Church Websites: How and Why

... follow this advice to avoid costly mistakes

This page is fairly non-technical and should help any church considering how to create a church website assess their options. We believe that all churches that want to impact their surrounding area should have a website. However, please take heed of this warning:

Having a bad website reflects badly on your church. A bad church website may stop people from ever visiting the church and may reinforce the stereotype that the church is out of touch and irrelevant. If you are going to have a website you must resolve to have a good one! A church website is an on-going commitment, not a one off project to enable you to tick a box saying 'website done'.

The good news is that having a good church website can help improve your contact with the community, bring new people into the church, and ensure everyone is informed about your great activities. The vast majority of US, UK and European households have Internet access and it is common place for people to have access on their phones, etc.

Historically running a website was often horrendously expensive, technically difficult and demanded the skills that your church probably didn't have. These days it is easy for your church to have a website, but still tricky to have a good one. Follow the advice below and you will soon be reaping the reward.

Three possible ways to make your church website

  1. Get helpful volunteers to set it up and run it
  2. Use a "click 'n' build" system
  3. Pay for a web design agency to create your church website

All are perfectly valid solutions and we know churches successful in each of the above. To help you decide, we have broken out the pros and cons for each method:

1) Volunteers

Before accepting an offer of help always ask to see examples of previous sites the person has set up and run. If you don't know much about web sites get the opinion of a few people who do.

PROS

CONS 

Very cheap. If you have committed people in the church who know what they are doing and possess both technical and design skills (as well as a high level of commitment and plenty of time) you may have a good option.

In our experience this has very variable results. Whilst there are a lot of people who are able to make a website, few do it well. We advise caution before going down this route. Teenagers and students may seem a prime candidate to give the website task to, but in reality they soon get busy doing other things and the site may end up horribly out of date.

No technical support if the person becomes unavailable or leaves the church.

2) "Click 'n' Build" church websites

If possible try a free trial and ask for references. The references should include church web addresses. Visit the sites and see what you think. Use the church's contact page to ask them what they really think of the system.

Good systems should provide a full helpdesk including email and phone support. If they have a helpdesk try giving them a call and asking some questions to see if they are both knowledgeable and helpful.

Some systems have the option of custom built templates giving you the advantages of a web design agency without the high outlay.

 

 PROS

CONS 

In the last few years these systems have improved tremendously. They enable a non-technical administrator to set up and run the church website, normally requiring no training. Simply choose a suitable template (the look and feel of the site) and add content as easily as using a word processor.

As the design is predefined they enable you to focus on the message and not worry about anything technical.

Your site won't ever need to be out of date as you can update it free of charge as often as you wish. See how easy they can be try a 30 day free church website trial.

With most systems you can freely change your template without losing your content (be careful as some charge to change the template) – enabling you to have a new site design with only a few mouse clicks!

Most systems have a set range of templates which means if you have a very precise design in mind you may be stuck.

Watch out for hidden costs especially on support calls. Some may charge a high cost per minute (Note Church123's helpdesk is free.)

Unless you want your website to do something out of the ordinary, this is pretty much the ideal solution for churches.

 

3. Web design agency

Could be fantastic… could be overly expensive. You are likely to get better results than using volunteers but you may not find it as flexible or cost effective as the "Click 'n' Build" option.

As with the other options always get a number of references.

 PROS

CONS 

If you have a vision for a website that has a high specification and functions that are particular to your church then this may be the only route open to you.

People who design websites day in day out should be able to make a successful website.

Can be very expensive. Always shop around for multiple quotes and ask to see several previous works – no two web design agencies are the same.

Find one you feel understands your church and gives comprehensible answers to your questions. As well as the design costs there are usually additional costs including: hosting, email and updating.

Remember you may wish to redesign your site in 4 years time so calculate how much it would cost for that period.

If you haven't tried one yet we recommend you give a "click 'n' build" system a try. It won't cost anything for the no obligation 30 day free trial, but may solve a lot of your problems all in one go. Click here to try the church website builder.