Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that the process of developing a church website can be a daunting one. Below you will find a selection of questions we have been asked over the years, some of which we feel would be useful to include on an FAQ. We continue to welcome questions, even if you would like further information to the answers included below.
- Where do we start?
- When might we see results in our church?
- How much input do we have?
- Do we have to provide the content, or do you?
- We want to develop a website but don't know what we want.
- Can you provide support?
- Have you got a list of other websites you have developed?
- How much would it cost?
- What is involved?
- What type of websites do you build?
- How long would the project last?
- Can we view the webpage during the 'building' stage?
- What sort of customer service can we expect after implementation?
- What maintenance options do you provide?
- We are not sure how to obtain web content, can you help?
- How can I ensure that the search engines pick up the site?
- Do I need to provide all the photos and visual material?
- What are the benefits of having a blog site?
- How can a new website involve everyone in the church, not just those who are computer literate/interested in IT?
- How can a website be used on a regular basis to spread information?
- Is it possible for a church with only sufficient funding for a new website to run it themselves eventually?
- What do some of your other churches think of the process they go through: their highs and lows?
- Do you recommend the size of a group trying to organise the content within the church?
This depends on where your church is on its ‘online ministry’ journey. We can meet with you to discuss a platform for development. We will structure the support you require around your needs and expectations. During the first meeting we would challenge you to consider what you want your website to achieve, perhaps setting targets and objectives that are realistic and achievable.
Maybe you already have a website that you want to improve and develop – we can conduct an audit and discuss our findings with you. These findings can be a useful spring-board to deciding an effective path for your website’s development.
This depends on a number of variables, including how well the website is promoted within your local community. However, we often encourage churches to see their church as an ‘online church’ once the site is active and therefore we must look to how visitors to your site interact with your new material. Anyone who engages with content such as ‘prayer request’, ‘Pause for Thought’ or ‘online sermons’ are visitors who are engaging with the online teaching aspect of the website. Most of our churches experience ‘new faces’ during Sunday worship as a direct result of the website.
We take our lead from you – we do everything possible to ensure the leadership in your church is empowered to feel involved and engaged throughout the process. We have experience in bringing along congregations and most importantly giving them a sense of involvement and ownership of the soon-to-be launched website. This is one of the key successes from our highly adaptable support service, ensuring every church is given the maximum amount of guidance and support without removing you from the creative process.
The content is provided by the church; however we can assist in its creation with a range of options available. We do not believe it should be anyone other than members of the church community who develop content for a website – this ensures the site reflects a realistic view of who you are, this is not something we can do. We can provide frameworks and a structured series of consultation meetings that help you to create visitor-friendly website content.
This is very common – in fact most of our churches have a limited expectation of what a new website will include. Our service is unique in that it is based on years' worth of research and experience in developing websites exclusively for churches. Therefore we can offer advice and guidance based on our model of ‘best practice’ that continues to add value to all the churches we work with. Contact us today for a ‘no obligation’ discussion and let us introduce you to the wonders of online ministry and outreach.
We can offer a wide range of support, from simple advice to a guided package of 1-1 support. If you don’t know where to begin with your website project we are able to offer guidance and can give you documents that will help make the process a little easier. Our support is structured according to the needs of the church and so no two support service packages are the same – for a full outline of support services visit our ‘Support’ page for a full breakdown of how we can help you.
The Church Website Design Project is not a financially-driven organisation and exists exclusively to support all churches, regardless of their financial means. We have yet to fail in offering cost-effective solutions to all the churches we have worked with. Each website and the support that underpins it is crafted and structured to the individual needs of each church – therefore no two websites (or the support that is offered) are the same. Most of our design and support packages cost approximately 80% less than commercial web developers (figures based on research conducted in 2009).
We have created the '16 Step’ list that is available on our ‘Web Design’ page. This will introduce you to the steps we take from conception to completion.
We develop websites that support online mission and outreach; websites that aim to become a platform for teaching and learning, and, most importantly, websites that bridge the gap between church and community. Many of our websites have converted online visitors to actual visitors on a Sunday morning – these are the type of websites we build.
Our recommendation is to allow 6-9 months for the project, from the early stages of development right through to launch. We have found this to be the best timeframe, giving everyone involved the chance to learn and grow as the site is developed.
Yes. We use our own domains for this purpose. As the site is being developed we will notify you as each new page is added to the domain, giving you ‘real-time’ access to the site as it develops. Once the site is complete we will transfer the site ‘live’ to your own domain.
Our support doesn’t end at the launch of your site. Most of our churches require updating, this is something that we can do for a nominal fee to ensure your site is kept up-to-date. We also review your site on a regular basis and provide you with statistical reports based on its performance. After 6 months of your site being online, we conduct an audit to see how the site is working from both our perspective and yours.
Our ‘Webmaster Maintenance’ service is available to all churches for a nominal fee. This enables us to take control of your site as Webmaster, updating the site based on your exact needs. New pages are also included in this service, giving your church peace of mind should you wish to expand the website in the future.
We can help you with content generation. With our focused support services we can work with you on a personal level to create content for your website. We can work with individuals or small groups and we also offer workshops and seminars to engage the wider church community.
That will be our job. We craft each web page to be a ‘landing page’ for the major search engines. The pages are individually encoded with keyword-specific phrases, embedded in key elements of the source code, enabling Google to quickly analyse the suitability of your website. This process is part of Search Engine Optimisation, which includes a number of other processes. We will also submit your website to approximately 300 search engines and directories in order to maximise placement on the internet, therefore offering your site to a larger spread of online visitors.
The church needs to provide the material for the website; however we are able to provide full content support and offer free photography services as part of the website development. However, we encourage churches to photograph as many events as possible, enabling us to draw from a larger spread of images.
A blog (short for ‘web-log’) is a wonderful platform to encourage and foster discussion and communication within the church community and beyond. It can be moderated by one individual or many, it can draw in various groups that don’t ordinarily have chance to meet, such as bible study groups, cell/house groups, etc. It also provides people within your parish or local community to see what type of church you are and become part of the discussion. At its best, a blog can become a teaching and learning tool, something we feel all churches should consider.
We have a great deal of experience in involving whole congregations in the website development process, usually without talking about computers or the internet. It is important that people understand that a website for your church is only another extension of established forms of communication. When we consider the process of church communication, from stained glass windows, to the printing press, including modern-day devices such as radio, television and, now, computers, we soon see the internet as a natural progression.
Nobody should feel excluded from the web development process: sharing experiences, ideas and beliefs is the most central part of developing a website in a church context.
There are a wide range of features that can be incorporated, which can be added to on a weekly basis. These include, but are not exclusive to, the following:
- Sermons – both audio and text-based (or a combination of the two)
- Up and coming events
- News and recent events
- Newsletters / Magazines
- Pew sheets, including notices
- ‘Pause for Thought’ or ‘Thought for the Week’
- Photographs (especially of any recent events)
- Special services (extra information for various times of the year: Easter, Advent, Harvest, etc)
- Information on groups / service users
There are also the ‘static’ pages: those pages that never change but are still providing support for the community on a daily basis (such as information on Baptism, Weddings etc).
We are always happy to hand over the updating of the site to the church once the site has been launched; however it has been our experience that the knowledge and skills-set to update the site is often missing within most congregations. The nominal fee we charge for maintenance and updating the site on the church’s behalf is relatively minimal and offers peace of mind for the ongoing maintenance of the site for churches in this situation.
We feel it is important for the churches we have worked with to share their experiences with others. This is why we have invited a number of churches to contribute Case Studies which give a realistic impression of the processes involved in developing a church website. It also gives you an idea of how the support we provide translates to effective solutions.
We recommend that any groups that may be deciding the direction of the website development be kept to fewer than 4 people. However, this does not mean that larger groups cannot be consulted (especially as part of our Workshop services) – we feel it is essential that everyone is given the opportunity to provide thoughts and ideas. We often work in small groups with churches to help steer the content development and assist in establishing a suitable framework for communication via the new website, a framework that reflects the ethos and mission of the church.
Contact us for further assistance
We would be happy to discuss your requirements further and to help identify key objectives for your website project.
We are supported by full time and retired clergy and laity, many of whom have dedicated their time and energy to support churches across the UK develop better websites.