In a previous post we looked at why it’s a good idea to have a Staff Page on your church website. We also looked at some ways to improve user experience on your church website, by taking great photos of your pastors and ministry team for your Staff Page.
But a page with some photos and names isn’t going to be much help to anybody. The key to an effective Staff Page is not just each person having a great photo — it’s having a great bio to go along with it.
To complete your church website’s Staff Page, you’ll need a succinct and engaging one-paragraph biography for each staff member. Take note of both those points: succinct and engaging. To get people to stay on your website, we need both brevity and engagement. Following these two criteria is a guaranteed way of ensuring your Staff Page fulfills its purpose.
When it comes to writing content for the web, there a lot of factors working against you from the start. People read 25% slower online, 38% of web users leave a page before reading anything, and 79% of web users scan rather than read. For these reasons and more, it’s so important to keep your written content as concise as possible. No waffling here. Tell your staff that if they want their bio read, it can’t be any longer than a paragraph. A real paragraph, not three paragraphs squished together with the spaces removed! Give your staff 300 words and make sure they stick to it.
Even short pieces of writing can be boring. If your audience isn’t engaged, they’re not going to stick around. If the purpose of your Staff Page is introduce your staff and let your church feel like they know a little about them, the bios will need a mix of “essential info”, role description and fun facts. But each of these three facets will need to be woven together in an engaging, coherent way.
Here’s a good model to use to fill a four-sentence staff bio. Each point is addressed in one sentence only:
- Family or heritage
- Role & description
- Passions or hopes in ministry
- Random fun fact
Here’s an example about an imaginary pastor named John.
John is married to Jane and has three crazy, energetic boys, Tom, Dick and Harry. John is the Associate Pastor at Example Church, and is responsible for seeing our church grow through Connect Groups, Prayer Groups and our evening service. His desire is to see everyone in our area know and love Jesus and each other through genuine community. He loves coffee, surfing and his wife, although not in that order!
When asking your staff to write a bio, be sure to give them clear guidelines in terms of length ad what points to address. A four-point guide like the one above can ensure a clear, engaging, succinct bio as well as maintaining consistency across the page.
Just like last week when we discussed consistency in photos, we also want consistency in writing style. Having everyone follow the same model is a good start, but keep an eye on which tense, point-of-view and mood everyone is using in their writing. If need be, make minor modifications to bios to ensure you don’t have one bio written in the First Person point-of-view when everyone else has written in the Third. If you have a staff member who is just about to start in their role, make sure their writing is in the present tense, not future (“Jack works as Youth Pastor…”, not “Jack will be working as Youth Pastor…” All these points are very minor, but everything put together is working to create a user experience, and we want our website to have as positive a user experience as possible. Personally, for a church website’s Staff Page, I think writing in the Third Person Present Tense in a casual (but not slang) voice presents nicely and makes your website come across as friendly and welcoming, but still reputable and credible.
It’s strange that what I perceive to be such an important page on a church website is often overlooked by churches, but by thinking through these guidelines and principles, you can make sure your church has an engaging, consistent, effective Staff Page that might just be the push someone needs to join your church, commit to your church, or get more active in church life.