A Simplified Guide to Church Websites: Purpose, Planning, and Presentation
If your church needs a new website, and my own research has indicated that would be around 40% of churches, then you need this book before you decide on what to do next. Before you debate the merits of a site, before you take bids, and before you start trying to build a church website all on your own, get the book. Most church staff members don't know what to look for or what to ask. In fact, Lisa was put in charge of doing research on finding our church a new website. Her attempt at sifting through the options led me to write this book. When Pastor Kelm asked if I'd discuss this very subject at a Passionate Believers Conference, I felt it was time to organize my knowledge.
While the book is written from my own freelance web designer perspective, it is actually a guide that can be used if you purchase a fancy website from a boutique, have a talented freelancer at your own church build the site, try to build it all yourself, or hire someone like me. I know that a lot of churches have limited time, so I focus on what has to get done and what to look for or ask for from a web designer. The book has over 40 images that show the reader how to use different elements of a website effectively.
This is not a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a site using Joomla. Rather, it helps you save time and money while using any Content Management System (like WordPress) or any web design service by showing you what can be done and how to do it effectively. Even if you have a system that uses a template and its own tutorials, you might want to integrate some of the suggestions in the book, but it VERY useful to any church that wants to tackle installing a CMS on its own to save money (or one that inherited a website in WordPress or Joomla and can't handle the maintenance).
It's actually not a big deal to let a few parts of a website slip. You don't need to update the history page every month, but the book will make some suggestions on what does need to be updated weekly and how to do it efficiently. I have over a decade of experience building educational and church websites, and I have learned how to take an older website and rebuild it in three days or less, so I have learned some efficient ways to handle sometimes complicated tasks.
This book will not automatically write content for your website, but it does stress that fact in the pages you'll read. Web design firms don't stress it enough, even though they should. Once the design is over, it's really up to you. This guide will provide some suggestions as to how to deal with content, but you have to realize that the most important element of your new (or old) website is writing. Some pictures and videos (also addressed), but mostly writing.
Get the book, and then build the site. Even if you read this and decide you'd rather hire me than deal with trying to deal with it yourself, I'd recommend getting the book before you hire me. It will make my job easier for you to understand what I'm trying to do and what you have to do in order to successfully maintain my creation.
Brian Jaeger writes columns for respectable websites all over the kingdom.