Understanding Trends in Church Websites: Mobile First is Growing

If you wanted to predict the future of the web, how would you go about doing it? Further, what if you wanted to know how people accessed and utilized their church’s website?

For starters, you take a look at the hard data. We’ve been collecting data on 50+ churches for over three years and the data, dear friends, is astounding. If I told you everything we’re uncovering through these analytics, your head might explode.

But, not one to disappoint, here’s a peek into where we’re going.

We wanted to know, with a degree of certainty, what the trends were surrounding church websites. Take viewing location, for instance. The data we’ll be looking at in this post measures four areas:

  1. Mobile
  2. Computer
  3. Tablet
  4. Others

Here at Monk, we’re definitely seeing a trend with churches wanting to design for mobile-first. We worked with The Village Church recently to create a site-wide responsive design. If you’re not familiar with responsive, it means a website is “aware” of the type of browser it’s being accessed on—mobile, tablet, or desktop—and “responds” accordingly.

(If you want to see responsive in action, go to Village Church’s website and adjust the size of your browser window. Watch the images move! This is responsive design in action.)

The trends towards mobile comes with good reason and concrete data. Here’s what our stats show: Nearly 97% of users accessed their church’s website via desktop in 2009:

Viewing2009

Keep in mind, this is only four years ago. Barack Obama was still a new President and poor ol’ Tiger Woods announced an “indefinite leave from professional golf” to work on his marriage. Seems like it was just yesterday but, of course, it wasn’t.

Our online viewing habits have changed significantly since then. Here’s how users accessed church websites in 2010:

JustinWisewebsite210

It isn’t a big change, but the divergence from desktop was just beginning to pick up steam. Keep in mind the first iPad was released in April 2010—a stake-in-the-ground moment for mobile/tablet usage. Here’s what the same chart in 2011 looked like:

JustinWiseviewinglocation2011

Desktop usage by church website users decreased 7.5% from 2009 to 2011. Desktop usage decreased another 1.7% in 2012, thus solidifying the downward trend for desktop internet use. Desktop is out. Mobile and tablet use is in. (Maybe that’s what led Google to declare “desktops will be irrelevant“…by 2013.)

Look at mobile-savvy cultures like India to see where the U.S. is headed in terms of website usage. According to Mary Meeker’s research, India become a mobile-first country in May 2012. for the first time in history, more people accessed the web in this country via mobile than did desktop.

JustinWisemobiletraffice 2012

This is not insignificant.

As the slide states, many more countries will follow. So will many churches. Organizations must begin considering a mobile-first environment. This can be especially daunting for churches who still wrestle with the purpose of their desktop-based website.

Conclusion

The data I’ve presented here is a small snippet of what we’ll be covering in our yearly “State of the Church Online” report, due out the end of this month. You can get early access to the report by joining our mailing list here.

Read more from Justin here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Wise

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Chris O — 04/08/13 8:39 am

Hey, it looks like png 1, 2, and 3 isn't coming through. Would love to see the data! :)

Recent Comments
I was on a committee that closed churches. It killed me that we could close a church one week and the next week it would open with a different name and different denomination and cars would be parked up and down the street. Why? Why? Why?
 
— Carolyn vines
 
Recently I visited a Church and I was #1 put off by the timing of the meet and greet. 10 minutes after the Pastor had begun speaking he stopped for the m & g, which totally throwed the focus off from the sermon. Which made me think "wow" could that not have been done at the beginning or end. And #2 at no time during the sermon was a biblical passage given to back up what the Pastor referred to in his comments. I didn't go back as I didn't feel God's presence guiding that church.
 
— Darla
 
Solid article. I was once handed a list of 6 things I had done wrong over the previous 45 days. While some of them had indeed been things that had been discussed (usually in a 30-second conversation- nothing to indicate that they were real "problems") the vast majority of them were trumped up nonsense. When I asked this person why he never walked down to my office, less than 20 feet away form his, to discuss them, he told that he was unable to manage me. Pathetic. He then handed it to me to sign. None of the elders had signed it, and when I asked about that, he had one of them who was present in the building sign it. Interestingly, he never even signed his own name in the space provided. I asked for a copy signed by ALL of the elders multiple times afterward, and never received it. I later from one of them that he had not sought approval prior to giving it to me, despite typing their names on the document as though he had.
 
— John Mulholland (@xjm716)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.