WEBSITE BASICS -- From Simple to Complex Websites
There are far too many church websites out there that are neglected or appear to be abandoned. Some look really great, some look very ambitious, perhaps contracted by a professional firm. The problem is that nobody is taking care of these sites. Far better to post a simple static (nothing changes) website. The members won't go there because there is nothing new, nothing different each time they visit. But there are a lot of people who will want to know who the pastor is, where the church is located, how to get there, what time the church services start and contact information such as a phone number and e-mail address.
Some ministers pastor two or more churches. One or more of these could be a small congregation where nobody has the ability to update a church website, especially such items as the calendar. So for these smaller churches, it is best to build a simple website that is maintance-free, and yet still accurate in communicating very useful basic information such as the location of the church and the times of the services. Even a simple one page website is more useful than no website, and could even be more useful than a larger website that obviously has grossly out-of-date information on it and cannot be relied upon.
Adventist Organizational Directory
Here is how the Stevenson Seventh-day Adventist Church appears in the Adventist Organizational Directory. If your church does not have a website, pretend you are a potential visitor from out-of-town. Use your favorite search engine (e.g. Google) and see if you are satisfied with what the search engine finds for you when looking for your church. If you are happy with the results, then perhaps your church does not even need to develop a static website. Postpone the website until the church is committed to keeping it up-to-date.
Add a Calendar
Back to the static website discussed earlier. It would be easy enough for me to add a link to a Calendar.doc file that a church member could update once a week/month. A calendar in Word document form is easy enough to create, maintain, and upload, and most people with a Mac or PC can open and read a Word file. Converting the file to PDF format is a bit more involved and probably not worth the hassle for such a simple website. Many of the church members will be checking out the calendar each week, so you may want to feature a couple of other Word documents that can be updated routinely.
There are some fancy looking website calendars available on the internet, and many of them don't cost anything. You can connect them up to your website without having to purchase a content management system. The reason I don't feature a fancy calendar on my website is that the church office is already doing a Word document calendar to fold into the printed bulletin each week. Expecting the church office to also maintain a website calendar would, in our case, be asking a bit too much. If your church office likes the idea, then go for it. Review the idea with those who will be doing the updates. They need to know what is involved before they approve the plan. I would much rather feature a simple up-to-date Word document than an out-of-date fancy calendar.
Content Management Systems
You would use a content management system if you want the church office to do all or most of the updates. The companies that develop content management systems use a large database and easy-to-use templates in order to keep the costs down. The content on the pages can be updated by the church office without having to know anything about website design or HTML. Many of the companies listed on the Service Providers page do feature content managed systems. The NetAdventist and Simple Updates site are worth checking out to get a better idea of the features and usability.
A More Complicated Website
A custom designed website can be built by a church member, a church member team or contracted to a website design person, team or company. New pages can be added and deleted. Popular features can grow further. The less popular and obsolete pages can be weeded out. Host an evangelistic series at your church, and you can build a web page or two to feature it.
To really get going with a website, to make it alive and popular, you will want to add additional content such as the pastor's sermons, photo pages, special stories and a whole lot more. The more dynamically changing and up-to-date the content, the more people will want to visit the web site more frequently, which tends to motivate the team to furnish even more up-to-date content.
Primary Author: David Buxton