I love websites. I like looking at them, making them, ridding the earth of the ugly ones, and teaching folks how to create their own.
Outside of meeting someone from a local congregation, a ministry’s website is the first glimpse into a particular spiritual community’s way of life.
Judgments are formed quickly(in less than 2/10ths of a second an online guest forms a first impression of an organization.”) A church may be the most engaging and exciting place but if that’s not communicated digitally and visually an online visitor may choose not to visit offline.
For years, at my current church, we experienced a similar disconnect between a bland digital presence versus a vibrant community. The essence of who we are: our dynamic worship, unique messages, passionate preaching was not communicated via our online presence.
Instead our former website was uninviting, static and hard to update.
As we designed our new website we wanted the site to be easy for first time users to navigate and relevant to our current church members. We also wanted a sleek modern design, an expansive media library, and a bold events calendar. Media and video elements are very important to our congregation.
- to help people find a church to attend (online or in person)
- to advise potential and active members of ministry and events
- to offer spiritual content that helps people grow in their faith
In addition to these objectives, a ministry should also consider
- First, asking the congregation what they want. (I created a quick sample survey here). The goal of this task is to foster two-way communication between the congregation and leadership.
- Researching and benchmarking websites that communicate in an effective an inspirational way. Some examples we used in benchmarking our site were: http://www.mountainpark.org/ http://hillsong.com/http://elevationchurch.org/
A beautiful website doesn’t have to cost $100,000 and it doesn’t need to be customized one of a kind site to depict your faith community.
There are many inexpensive ways to build a site. A ministry may use online platforms such as wix.com, weebly.com or moonfruit.com. Many churches use a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress with a template or Drupal.
Whichever route your church decides to take, remember…all money spent on an online presence should be seen as an investment to make disciples who transform the world.