Archive for Features

Church website ideas that need to be thought about.

Long download times

Websites filled with graphics may look appealing when you view them on your own computer, but when users access them they can take ages to download. Although more and more people are getting fast (broadband) Internet connections many people still use slow modems. Remember, most people won’t hang around on a slow website.

So, if you want people to find out more about your church then make sure that the website runs quickly. The best way to do this is to avoid too many graphics. Photos are fine, and they help to show who you are, but if you have lots then place them on a special “pictures” page so that people can choose whether or not to view them.

Special effects

Some ‘cool’ features of websites, such as day-glow flashing text, ‘hilarious’ whizzy animations or innovative menu systems, are just irritating. It has been shown that most visitors ignore all these special effects, and will leave your site if they can’t find what they want quickly.

Ugly site design

There is a common misconception that a ‘techie computer person’ or someone with a degree in computer science is the ideal person to make a church website. This is so often far from the truth. Making a good website requires a range of skills including artistic design, communications and technical abilities. In truth few people have all these, which is why there are so many truly ugly church websites. If you don’t have someone with a flair for artistic design to work alongside your technical people then you may come unstuck. Ugly site design can be solved by using a template-driven site development system (as long as they have a good range of templates and one suitable for your church).

Homebrew navigation systems

For some reason technical people often think it would be really clever to do something no one else has ever done before. Every once in a blue moon this new idea is fantastic, but more than likely the reason that it hasn’t been done is actually because it doesn’t work well.

Why make things complicated for your visitors by forcing them to work out how to use some unique menu system? A simple menu  is the best standard.

Getting the Most out of your Web Site

(Costs quoted are what you might expect pay to find if you do the website yourself)

Many churches and non-profit-organizations are hesitant to consider getting a website, because they are unsure of the costs they might incur. In fact, most businesses are surprised to find out how inexpensive a website can be, especially considering the amount of exposure involved. The exact price will depend on the size and complexity of the page and whether we use your graphics or ours, but let’s look at some of the factors involved:

Websites can reduce your print advertising costs, while reaching a much larger audience. If you take a smaller print ad, but point the ad to your website, the print ad can be not only much smaller, but more effective. This is because, unlike print advertising, nothing is in concrete – your website can be changed in moments to reflect current conditions.

The costs you can expect to incur in getting a website include the following:

Website Design costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of the site. The industrial average for webmasters is a flat $50/hour for actual computer time spent on design or maintenance. A good rule of thumb to estimate how much you should pay for a website that is static is about $100 per individual web page.

Virtual Domain Name Registration will cost from $10 to $35 per year, depending on length of contract and “niche” service used. This is the registration process which gives you sole usage of “yourcongregationname.com” and is recommended for the serious church, but not required. We have the unique opportunity to offer you “your congregationname.elca.us.”

Web Hosting Fees – Costs can range from “free” (not really) to hundreds of dollars per month. Most of our sites reside with servers that generally cost about $15-$20 per month with reasonable set up fees ($15-25).

Search Engine Submission – This is probably the most important service available. Search Engine Services range from about $20 to $40 a month. This service is provided by many standalone submission services and by many website designers as part of their website hosting package (at an additional charge). It is also important to note that some of the most popular search engines are now beginning to charge to be listed in their search engines.

Additional Features – If you want to make a web site more interactive, with feedback forms, connection to database driven information and the like, expect the costs to go up.

Maintenance – Site maintenance is critical once the site is built. If you develop a page and never update it, this can reflect poorly on your congregation or organization.

Contact us for more information on this topic. We can be contacted at leithrugia@msn.com and we are anxious to help every congregation and non-profit have a clean, neat and relevant website. We will work with every organization every budget. All of our websites are custom built.

Disclaimer: This page is designed to provide information only and is not a substitute for advice that is specific to your church or non-profit. Before acting on any of the information above it is important you seek further advice from a professional who has taken into consideration the nature and circumstances of your business.

Site Content and Features

What to Include: Site Content and Features

Here are some examples are for a congregational site, but they may be adapted for other agencies:

 

• The full name, location, mailing address and phone number for your congregation. Make this prominent on the home page and available or easily accessible through a “Contact Us” link on every page

• E-mail link to the pastor, or some responsible congregation staff member or leader, as well as the Web steward

• A link or button to the ELCA home page: http://www.elca.org

• Use dynamic content, such as the ELCA Web feeds, to place regularly changing news headlines, prayers, and bible verses on your site. This is fresh content, you don’t have to maintain! (http://www.elca.org/webfeeds/)

• Augsburg Fortress also provides instant Web page panels and RSS (content syndication) feeds, including a Bible Verse of the Day and Festivals and Commemorations at http://www.augsburgfortress.org/rss/

• Prominent, easy to read worship schedule

• A calendar or weekly event listing – a helpful reference for members and a window into congregational life for visitors

• Features that welcome visitors to the congregation (area map, driving directions, photo of the church, building map, frequently asked questions, nursery information, links to information about the community)

• Features that are evangelistic (devotional materials, prayer request section, messages connecting faith to daily life).

• Descriptions of your ministries with contact information for team leaders

• Staff and volunteer leader profiles and a description of whom to go to for what

• Congregational directory, in a password protected area

• Forms to collect data to support the congregational program and member needs: time and talent survey, professional services directory, Sunday school and vacation Bible school registration forms

• Audio or video clips of sermons or transcripts, previews of upcoming sermon topics.