Church Website Designers: How to Find the Best Solution for Your Ministry
June 22, 2022
There are lots of ways to build a church website. You can try to do it yourself, hire a proprietary church website builder that runs on templates, add a full-time church website designer position to your staff team, or partner with a trusted team to handle the hard parts for you. None of these choices are necessarily bad, but it takes prayerful and careful planning to find the best church website designer that can meet your specific needs.
While we are not solely a church website design company, we do know a thing or two about website design for churches. Since the beginning of our business, we’ve created custom church websites for ministries across the United States and around the world.
We’ve built brand new church websites from the ground up, redesigned old ones, transformed templatized sites into unique expressions of in-real-life ministry, and more. You could say that we’ve seen it all over the years and now want to covey what we have learned with our readers. Our goal with this series is to equip future pastors, elders, and church communications directors with the information they need to land on the best choice for their ministries quickly.
Before diving in, did you know this post is one of a series of blog posts about church websites? Summer is the primary time for staff and volunteers to search for new church communications resources, so we are unpacking just about everything we know about designing a church website. If you missed the previous posts, you can check those out below:
- Church Website Design: How to Lay a Foundation for Success!
- Frustrated by Multi-Site Church Websites? These 5 Questions Will Help You Find Clarity
How to Select the Best Church Website Designer
As mentioned above, there are many ways to build a church website. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to accomplish the goal, but there are specific considerations you should pray through and discuss as a team to help you discern the best course of action based on your ministry needs and budget.
1. Define Your Goals
First, you must know what you hope to accomplish with your website. Some churches need a simple, mobile-friendly site optimized to direct traffic to their website and their front door, while others need multi-media integrations and more complex functionality. Some churches want to limit backend access to a small group of people, while others need to equip a volunteer army to keep the site updated and fresh.
We discussed this in our first church website design post, but to reiterate, here is a list of things you may (or may not) need your website to do.
- Be secure
- Clearly communicate your belief statement, purpose, mission, and vision
- Frontload the important info, e.g., service times, directions, and contact info
- Be fully responsive (mobile-friendly)
- Easy to navigate to ministry-specific info; e.g., kid and student ministry
- Maintain consistent visual branding
- Incorporate pictures of real people (not stock photos)
- Easy to find and register for events
- Link to sermon recordings, podcasts, and other relevant resources
- Integrate seamlessly with your people management and giving software, e.g., F1
- Easy for staff (or volunteers) to update
- Optimized for search engine optimization (SEO), especially local search.
- Incorporate links to your social media channels
2. Designate Your Budget
Once you’ve defined the goals for your website, you need to set a realistic budget. We know churches must invest their dollars wisely, so first consider if there are current staff members or volunteers within your congregation with skills and gifts to assist with this endeavor. Once you identify those roles, you will have a better idea of how much money will be needed to cover areas of website development that you cannot accomplish in-house.
Next, go over your website must-haves and earmark the ones that carry the most value to the ministry. For example, if church service livestreaming is a priority to your ministry, you should prioritize budget dollars for that service.
Now consider any technical integrations you may need. For example, many churches use third-party services to manage actions like online giving or event registrations. Those functions must integrate seamlessly with your website, so hiring someone with the coding expertise necessary to accomplish and maintain these integrations may be required.
3. Create an RFP
A website request for proposal, or website RFP, is a document that businesses use to solicit proposals from website design and development firms. The website RFP usually outlines the business’s website objectives, budget, timeline, and other requirements. It serves as a guideline for website design and development firms to prepare their proposals.
The website RFP process can be helpful for businesses in a few ways. It allows businesses to articulate their website goals clearly. This is also helpful to get everyone on the same page internally. The website RFP process can help businesses save time by requesting multiple proposals at once. This can be especially helpful if you are working with a tight deadline. Finally, the website RFP process can help businesses save money by getting firms to compete against each other for the business.
The website RFP process can be time-consuming, but finding the right website design and development partner for your church is worth the effort. For more details about website RFPs, check out this detailed blog post on how to write an RFP for website design.
4. Think Outside the Box
As we’ve said, there are many ways to build a church website, and there is no “right way” to do it. The best solution will hinge on your needs, goals, budget, and resources already available within your organization.
Many churches choose one of two paths: either DIY the website using a service such as Squarespace or Wix or contract with a proprietary church website builder or company that offers a variety of templates for individual use. In both of these instances, you avoid writinhttps://www.wix.comg an RFP and get a (seemingly) quick and easy website solution for your church.
While many churches choose this route, may we challenge the popular opinion with a very important question: Can these solutions meet your long-term needs?
What often happens is that a church decides to DIY the website and either bites off more than they can chew, or they experience growth and realize that the entry-level website they spent time creating no longer meets their needs. Thus leading those in charge to realize they spent time and money on a short-term solution that they outgrew quicker than expected.
Regarding template-driven church website companies, these are often reasonable solutions for churches and will include integration services and media libraries to meet the unique needs of churches. Things may go sideways when you want more customization that the template cannot support. Now you need someone with coding knowledge to upgrade your template to your unique specifications.
This is why we emphasize the RFP. This process forces your team to get on the same page internally and think through your short- and long-term goals to land on the best church website solution that can grow with you through the years.
The RFP process also alerts you to qualified and talented website designers in your area who are perfectly capable and willing to build a beautiful church website for you. Keep in mind that a website design company doesn’t need to have the word “church” in their name to qualify to build a website for your church. In fact, you may decide to support a local website designer or business to invest in the community where your church ministers.
5. Ask for Examples of Work
Before signing a contract, be sure to ask for examples of the website designer’s work. If the person or web design company you’re considering hasn’t designed websites for churches, ask for examples of nonprofit or small business websites of comparable size and revenue to evaluate their skills and abilities. Be sure to ask about media libraries, resources, and third-party integrations because that will be critical to your website’s ongoing success. Also, don’t forget about search engine optimization (SEO). It is especially critical that church websites are optimized for local serach and easily found for the keywords that are important to your ministry.
We Build Church Websites!
In case it wasn’t already clear 😉 we would love to speak with your church ministry team about your website needs and goals. If you have an RFP, we would be happy to review that as well. When you partner with us, you will work with a devoted team of web designers, developers, and project managers who are fully committed to seeing your vision become a reality.
Please send us a message to schedule a website development meeting! We will schedule a free consultation to discuss your needs and discover whether or not our team would be a good fit for your church. Let us know how we can help!