Quality Church Web Sites

Quality Church Web Sites
David Epstein


1. Why is it important that a church maintain a good, up-to-date web site?
A church is about many things including a “community”. A church website extends its brick community to the web where its members can further interact. In addition, for a church to grow, it must reach out to new prospects. The web is the first place new church seekers go to find their first or next church home. The church needs a professional website to catch the attention of these prospects as well as a web management/marketing system to turn the contacts/prospects into new members.

2. What does your company offer that would make it stand out from the others?
We are the only company who offers a complete website package for churches that includes all the important features that a church needs to have a professional and effective online presence. See #3 (Features) and #4 (CMS) below. In addition, we do it all for $19.95 with a 30-day free trial and month-month service.

3. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good church web site?
a. A basic but good-looking professional “Design” that doesn’t confuse the user. Once a user sees that a site design is professional and looks “paid for”, they are no longer concerned with design details. The use comes to the website for content (not artwork) and the faster and easier you get them to the content the better.

b. One “Menu” in one place as opposed to links and sub menus everywhere on the home page

c. Clear “Navigation which builds from “b” above.

d. “Home” page that takes the user where the website manager wants them to to.

e. “Contact Us” page with map, directions, full contact info, and a contact form to intake the user’s information.

f. “Join a Mailing List” form to build a prospect list.

g. “Church Calendar” page that is maintained up-to-date with links to the actual events on the website.

h. Information for new “Prospective Members” on why they should visit the church in person including a custom intake form for them to tell the church about their family and needs so someone can respond by telephone to tell them more about the church.

i. “About” the Staff with pictures.

j. “About the Church” to create a compelling reason on why a user should stay on the website and perhaps interact online or in person.

k. “Programs and Services” which can be several sections or pages depending on what services the church offers to the community.

l. “Online Giving” with an online form tied to a payment processor (for tax-free donations).

m. “Online Store” with an online form tied to a payment processor (to collect money online for anything besides tax-free donations such as products, registrations, etc.).

n. Archived “Newsletters” (and/or enewsletters).

o. Site “Search” so users can find what they need quickly. When users can’t find what they need quickly, they leave the website.

p. Online sermons in streaming audio and/or video.

q. More “Content” pages as it relates to the particular needs of the church and the community they serve.

r. Social media such as Blog, Discussion Forum, Photo Galleries, etc. to retain users on the website longer, and give them a reason to participate and return to the site many times in the future.

s. Database management so information from users who interact with all the forms (online donations//contact us/mailing list) is retained and can be managed through an online interface producing reports, edit capabilities and mass mailing.

t. Mass email service which ties into “s” above so the church can keep in touch with their members and prospects.

By the way, we offer everything above.

4. How can a church best keep their web site current, fresh, and up to date?

In my professional opinion, a website with a complete CMS (Content Management System) is the best solution for any church considering the lack of full-time staff and IT expertise. A CMS will allow the church to easily ass/edit content on existing web pages and add new pages to the site in seconds.
The above article, “Quality Church Websites,” is written by David Epstein. The article was excerpted from QualityChurchWebsites.com website, August 2005.

The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, the material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.