13 Common Mistakes Churches Make With Mobile Apps

Thomas CostelloWeb Leave a Comment

Mistakes with mobile apps are nothing new. You’ve probably downloaded numerous apps only to get frustrated and uninstall them.

Now, the last thing you want is for someone to do that with your church app. Yet, churches are making just as many mistakes as other mobile apps.

If you want to have an app for your church, make sure it’s done right so it’s effective and more likely to become a user’s top used app versus a download and forget it app.

1. Not Having One

First, let’s clarify something – not every church needs an app. If your members rarely use apps or prefer to actually just talk on their phones, there’s not much reason to invest in creating an app.

However, if you have a tech-savvy church family, why not give them a tool to interact more fully with your church from the palm of their hand?

Odds are, your members probably already have Christian apps on their phone, such as Bible or daily devotional app. If you can give them an app that meets all their needs, they will use it regularly.

2. Using Just One Platform

Take a poll of your members to see what type of phone operating system they use. There’s very little chance of all your members using just iOS (or iPhone) or some version of Android. Some may even have Windows phones.

One of the worst mistakes with mobile apps is choosing just iOS or Android instead of both. If you just pick one, you’re alienating an entire group of mobile users.

As of May 2019, iOS accounted for 22.74% of mobile users worldwide, while Android accounted for 75.27%. Even though iOS is significantly lower, that’s nearly a quarter of all users.

Those stats get much closer, though, when talking just about users in America. As of May, Android has a 45.27% market share, while iOS jumps ahead with 54.47%. So, you don’t want to leave half of your users without access to your church app.

3. Information Overload

A common mistake with mobile apps is trying to stuff in too much. You want every possible feature and every bit of information you can possible fit in.

Instead of your church app actually being useful, it’s clunky and frustrating. Sure, the information is there, but no one can find it. Think of it as if your church website was only available in a font size of 8 with 90 pages for users to navigate through.

It’s not fun. So, limit the information in your app to what’s most necessary. A few things you’d definitely want to include are:

  • Service hours
  • Upcoming events
  • Location – an address is fine
  • Phone number or contact form

Outside of these four things, it’s completely up to your church. The other items you put in your church app will vary based on what your ultimate goal is.

4. Skimping On Details

On the other hand, you want your app to be useful. If all you give users is the most basic details, what’s the point? It’s helpful to have the basics in a quick app versus searching for your church website. However, your members already know your hours and location.

They’ll want more. For instance, maybe they want to read the latest blog post or see recommended reading from other sources. Perhaps they want a quick list of volunteer opportunities for the current month.

The idea is to make the app a must-have. Striking a balance in the amount of information and features isn’t always easy, but once you do, your users will thank you.

5. Not Offering In-App Tithing

What church doesn’t want to increase tithing? If you have a church app, make sure it offers a way to tithe within the app. The more ways you offer for members and even non-members to tithe, the more people who will.

Many people actually prefer tithing outside of church. It’s more convenient, especially when it comes to fitting in with their budget schedule. Plus, there’s no judgment from others who try to see just how much someone puts in the collection plate.

With just a few quick taps, a user can tithe and go about their day. It’s quick and simple. Plus, if they’re having an extra generous day, they open the app and tithe again.

If you want to help increase tithing, learn more about your members through our 2019 must-know church statistics. You can also start using these 18 scriptures to help inspire more giving.

6. Not Keeping It Updated

Sadly, this is one of the most common mistakes with mobile apps in general, not just church apps. An app is uploaded to app stores and then it’s forgotten.

However, creating an app doesn’t mean you’re finished with it once it’s ready for download. As new devices and operating systems are released, you’ll need to make sure your church app is updated to stay compatible. Glitches and compatibility problems will make users uninstall your app quickly.

Besides, as devices and operating systems as new features, take advantage of them. Of course, don’t just put in new features for the sole purpose of being trendy. Only use them if they’re relevant to something within your app.

Updating isn’t just about compatibility, though. Your users want to see your church app grow and evolve. Think about how websites looked in the 90s versus today. It’s a major change and for sites that have been around for nearly 30 years or so, they’ve changed with the times.

Your app must do the same thing. Update the interface. Add/remove features. Make tweaks so it loads faster and is more responsive.

Finally, update the content in the app itself. If your church app is still showing your most recent blog post was from three years ago (if it actually was three years ago, it’s time to refresh your blogging strategy), your app needs new content. Keeping your app fresh keeps users coming back.

7. Skipping Interactive Elements

You have a church app, but what do users do with it? Is it just a few screens with details about your church? Unless there’s something to interact with, users won’t come back for more. Odds are, they’ll just uninstall it. Some may even leave negative reviews.

Your church’s app must be interactive. For instance, you might have a prayer feature where people can upload prayer requests and respond to others.

You could have a daily devotional along with a section to take notes. The idea is to make your app more interactive so users want to keep coming back to engage with it.

8. Just Making An App Version Of Your Site

One of the worst mistakes with mobile apps is the app is just your website. The entire purpose of your app is to be different. Of course, the two can complement each other, but they shouldn’t be identical.

An app is often a more condensed version of a website along with more interactive features. Give your users something different. Otherwise, they could just use your website. Since it should already be mobile-friendly, they don’t need to add another app to their phone or tablet.

Think about how a person would engage with your church via mobile. Take a look at apps from other churches. Use all of this information to create an app that’s unique from your website.

9. Developing An App To Follow The Trend

If you’re only developing an app because it’s the trend or just incorporating trends into your app, it’s not going to end well. Most users have already picked out their favorite apps and aren’t as likely to search for something new unless it’s something that fits their needs.

App stores are constantly growing. Hundreds of brands and developers are following the latest trends. Thousands are developing apps just to have one, but without any real purpose in mind.

Stand out from all the clutter by developing an app with a clear purpose that’s incredibly useful to the user. Otherwise, users will uninstall the app. In one study, 32% of people delete apps because they’re never used and 26% delete apps that don’t fit their needs. Another 25% delete their least favorite apps just to save space on their phones.

10. Not Listening To Members’ Needs

Your members are going to be the first ones to use your app. If they don’t like it, it’s not going to be successful. This is why you have to listen to your members’ needs.

Odds are, they already have one or more Christian apps on their phones, such as a Bible app. Ask them to give you suggestions on what they’d want your church app to do. What problems could it solve for them?

Since they are your target user, develop your church app based upon what they want and need most. Then, as they use it, tweak it based on their feedback.

On that same note, once your app is live and being used by people other than your members, pay attention to reviews and feedback. Whether it’s glitches on certain types of phones to a feature that multiple people are asking for, users will help you make your app better. Listen to them and use their feedback to help your app succeed and your church grow.

11. Offering No Reason To Come Back

Why would a user want to open your app a second time? This mistake happens far too often and leads to an app either being uninstalled immediately or put on a screen the user rarely ever sees.

Your users need a reason to keep opening your app. While they don’t have to use it multiple times a day or even every day, you need features that make them want to check in regularly. A few things that bring users back include:

  • Prayer requests
  • Social community, such as your church’s own personal Reddit
  • Live streaming
  • Tithing
  • Blog posts that can be saved and interacted with, such as highlighting certain sections
  • Built-in Bible
  • Daily devotionals
  • Regular announcements

Obviously, you don’t have to have all of that or just those. Just think of it as social media. If people couldn’t interact in any way, no one would use it. The same goes for your app.

12. Going Fully Custom

One of the main reasons many churches don’t have a mobile app is the cost. Going fully custom is one of the most common mistakes with mobile apps. Yes, your church’s app should be customized to your needs, but it doesn’t have to be 100% built from scratch.

Most churches don’t have over $100,000 to spend creating an app that may only be used by 100-200 people. So, it’s easy to understand why you might skip an app altogether.

Yet, you can get a great church app without spending a fortune. Many companies use templates to reduce development time and costs. You still get to customize many of the features, the color scheme and a few other things.

So, why spend so much? Your users don’t need a completely custom app. They just want something that does what they want and still has the look and feel of your church.

13. Not Having An End-Goal In Mind

The worst of all the mistakes with mobile apps is not having any end-goal in mind. A goal of “we want an app” isn’t enough. That’s like getting in your car and saying “I want food,” but never deciding where to go.

Your church app needs to have a goal. Ideally, you should have a goal before you develop the app. Do you want it to be more informative? What about interactive? Should it bring your church family closer together? Maybe you want to bring in more visitors or just increase tithing.

Whatever the reason may be, develop your app with the goal in mind. Remember, the overall goal is to make something useful for your members and other users. Design for your users and with an end-goal in mind and you’re all set.

Every church needs a digital presence. Even if you have an app, make sure you have a church website too. Contact us today to see how to get started.

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