I didn’t want to start out this blog post with an overused saying, but I must: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” There, I said it. I feel so ashamed. I just got over it.
As I visited churches in an effort to find a new church home last year, and as I have visited many churches over the years as a conference leader, I have found that most are lacking in directional signs. First impressions made on guests are so important, yet so many churches overlook the need for adequate signage. Many guests make a decision to return to the church campus well before they ever hear a sermon or participate in a worship service, and signage is important to help guests feel empowered, not frustrated, with their visit. Guests usually form an impression about the church within a few minutes of being on the campus (as short a time as 30 seconds according to some experts). Does your church have clear signage so that a first-time guest can navigate the myriad of hallways, common areas, and parking lot options? Do they know where to go once they walk inside your church? The answer may surprise you.
First impressions tend to be lasting impressions, so do your very best to “think like a guest.” From the moment a guest arrives at your church, they will be looking for a number of places like the ones below:
• Guest parking
• Worship center
• Coffee bar/fellowship area
• Large common areas where people gather
• Church office
• Children’s classrooms
• Student classrooms
• Adult classrooms
You may know exactly where all of these are, but your guests don’t. And without adequate signage, you will frustrate guests. Here are a few tips for making your church more attractive for guests by using directional signs:
1. Think from the outside in – make certain that directional signs clearly show a guest where to park and where to enter the building.
2. Place easy-to-read directional signs at all major entrances and high-traffic areas
3. Identify all classrooms with clearly visible room numbers
4. Place directional signs at all hallway junctures…every time a guest has a decision to make (right, left, straight?) have directional signs
5. If guests must walk outside the main building to go to another area, have clearly visible directional signs along the sidewalks
6. Be consistent in your signage…use one color, one font style, and place signs at the same height…no “Frankenstein” signage, please
7. Don’t place too many words on signs…make them simple to read and understand
8. Be sure your signs have highly contrasting colors (i.e. dark sign/white lettering)
9. When you think you have placed enough signs around your campus, place some more
10. Visitors tend to move from sign-to-sign, so ask a friend to come to your church and see if they can locate certain areas you give them to find using only the directional signs you’ve placed in and around the campus