Typically, the term “web designer” evokes images of caffeine-wired, bug-eyed, basement-dwelling, nerdy programmers zoned into a vast computer screen swarming with unintelligible code. That’s no ordinary human being. That’s a web designer. Unfortunately, web design has become legendary for its difficulty and complexity. The common thought is that it website maintenance is out of reach for the common people. But is it, really? What about the busy, bivocational pastor of a cashless rural church? Can he create a website? A good one?
Church Website Design for Pastors and Church Administrators
It’s too bad that the stereotype of web design makes it seem so high-and-mighty—reserved for a special class of people with some exclusive training, geeky lifestyle, or really strong coffee. While megachurches may be able to afford a high-dollar website design and may be able to hire a powerful web designer (with or without the bug-eyes), most churches are just trying to find out how to make their mortgage payments from week to week. Most normal pastors are concerned about trying to help a church member’s failing marriage, or making sure the Easter program goes off without too much embarrassment.
But maintain the church website?! LOL! ROTFL!! You gotta be kidding me!
Website design rarely registers on the radar as an important thing to do. And even if it did, budget shortages and schedule concerns quickly bump it off the list.
Obviously, we need a solution—one that overcomes the difficulties of code-heavy design, through-the-roof costs, and impossible updating…and the need to hire the bug-eyed dude. We maintain that a church website should have the following qualifications. This list of five qualifications should serve as a basic guide for making your assessment of a church website decision. A church website service that fits these criteria is a church website that is suitable for pastors and church administrators.
1. Updating the church website should be easy to learn and use.
Yeah, we’re serious. First, using the website should be easy to learn. Programmers go to school to learn programming code. Pastors go to school to learn how to study and preach God’s Word. Realistically, a pastor should not be expected to learn complex tools and processes for updating his website. In fact, assuming a pastor or administrator’s average intelligence and attention, we think that he or she should learn how to update a church website within the space of a 30-minute lesson, even without a caffeine-induced state of enhanced awareness.
Second, using the website after the initial training should be easy, too. Updating a website shouldn’t require opening a lot of different programs, accessing a lot of different websites, and jumping through a lot of technical hoops. Simple, straightforward, and easy updating should be expected from a church website.
2. Purchasing the church website should be inexpensive.
The most common and damaging feature of most church websites is the high cost. Somehow, churches think that the more money they spend, the better website they will get. This is only partially true. More often, website designers take advantage of the ignorance and/or gullibility of church administrators or pastors, and charge far too much for far too little. Today, church websites are not expensive. They shouldn’t be. Even though church websites are more useful than a church sign, they should cost only a fraction of the cost of a church sign.
3. The church website should be simple yet powerful.
A simple user interface is important for easily updating and maintaining a church website, yet there should be some access to the inner workings of the church website. In other words, most of what a pastor or administrator is doing on the website is updating content, adding new articles, etc. If necessary, however, they or someone else should be able to access the database, the design template, or another functional feature of the website. This is what we mean by powerful.
4. The church website design must be graphically excellent.
A good website is a well designed website, with eye-catching graphics, and a pleasing aesthetic. Since so many church websites fall into the category of “awful,” it’s important to shatter the church website stereotype and manifest a good testimony even in the area of website design. Since most pastors and/or administrators are not trained as graphic designers or web programmers, finding a church website service with predesigned templates (good ones) is your best choice.
A church website is a smart investment, but only if you make the right choice. Keep these four features in mind as you make your church website selection, and you’ll be in shape for choosing a top-notch church website—one that meets your needs as a pastor or church administrator.