In my constant review of Church websites I continue to notice a trend. Sadly, I see so many church web sites that are outdated and full of blank “coming soon” pages. Yes, there are the exceptions, but most times these exceptions are larger churches with a web staff (of dedicated people). Many of the volunteer-driven church sites take off with great starts but quickly go stale.
If you are planning to build a site for your Church (you are the volunteer) think about where the site will be in a few months or a few years. Will YOU be satisfied creating, begging for, and cut-n-pasting content on a weekly basis? You must take this continued task into consideration before you make the plunge. You could spend hours design a sweet, up-to-the-minute, dynamic, streaming church website only to find that it becomes a mess and has nothing new and exciting to entice people to return on a regular basis. Even worse, it might cause confusion with old event and service times and old addresses.
If you are the church asking for a volunteer’s help (rarely the case), are you relying on the volunteer to do all of the work? Will you regularly provide fresh content to your web volunteer to keep the site current?
A website does not need to be a lot of work, but you need to determine what you want on a site before you choose to publish one.
Here are a couple considerations in choosing a direction for your website:
- Do you want a fresh dynamic site with regular updates? If you design a site intending to publish a weekly audio file (podcast), video file, pastor blog, events, etc. then you must be prepared to continue down that path. If the path is overwhelming and too much work then the content will not be available. Visitors will see your site and notice that it has inactive areas.
- Do you want a clean simple site that provides the basics? If you choose a site that is more like a brochure you might find the site is more fitting and manageable. The content will require infrequent updates and should require minimal maintenance. This site could be static HTML pages with some pleasant graphics and pictures. A simple static church website may serve your purpose now, but you need to consider the chance of growth in the future.
WordPress and Joomla are great tools to get you started. There are numerous free templates and themes readily available. The community support structures are well established and very friendly. While both WordPress and Joomla are powerful, you can easily setup a simple site with either one. Your simple site will become the foundation you can build on in the future.
If you would like some help getting your web foundation in place, please let me know. I’d love to help you through the process.