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For years, the worship service was the front door of your church. The best way to connect people was to have them attend on a Sunday, then hope they liked the experience and want to know more.
The growth of a tech-conscious, research-minded population has changed that. The church website is the new digital front door of your church.
With 85 percent of people visiting online before they attend in person, you have an average of seven seconds to make an impression. Visitors are looking for clear, conscious, and organized information. They expect service times, location, worship style, children's programs, information about the pastor, church size, and more to be readily accessible.
So how can you create and maintain a website that embodies the personality of your church and doesn't break the bank?
The tendency with a church website is to treat it like an online version of your bulletin … post as much information as possible and let the reader sort it out.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.
Before you ever design a page, you need to answer:
Time and budget are the biggest challenges you will face as you build your website. Once you know what you want to include, prioritize your goals. If you can't afford to include something in your website immediately, don't give up on it. Consider making it part of a second phase or future budget year.
Don't underestimate the time required for upkeep and maintenance of your website. It requires technical knowledge to manage the site, forethought to work ahead, and people skills to track down information from ministry leaders.
You spend hours each week planning for Sunday and training volunteers to serve. You wouldn't dream of putting if off until the last minute or ignoring it for weeks. Your website requires the same type of intentional planning and focus.
You need to know:
The options abound for website creation, management, and upkeep. Based on your plan, priorities, and budget, you can pick a solution to match. Here are some alternatives to consider.
Custom designs are endlessly customizable based on your needs and ministry desires, and mobile integration is available. The price depends upon what technology you desire to incorporate.
Here are some customizable church templates with user support:
WordPress features theme-based template design. It's highly customizable and has mobile-friendly options. Functionality can be added in pieces based on your needs. A technically minded staff member or volunteer can design and maintain it for you. It is low cost to set up and manage.
As you plan your new website or contemplate updating your existing one, remember … this is your new front door. It is the way you will be viewed and remembered by a large percentage of your community.
Make certain it represents your church and the gospel in a way worth remembering.
Ryan Holck is a worship pastor turned graphic designer. He is the owner / designer at RAD-Ideas.com, where he combines his pastor's heart with the practical need for quality church graphics. Through freelance design, coaching, and his ready-to-use Open, Edit, Print resources, he strives to take the stress and frustration out of design in the church. For monthly resources, tutorials, and freebies from Ryan, sign up here.
Image 1: iirraa / CC BY-NC
Image 2: Ryan Holck
Our thanks to Lauren Hunter of ChurchTechToday for permission to reprint this piece. This article originally appeared on ChurchTechToday's website.