Helpful Website Hints
Hint #1 – Decide On Your Mission
While the WWW has definite advantages over other communications media, it still requires that you have a clear understanding of your reasons for placing this material on the web. Web pages for a church can have one or more purposes but you need to be clear as to what they are before you begin designing your website. Specifically, do you want this to be a tool for outreach or community building? Do you see your audience as primarily churched or unchurched persons?
Hint #2 – Determine Your Resources
You will need to determine your technical, financial and human resources. Websites are worthless if they are not dynamic, growing, and current. This is the single most neglected aspect of planning for these sites. Many churches will spend hours developing a nicely designed website, entering the basic information, and then forget that someone has to keep the site updated and current. To a person looking for a growing, and well administered congregation, an outdated website is a clear statement to the contrary. Members who try to use the website for checking on the church calendar will immediately stop going to the site if the calendar is outdated or incorrect. It is better to forego the whole idea than to put up a website that cannot be maintained.
The maintainence of a website is a time-consuming proposition and is best handled by a team of volunteers rather than a single person. Many churches depend on a student or other single volunteer only to find their website neglected when the person moves or is otherwise unable to maintain the site.
Financial considerations include decisions about hardware, web hosting services, ISP’s and domain name registration. While it is possible to develop a website from home, the church office needs to be online so the site can be observed and, if necessary, maintain the website from the office. In general monthy costs can range from nothing to $50.00 or so. Like most things, however, you get what you pay for. FOR SUGGESTED WEB HOST SERVICE COMPANIES, CLICK HERE.
Human considerations include the gifts that can be found in the congregation and or the need to pay for design services. The more skilled in the development of web pages that your human resources are the more likely you will want to take full advantage of the possibilities inherent in the WWW. The server or web hosting service required will cost more money but your website can become one of the most valuable resources available to your congregation and community.
Hint #3 – Observe What Others Have Done
There are many American Baptist Churches that have listed their websites on our directory. They provide a valuable resource for ideas on both how to and how not to build a church website. Most have e-mail addresses to their webmasters who are happy to discuss their site and give advice to those who are building their own.
Hint #4 – Start Modestly
It’s better to have a site that has room to grow and works, rather than to have a site that is very elaborate and does not work properly or easily.
Hint #5 – Take it easy on the “bells and whistles”
Studies show that if a website takes longer to load than 15 seconds on a 58K modem, the view is very likely to stop the download and move on to another site. Make sure your graphics are at the low resolution of 72dpi and are in the RGB mode. Anything of a higher resolution is a waste because video monitors display graphics at 72 dpi and anything higher simply takes longer to download and does not add to clarity of picture. Animations, flash displays, music, and other “bells and whistles” all add to download time and if you don’t have a good reason to use them, don’t.
Also remember that while it is possible to add music to your website, you are still bound by copyright law and may not use copyrighted material on your website without permission. The popular CCLI license does NOT cover use on websites.
Hint #6 – Location, Location, Location!
Remember your webite is likely to be viewed by people all over the world who may not know that Oshkosh is in Wisconsin. Make sure you indicate your church location clearly on your initial homepage. Include complete address, phone number and other contact information.
Send your questions, recommendations, or suggestions for this page to firstname.lastname@example.org.