The beginner’s guide to church websites: 4 steps
Friday, November 06, 2020
There are many communication channels for your church. You can talk from the stage, in your bulletin, through text or email messaging, on one or all social media channels, and your website.
What matters most? That you communicate where most in your congregation have access to — and where your community can discover you. Print can’t do that economically.
Your website is the easiest way. It doesn’t require special downloads; just internet accessibility. And most Americans have that. In fact, three states (Washington, Utah, and Colorado) have 90+% of their households with high speed internet, according to statista.com. Mississippi ranks lowest with 76%.
Your church needs a digital communication hub that’s trusted and known. Everything points there. If your congregation or community wants info, they know they can find it at your web URL address. Here are the initial four steps to creating a successful website.
How people find you. This URL (uniform resource locator) or address should be easy to say and remember. Like www.BeKnownForSomething.com. Domains are categorized with top-level domain prefixes like .com, .org, or .church.
There are many choices (those three are the most popular, though). You can use several (they can all direct to one website or individual ones). You can’t own them — you simply rent them from a reseller. If you stop paying? You lose them.
To build a website, you produce files that are read to look like your user-interface (UI). Those files are stored on a computer that’s connected directly to the internet. Those dedicated servers are called hosts.
You don’t own them either. It’s rented space. That space is accessed via an IP address (looks like 172.16.254.1). You pay annually (like your domain) and “point” your domain to the IP address. This helps someone find your website files simply by your URL.
3. Content Management System (CMS).
Most proprietary CMSs charge fees because they have very easy setup and interfaces. Always choose what fits your budget, is easy-to-learn, exceptionally easy to use, with lots of functionalities and integrations (calendar, registrations, video, albums, etc.). WordPress does this, but you need a developer who can help with set up and troubleshooting. Many UIs are available (for free or extra cost) and are called themes or templates.
Finally, the most critical component! People click on your domain to get to the content (via your UI); but the way they expect to get it is called User Experience (UX). Be creative (within brand standards) with UI but ensure your UX doesn’t break web paradigm. No one wants to figure out how to find content. Concentrate on main menu organization (about 5 or 6 choices) and the dropdown options (again, about 5-6). Then, create content using good SEO (search engine optimization) principals and use your CMS to format the content so it looks like your church. Give people what they want, how they want it, as fast as they want it. And that’s really fast.
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