Church Web Site Design
There are many church web hosting companies that offer church web site design. So many, in fact, that it can be very difficult to choose the right one.
I took the time to investigate many of them. My research suggests the following.
What Should You Expect from Your Church Web Site Design Company?
There are different levels of help that are offered by various online companies. Basically, they are three:
- Complete design services. Most Christian web site design firms offer to build the entire site design for you. They, of course, don’t write the content for you. But, they create the banner/header, design the navigation menu, and often set up various standard pages such as contact me, about me, etc. Essentially, they develop what’s called the look and feel of your site.
- Assisted design services. Assisted services usually start with you choosing a basic template. The designers then use that starting point and make changes so that it has a unique look and feel.
- Template help. This is the most basic type of help. You choose a template from among the ones they offer – which may be 20 or it may be 200. You then can make changes as you desire – and as your abilities allow. If you get stuck, you can contact support but they won’t usually be able to help without charging a fee.
How Much Should You Expect to Pay?
How much will you have to pay to get quality church web site design help? That depends on which level of help you choose (see above).
If you choose a template and don’t need to make any changes, you will probably get away without paying anything extra.
If you choose assisted design services, you may be charged a per-hour rate. This will range from $60 to $110 per hour… yes, per hour. Sometimes a church web site host will give free advice – but will not actively help. If they actually do some work, expect to pay.
If you want complete design services, you will definitely pay (except in one unusual case). How much will you pay? It varies. But as a rule, you can expect to pay at least $500 for a complete design. For more complicated designs you could end up paying around $3,000.
This is a lot of money! But if you really want a unique look and feel (which I highly recommend) you may want to consider paying the up front costs.
Church Web Site Design Considerations
If you are going to pay for a unique look and feel, you should have some high expectations. Consider the following points as you search for your church web site hosting company.
- Ease of use. If you are paying for your church web site design, it better be easy to use... your visitors should be able to easily find what they are looking for. So your site navigation needs to be visible and logical. Visitors shouldn’t have to click more than once to find out who you are or what you stand for. They should just have to click once to get a feel for what your church is like. Don’t make your visitors search for the about us or contact us pages.
- Attractive look and feel. This probably goes without saying. But if you are paying for it, it better look unique and nice.
- Make sure the content you add is high value. I see so many church web sites that miss this very basic task. The site might have great graphics, but then it is short on text. Give your visitors a taste of your church by adding excellent content. Correct grammatical errors. Write short paragraphs. Use bullets. But most of all – write content that fully explains the answers your visitors are looking for.
- You should be able to divide your site so that each ministry area has it’s own section. Your youth group and worship team should have different sections. Your Sunday School and preaching should have at least their own page – and multiple pages preferably. Each ministry leader should then be able to login to their section with a private password and make changes as they need. Each area should be able to have a directory of people involved, prayer requests, class notes or audio/video of sermons or lessons, and a calendar of events (if the main calendar is not sufficient).
- The look and feel of your site should match your offline look. Make sure your design team integrates your church logo and byline into the header of your page.
- Make sure the site reflects your vision and strategy for your site. What do you want to accomplish with your site? How will you do it? Do you just want to put up a basic church brochure? Or do you want to make your site the go-to site for your entire city or neighborhood?
- Along with the above, determine how your church web site design will help you reach out to those outside your church. Will you just try to attract people in? Or will your site actually minister to people? There is an important difference. In my opinion, a church should try to do both. Give information about your church in such a way that people can get a feel for your congregation. But also do some things that minister. This goes beyond putting up a page with the gospel. That is a good start. But what can you do that will actually impact your community? Can you put up information about the latest happenings at your local schools? Can you keep up to date information about local sports scores and happenings? Can you become the go-to site for information about your city or town? The more you give people reasons to return to your site, the more they are likely to visit your church.
- A key issue is how information is gathered and maintained. Your site should have the ability to collect names and contact information and store them in a database. Some church web site hosts allow you to create forms to collect data… but then don’t store that information in a database. You should look for a web host that offers a database. Why? Because when information is in a database you can sort and search by any of the fields. Let’s say you want to send a mass email to all choir members. If your information is in a database, you simply do a search for people who are in the choir. You get a list and then you send out an email to them. This is a real time-saver.
- Your church web site design should include the ability to accept reservations and even take money. If you do this, you will be able to accept tithes and offerings on your site. You will be able to take reservations for your next banquet. You can sell tickets, books, or other items on your site.
Church Web Site Design Conclusion
Now that you know what you are looking for, let’s leave church web site design and look at church web site hosting companies.
Are you wondering if you need a church web site? Do you need to convince someone that your church needs a site?
So you don't want to pay for your site. You want free church websites. Read this for more information.