legacy plan, where the children (if they keep living in the same city) will simply attend the church their parents did. Because of this, many of these churches do not have a clear sense of their mission and/or vision. They preach the gospel, sing the songs, and host the annual spaghetti dinner; and expect the community to come swarming through their doors. You need to know how to connect to them, not the other way around.
Learn What to Say
So now you know who you want to talk to, consider what you want to say to them. Everything on the site speaks to them; the design decisions, photography, typography, and the actual content. Everything says something about your church and the people inside. Make the photographs relevant to the content, make the content short, concise and easy to understand, and ensure the message you are sending to them does not read like a sales brochure. Your pastor's message should not sound like a used car salesman, but speaking to how the church can help that person reading the text.
Look at the conversations you had when bringing in your most recent members. See if you can translate the conversations your pastor has in the back of the church with a prospective member, and see if your site answers any of their questions. Then go forth and be fishers of men!
Photo courtesy of Bobbi Dombrowski