10
Nov
Posted in Church Resources by Mike

After creating over 70 church websites over the past 2 years, each with their own different needs, I want to share with you some thoughts on what I’ve seen that hopefully will help those building a new church website. So here are both my observations and tips:

1. By far, the most popular page on a website is your calendar. So make SURE your calendar page looks nice, is easy to navigate, and fits in with the design of your site.

2. Audio sermons are actually the 2nd most popular part of a church website (if they have them). So its a good idea to do some research if you don’t know how and start getting your sermons online. 98% of church sites I’ve been to are giving them away for free. Personally, I’m against churches trying to sell their sermons online to download. It doesn’t cost the church anything to put up an audio file. And a lot of times you want to send the sermon to a friend, who will NOT want to pay for it.

3. Every church should be doing newsletters, whether its putting them online in a pdf format, or making your own html newsletters that are sent out to everyone subscribed.

4. Staff page, beliefs page, and direction pages get a lot of traffic. Make SURE those are always there, easily findable, and up to date. Best idea is to have pictures of your staff on the staff page. Visitors to your site like to see faces. You want to make that personal connection.

5. Forums do not seem to be popular on most church sites. Either the church is not promoting them or people are too busy to use them, in general. And with the multitude of christian forums that already exist, it’s hard to make yours really stand out. If you are going to do forums, you really need to promote them. And you also need at least 1 or 2 people willing to start a conversation on them all the time.

6. NO FLASH INTROS…. only use a flash animation that’s embedded into the homepage. So much has been written online about this so I won’t get into it here, but trust me, flash intros are deadly to your site :-)

7. If you can find a graphic designer in your church who is descent, I would use the main banner section of your website to highlight upcoming events (www.southpointcc.com and www.citybiblechurch.org are 2 examples), instead of using it for a flash animation that will play the same thing all the time.

8. Make sure you highlight a visitor section on your frontpage somehow. I like what southpoint did (my home church) where you see a big visitor information button on the front page. You click it, and it takes you to a page that logically explains what a visitor should do and expect, with pictures. Then at the bottom, there is a link to the visitor FAQ page in case they have any more questions.

9. The flow of your site is VERY important and most church sites do NOT have it. Unfortunately, a lot of the ones I’ve built don’t either and it’s something I’ve really been struggling with. When people come to a site, you want them to follow a logical path instead of everything on the site being disconnected.

For example, that visitors page I was just talking about. Notice how great the flow is on that page? And that if the user has questions after that explanation you just gave them, there is a link right at the bottom for them to click on, instead of them having to go to the top of the page, and find the faq link in the menu. The less thinking a user has to do on your site, the better.

I’m still trying to think of ways to make a church website have a natural flow and have every piece of content be easily accessible from the front… but I have yet to figure this out without making the frontpage really busy.

10. Darn it all! I wasn’t smart enough to come up with 10. Oh well, its now a top 9 list :-)


This entry was posted on Friday, November 10th, 2006 at 12:26 pm and is filed under Church Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
 

13 Responses to “Church Web Design Tips”

  1. Sam Says:

    What would you estimate monthly bandwidth requirements to be for the audio side of things?

  2. Mike Says:

    I don’t think I’ve EVER had a church that does online audio to ever exceed 5GB of bandwidth a month. Of course, if you have a huge church, it might end up being more, but for the average church, its around 5GB at the most of monthly bandwidth usage.

  3. Clay Wright Says:

    Hi Mike:
    Just out of curiosity I wanted to know why you are not taking any more clients? It seems you are really successful and just wanted to know why you wouldn’t want to continue at this time.

  4. Mike Says:

    Hey clay, thanks for question. If you read my about me page, you’ll see towards the end a little summary about why I stopped for now :-)  Basically I just got burnt out from the flood of work I got and it started affecting my relationships with people and God. And ultimately, and OBVIOUSLY, people and God are WAY more important than work, even if the work is helping the kingdom somehow.

  5. Lee Says:

    Hey Mike I just wanted to know what would be a good wysiwyg text editor to use?

  6. Mike Says:

    I personally like wysiwygpro but it all depends on what CMS you are using and how it works with that particular CMS (content management system). Each one has their own strength but wysiwygpro lets you upload files, graphics, and link to pages really easily all within the editor.

  7. Lee Says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for the response. I have an in depth web development question I would like to ask you. Is there an email address I can contact you on? I know you’re a busy guy so I would understand if you don’t have the time. But, if you can, you can respond to me at leevantglass@gmail.com. Thanks!!

  8. Corian Starr Says:

    Hi Mike. I was wondering what system or software you used to take orders online, process payments, and handle recurring billing?

  9. Mike Says:

    I use clientexec. I haven’t used any others so I can’t speak for them but clientexec offers me everything I need and works great with my merchant account through authorize.net.

  10. Sean Says:

    I am trying to design a website for my youth ministry and I am using Joomla(novice user) as a CMS. I see that you have alot of images as links in your designs. I wanted to know how you are linking them with joomla and how are you getting them to open in the main content area. On the Index page I see that there is information in those modules then you open to a new page with out thoses modules there. Can you explain how you are doing this. I love your design work it is very clean and make a very good presentation.

  11. Brendon Swanson Says:

    I, too have a question if you’d be so kind as to respond. Click on my name or use this address to get in touch, please:

    brendonms (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Jarred Harris Says:

    I was wondering where I could find good “people” images to use in a flash banner for my church site. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

  13. ChurchWebGuy Says:

    This is actually a very good post. Thanks for identifying the most important aspects of church web design

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