Web or not?

faq question markThe range of the cost of a website these days is vast. So, how much should you spend? I often see churches spend way too little or much more than they need. So, how do you decide what you should spend? Obviously, there are some financial constraints/budgets that each church has so check with your treasurer.  However, just because you may have been budgeted for a large amount does not mean you need to spend it all.

First you need to ask the question: “Do we need a website?” <gasp> “Did he just say that? Doesn’t everyone need a website?” Not necessarily. There I said it! Designers around the globe are probably drafting their hate mail now. I often see church websites that do not fit the church to which they belong. A huge, state of the art, corporate style website for a small, rural congregation of 20 to 80 people does not best represent your church. Also, many are often so poorly done that they actually send a negative message. If your site looks like it stepped out of the 90’s then send it back there. I also see churches in poor or older communities where the potential audience could care less about a website. Some churches could save the money spent on an elaborate site and focus it on more important things in their communities.

If you have determined that you need a website and you are not fortunate enough to have a “web person” on staff or a volunteer in your church, there are thousands of design companies out there that can do a great job on a site for you. Just run a Google search on “church website design” and take your pick.

However, there are also many inexpensive, easy to maintain, alternatives to a “traditional website” available out there.

A Facebook Page is a great, free, and easy way to get yourself on-line. The tutorials available are fairly easy to follow and Facebook is increasing the flexibility in their design all the time. HERE is a great example of how Granger Community Church has set up a “Welcome” tab for their Facebook page.

WordPress is typically used as a blog platform but now offers wider design choices. You can set up a simple but professional looking site for free with very little design experience needed. I have customized my own WordPress blog HERE. I am also working on a few other sites in WordPress for some other organizations.

Other free DIY options include WIX, WEBS, even Google to name just a few.

So, you don’t need to spend a fortune and you don’t necessarily need a big, elaborate site. So, before you pull the trigger- sit down and consider your needs, your wants, and your options.

What are some ways you have found to save money and still be effective on the internet?

Christ follower, husband, father, bald guy, church communications director, massage therapist, Jesus freak, wanna be writer... Twitter: @rickphillips

6 Responses to “Web or not?”

  1. PaulSteinbrueck Jul 25, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Hey Rick, thanks for writing today's post. I think for a lot of organizations a website is less important than it used to be, however, I'm not at the point where I'd say any organization can do without a website for one big reason – search engines. Most people start their search for a church (or pretty much any other kind of organization) on Google. You can't optimize a Facebook page for search engines. So, if you want people to find your organization in search engines, a website is still key.

    Oh, and another free/inexpensive DIY website option is… http://ourchurch.com :)

    • Rick Phillips Jul 26, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      I see your point Paul but you can also make sure your organizations information is updated with Google as well as the other major search engines and still appear in generalized searches that way.

  2. I still maintain that the church Website is not only the hub of all of the communications efforts, it serves many purposes that cannot be served elsewhere. At least not without lots of third-party widgets and a fat roll of duck tape.

    Here are a few things that really belong on the church's Website:

    - forms for leadership applications, volunteer signups, surveys, etc.
    - online giving
    - integration with the church database platform (ACS, Fellowship One, Shelby, etc.)
    - sermon archives
    - calendar of events, with online registration

    I'm sure you can take a list like that and find tools online to fulfill each of them. But why? Is there a problem with having all of those capabilities (and many more) under one umbrella, where the staff can manage them all?

    Definitely integrate with the best-of-breed services for social networking, live streaming, blogging, etc. But let your church Website do the heavy lifting and your online ministry efforts willb e the most effective.

    We talk about these issues and more over at http://www.churchwebsites.org. Thanks for the great work you guys are doing here on this site!

    • Rick Phillips Jul 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      I agree Brad, but only if your community has internet users in it, and some rural or poor communities still are not there yet. Our church uses our website in the ways you mentioned as well as using http://onthecity.org for inter-church communications. But often we find it a challenge to get our people to engage on or sometimes even simply go to the site. We do however, continue to drive our communications in that direction as it is ultimately the best way we have available now. Thanks for the comment I'll be sure to check out churchwebsite.org.

  3. Hi this is Chad of http://getyourchurchfanpage.com/fm , One of the biggest factor for small churches is bang for buck.. Websites are very valuable BUT a smaller church will spend (alot) of money and time, these type of churches will be short on both. With Facebook as a primary webpage, a small church will get INSTANT response and often better interaction because of how tight nit the smaller churches are.

    So for these three reasons, smaller churches really should start on Facebook.

    1. Cheaper,

    2. less time intensive,

    3 Higher readership (by far!)

    Most smaller churches can do everything they need to right on Facebook. But the MOST important thing Facebook provides that websites can't is EASY outreach to the surrounding online community. When a person Like, comments or shares – EVERYONE on their list has the potential to see that action.

    Since most people have 300+ friends, 5 actions translates into 1500 potential outreaches. For this reason, small churches should invest on Facebook first and then consider a website down the road.

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