Categories
Web Design

What Is The Purpose Of A Church Website?

What is the purpose of a church website?

Good question!

I’ve read several articles on this topic around the Internet. At least a couple I’ve seen have sparked some rather, shall we say, spirited conversation?

Folks have some pretty definite ideas on the subject. And, whatever purpose they have in mind, they very often feel strongly that it should be the purpose every church pursues.

Seriously.

Ask 10 different people what the purpose of a church website is, and you’ll get at least five different answers. And, you know what? They’re all right.

And, they’re all wrong.

Why? Because when it comes to websites in general, and church websites in particular, one size no longer fits all (and, it hasn’t for a long time).

So, what’s the answer? What is the purpose of a church website?

The answer is: Whatever.

Yep. Whatever.

The purpose of a church website is whatever purpose a local assembly determines it to be. Hopefully, that purpose was discerned through consulting the LORD, and following His lead.

When is the purpose of a church website defined?

For some, that may mean building and maintaining one, simple “general purpose” website. For others, it may mean building one or more micro-sites.

Still, for others, it may mean not building a website at all (contrary to popular belief, every church does not need a website).
[testimonials autoplay=”false”] [testimonial author=”Kent Shaffer” avatar_type=”url” avatar_value=”https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/2949549185/47ae6643ebefd3d7765426ec7d91da8a.jpeg” meta=”Church Relevance” link=”http://churchrelevance.com/about/”]
Keep in mind it’s okay if your church website is quite different from someone else’s. Prayerfully focus on what is the best way for you to use the Internet to obey God’s will in your unique context. The more Spirit-led your design process is the better. Maybe God wants your website to be simple yet effective. Maybe you need to try something radical that’s never been done before. Maybe you don’t need a website. The point is if you have any leading from the Holy Spirit, obey it even if the experts call you crazy.[/testimonial] [/testimonials]

The first stage of the website design process is prayerful planning. The purpose of a church website is determined during that stage.

Consulting God—seeking His wisdom early and often—and obeying the Spirit’s leading is key. It will make all the difference in whether your purpose and efforts produce fruit or are done in vain. (Psalm 127:1-2; 1 Corinthians 3:10-13)

During the planning stage, some of the questions to be answered and resolved include:

  1. How does God want your local body to use the Internet?
  2. Why do you want to build a website? What is your motivation?
  3. What do you want to accomplish with it?
  4. How do you want to use it?
  5. What spiritual/administrative/scriptural goal(s) will a website help your church to achieve?

To help you reach a decision on the purpose of a church website, you’ll also need to clarify who you’re targeting to serve with it.

Whom has God given you to serve? Where are they? Why might they come to your website to begin with? Why might they return to it? What needs do they have? Does God want you to use your website to meet those needs? How?

So, for example, a church website purposed exclusively to foster community and encourage spiritual growth among believing youth in the congregation will look and function differently, and serve very different needs, than a church’s “main” or primary website purposed to serve several audiences.

A church purposing to reach a specific non-Christian demographic in their local community, will build a different website than one purposed to serve a specific demographic within the body of Christ.

Once defined, the purpose of a church website acts as a kind of compass, and offers many benefits:
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  • It informs and guides all other decisions that need to be made with regards to the website’s design and content.
  • It helps you to arrive where you’re meaning to go.
  • Your website’s purpose helps keep you focused and on track when you become overwhelmed by the myriad options and choices along the way.
  • Your website’s purpose can help you save time and money when you’re tempted to veer off, and waste both.
  • Your website’s purpose can help you build and unify your team.
  • Determining your website’s purpose will also equip you to give an answer to well-meaning naysayers and critics who’ll try to convince you that your website is wrong, because it’s not serving a particular audience, or meeting a particular need.

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The bottom line

God is sovereign. The Internet is a communications tool. The World Wide Web is one branch of it. If you build a church website, it will be connected to it.

How and why and when and for whose benefit your church chooses to use this powerful tool to communicate and inform and serve is up to your church.

There are many more considerations to ponder and clarify on the way to determining purpose. However, the goal of this article is not to delve into what those considerations are.

Nor is this post meant to offer advice or guidance about how you and your leaders can arrive at a consensus about them.

My goal today is simply this: to establish once and for all that the purpose of your church website is whatever your church determines that purpose to be, by God’s grace and leading.

What do you think?

What do you think the purpose of a church website is? Do you believe it’s the same for every local assembly?

Share you thoughts; leave a comment below.

Categories
Web Design

Best Church Website Ideas of 2014

It’s year-end, goal setting time! If you’ve been brainstorming simple ways to make your website a more effective ministry tool during 2015, here are seven of the best church website ideas CWI offered during 2014.

Use them to jump-start your efforts in the new year!

Seven Best Church Website Ideas of 2014

Increase Spiritual Fruit Online

How to Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World

What makes an effective church website is much more than developing strategies, choosing eye-popping visual elements, and applying best practices to content creation.

The real truth is, if the time and effort we spend building and using our websites fails to make disciples and produce spiritual fruit, all of our work is going to one day go up in smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

Make a User-Friendly Website

7 Simple Web Design Tips for a User-Friendly Church Website

Creating a satisfying and fruitful experience for your website’s visitors leaves a good impression of your church, and makes your website a joy to use.

To accomplish that, and make the very best church website you can, smart Web workers know that improvements never stop.

That may make the task seem overwhelming. But, building a website that people enjoy using is easier than you think.

Build Profitable Online Giving Pages

14 Ideas For Building Profitable Church Donation Page Content

Offering the convenience of online giving is a practical way to use your church website to care for God’s family (Galatians 6:10).

But, offering convenience isn’t what’s most important. Making the most of every opportunity to foster spiritual maturity in the Christian life is God’s priority (Ephesians 4:11-13; Colossians 1:28-29).

Wise, discerning Web workers make that their priority too. So, they learn to produce the best church website content for fostering spiritually profitable giving.

Work Smarter and Get Stuff Done

Outsourcing: How to Work Smarter and Get Things Done

Think a lack of time, expertise, money, or human resources is keeping you from having a great church website? Think again.

Here’s a smart option for delegating the work you need done.

Create Inspiring Ministry Page Descriptions

The Secret to Creating Inspiring Ministry Descriptions

Believers visiting your church for the first time want to know how your ministries will help them grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally.

This post reveals the “secret sauce” for helping you describe the benefits people receive by connecting within your local church body.

Decode “Christianese” on Your Website

How to “Decode” Your Church Website Content (Part 1)
The Church Lingo Page is Your Website’s “Secret Decoder Ring” (Part 2)

The “insider language” your local body uses to communicate with one another may be off-putting to people new to your ministry. But replacing words like sin, salvation, and faith, with less “churchy” expressions, as some have suggested, won’t inspire understanding.

This idea is much more hospitable, and serves people better.

Stay on Top of “Church Website” Topics

Church Website Ideas Is a Flipboard Magazine

Wading through the myriad “church tech” blogs out there to find honest, value-added, rock solid guidance on “church website” stuff is both difficult and time-consuming.

That’s why I’m curating this resource for you!

Enjoy a Safe and Happy New Year!

I’m so looking forward to serving you in 2015!

Image Credit: Jan Mennens | Flickr cc

Categories
Web Design

7 Simple Web Design Tips for a User-Friendly Church Website

Creating a satisfying and fruitful user experience takes a lot of time and consistent, ongoing effort (read: improvements never stop). Here are seven simple web design tips to help you to improve performance and continue building a church website that people will enjoy using.

Make it Fast Loading

When was the last time you checked out your website’s design from your user’s point of view? You want your church website to be appealing and leave a good impression of your church with your visitors. You want people to enjoy using your website.

But a fast-loading, user-friendly website doesn’t just happen.

To start, people are impatient on Internet. They don’t like waiting for a website to load. So, it’s important to make adjustments that improve the load speed of your webpages in order to keep visitors from bouncing away from your website prematurely.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Boosting Website Speed:

10 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Website and Improve Conversion
by Kathryn Aragon at The Daily Egg

How to Speed Up WordPress
by Marcus Taylor at Smashing Magazine

Navigation Should Be Easy

Visitors must be able to find their way around your website quickly and easily.

Navigation should be consistent across all pages of the website. The labels you use should make sense to the user.

If a webpage is too long, trim away unnecessary content.

If it’s still too long, you can reduce scrolling by using bookmarks or anchor links to help visitors quickly navigate the page.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Navigation:

Website Navigation: Tips, Examples and Best Practices
by Cody Ray Miller at The Daily Egg

Nonprofit Website Navigation: Tips and Best Practices
by Alex McLain at WiredImpact

Shrink Your Images

On the Internet, image size affects loading speeds. Large image files make webpages load slower. Most professional Web designers optimize images by compressing them.

Before uploading an image to the server and using it on your website, you should optimize it to produce the smallest possible file.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Image Compression:

18 Image Compressor to Speed Up Your Website
by Grace Smith at Mashable

A Guide to Optimal Image Compression in WordPress
by Mark Forrester at WooThemes

Include “The Basics”

Now, you might think this one could go without saying. But, the number of church websites missing service times and/or a map and directions is mind-boggling!

Sure, you might be thinking, “Our street address is there. People can just plug it into Google Maps themselves and get directions.” Yup, that’s true.

But, consider this: these days, your first opportunity to treat guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, and generous way (1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2) isn’t when people arrive in the parking lot on Sunday morning.

That opportunity occurs when they arrive on your website.

Checking service times, and downloading a map and directions, are two of the top reasons why people (especially new visitors) will go to your website. Be kind to them.

If your website contains nothing else, make sure these details are present and easily seen.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Adding the Basics:

New Research Reveals Why People Visit Church Websites
by Jeremy Weber at Christianity Today

Adding Google Maps to Your Website Just Got Easier
at Google Developers Blog

Check Spelling and Grammar

Here’s another tip that’s too often overlooked. Content filled with grammar and spelling errors is distracting. It diverts your reader’s attention from your message. It hurts your effectiveness and reflects poorly on your ministry.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Spelling & Grammar:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Best of The Best: 10 Online Grammar and Punctuation Checker Tools
by firstsiteguide

Text Must Be Easy to Read

While we are still on the subject, the text on your website must be easy to read. The color of the text must be in high contrast with your website’s background color.

The font size should be large enough to make it readable. Also, be sure to make use of whitespace, and break long paragraphs into chunks using section headings.

Web Design Tips for Readable Text:

How To Write So That People Will Read
by Brent Gummow at Jimdo Blog

How to Use Visual Hierarchy to Create Clear and Easy-to-Read Web Pages
by Pamela Wilson at copyblogger

Make Sure All Links Work

Broken links can give visitors the impression that your website isn’t regularly updated or properly maintained.

Broken links are also one of the quickest ways to make frustrated users bounce from your website.

You should regularly check older pages for broken links. Link checkers can make easy work of this task.

Web Design Tips & Tools for Checking Links:

How To Automatically Find and Fix Broken Links in WordPress
by John Hughes at themeisle

How to Find and Fix Broken WordPress Links
by Kevin Muldoon at Elegant Themes

A Final Word: Consistency

This quick list barely scratches the surface of website maintenance tasks, improvements, optimizations and updates you should be completing on an ongoing basis.

Applying these seven tips regularly and consistently will improve your website’s performance and help create an user-friendly website people will enjoy returning to again and again.

Last Modified: Nov 9, 2018 @ 4:49 pm

 

Categories
Web Design

Organize Your CSS Properties Alphabetically

Everyone who writes code does it a little differently. Sometimes we get lazy, or we don’t know any better, or there isn’t a clear standard. I have worked with a lot of different freelance coders and everyone has their own coding style. Today I wanted to share a little tip that I have recently had my team doing to better organize our CSS properties.

For years I was ordering my CSS properties by type, but every time I had to go back (months later) to make a change, or edit someone else’s code, I found that it really made it hard for others to edit.

Here is a sample of what my code looked like:

.class {
border: 1px solid #FFF;
width: 100px;
padding: 20px;
height: 100px;
position: relative;
z-index: 1;
border-radius: 20px;
}

So, I switched to ordering my properties alphabetically, which makes sense in my head, but I think as coders we could all save each other a lot of time if we did the same thing!

Here is what the code looks like now:

.class {
border: 1px solid #FFF;
border-radius: 20px;
height: 100px;
padding: 20px;
position: relative;
width: 100px;
z-index: 1;
}

If you have OCD about your code, this is a great way to organize your code! At Bearded all of my developers are now coding their CSS in this fashion so it is quicker for another coder to step in and edit.

So, how do you organize your CSS?

Categories
Web Design

Setting Smart Goals for Your Church Website

I am writing a series of posts about setting goals for your church website. I’ve talked about goal setting before. In this post I want to introduce you to the idea of setting smart goals for your website. We all know that goals are important. In every aspect of our lives we must set goals. Your church website is no different. The big question is are you being smart with your goals?

Categories
Web Design

6 Tools for Responsive Web Design

It seems like responsive web design is here to stay. I recently started designing and developing my new projects around the responsive web design methodology. Designing and developing with multiple screen sizes in mind, presents a whole new set of challenges for designers and developers.

I have put together a list of some great tools I have used to help make my new responsive websites work.

Categories
Web Design

Church Website Inspiration: Irving Bible Church

I found this website this week and thought it was a great example of a focused church website. Irving Bible Church’s website features a large rotating hero image, good for featured information, and important links. The content is very well organized, and all the church ministry web pages match the rest of the design (For example, no crazy fonts or design for the Children’s page).

Make sure to check this one out! Another great church website! www.irvingbible.org

Categories
Web Design

5 Questions To Ask Before You Contact A Web Designer

I chat with web design clients all the time about their website projects. We talk about website goals, budgets, features, competitors, and technology. Looking back at my conversations there are a few questions I wish potential clients would ask themselves before contacting me. By looking at these 5 simple questions, you can save a lot of initial back and forth time with any potential designer you might hire.

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Web Design

Website Idea #4 – Make Your Site Mobile

Let’s be honest, you haven’t given any thought to making your church website mobile friendly. With smartphones everywhere in the US, as web designers we need to be aware that more and more people will access our sites from their mobile phones. Luckily, for website developers, this task isn’t that a big issue. There are CSS frameworks available in the market that allows users to make mobile versions of every web application.

Today I want to share with you some of my favorite plugins and frameworks that will make it easy for you to create a mobile version of your website. Enjoy!

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Web Design

The Disadvantages of Flash

Adobe’s Flash technology has recently come under much debate in the design community. One one side of the debate, the strong willed Flash designers and developers, who have invested time and money into learning and developing for the Flash platform. And the other side, are the web designers and developers who want nothing more than a standard, HTML 5 to rule. I want to take a look at why Flash might be bad for your next website.

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Web Design

Setting Goals for Your Church Website

Goal setting, whether it is for your job, or your website can be a difficult task. Often I find myself forgetting to set goals for my projects, which can be a disaster if you are launching a new website, or if your testing an idea. Today I want to go over setting goals for your church website using your vision statement as the foundation.

Now that you have a vision for your church website, we can now set a clear goal. This part of the development process is often overlooked by my clients and pastors I have worked with. So make sure you really take the time to think about why you have a church website.

Make Sure it’s Measurable

We need to take our vision for our church website and focus it down into a few measurable goals. Want to increase online giving? Do you want to increase the amount of new visitor emails? Be honest with your goals, look at your church vision, what does it tell you about how you want your website to function?

In my last article I covered the need to develop your church website vision. I recommend going back and reviewing your vision statement if you haven’t already.

This was the vision statement of our example Church X:

Church X’s vision is to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to young families in our community. Our website echos this vision by focusing on a message of community, small groups, and family friendly services.

Looking at this simple and fairly standard vision statement we can define three goals for our new church website. First, is our focus on community, we are going to want to target our first goal to building our community. Second, our church is building our vision around small groups. Third, our family friendly services need to be highlighted.

Setting The Goals


So let’s look at our newly defined focus areas:

  1. Community focused
  2. Connecting small group members
  3. Child care for our family friendly services

Using these three areas we set our goals for our new website. Being community focused we want to set a goal to post two blog posts about our local community partnered events. This will be a nice way to help connect to our local community, as well help drive more local traffic to our website.

Since our church is focused on small groups, I would want to increase the amount of new sign-ups for small groups by 10%. We will cover a few ways to do this in my next post, planning your website to meet your goals.

Last, is our child care for family friendly services. I want to make sure that new parents can find information about our childcare services. I would like to increase the page views(number of times the page has been viewed) of our childcare page by 25%

Simple, easy, and measurable. These three goals will be our first steps in developing and launching our church website. We will look back to these often and make changes when needed. Make sure to have your goals ready, next post I will cover creating a plan to execute your goals.

Categories
Web Design

Developing A Vision For Your Church Website

Your church website is likely the first place most people will visit long before stepping through your church doors. But today, most church websites read as a billboard, shouting at the user, yelling why Church X is the best church, the coolest, and the most unique. This technique turns people off. It screams at users, when they want to engage your website, learn more about you, and develop a relationship.

More than ever pastors need to manage their church’s online presence, thoughtfully and faithfully developing a vision, and a mission for the church website. To view the church website as another arm of ministry, with the potential to reach new people every day.

I will help walk you through this idea of developing your vision, creating goals, a website plan, then where to start in the process of creating your church website.

Categories
Web Design

4 New Church Sites for 2010

I am always on the look out for great church websites. We have highlighted some of our favorites on our Top Church Websites of 2010 post. Today I wanted to share with you four more websites that have made it to our list. What makes these sites stand out are their great use of typography, creative user interface, and use of texture. Enjoy!

Categories
Web Design

22 CSS Layout Tutorials and Tricks

CSS is the style guide for all websites, it tells the browser what the page should look like. Today I share with you 22 resources to help you with your CSS layouts. These tutorials and tricks range from liquid columns to adaptable view design concepts. Enjoy and if you have a link to share feel free!
Categories
Web Design

20 of the Best Church Website Designs

Churches have always have a hard time fighting the persona of being slow to adopt new trends.  In web design churches have made up a lot of ground. I am very happy to see that a lot of churches are putting emphasis on their church websites! To kick off the new year we wanted to share with you 20 of the best church websites we could find. We tried to avoid the churches that always make these lists, but some still made the list, simply because their websites stand out. Enjoy, and if you have a website you enjoy, please link to it in the comments.

Categories
Web Design

28 High Quality Graphics for Your Sermon Series

Last Modified: Sep 4, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

A friend of mine recently introduced me to CreativeMYK, a site dedicated to providing church designers free resources for their designs.

The idea is simple, create an account, provide some of your stuff to share and network with other designers. The site is very cool and provides a ton a resources for designers new and old.

Categories
Web Design

22 Church Website Design Inspiration Galleries

We all need a little inspiration from time to time. Today I share with you 22 websites you can use that will inspire your next designs. Each of these sites are online galleries that showcase the best website designs. I hope these will help inspire your next creations!