image of pillars from the Protestant Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow, Germany
image of pillars from the Protestant Church of the Redeemer in Sacrow, Germany
Image by 96dpi on Flickr

When you hire Five More Talents for a church website development project, we begin the process by asking you questions and listening to your answers. Your local congregation is unique. Our goal is to develop a website which reflects your specific mission, vision, calling, and personality. To achieve that goal, we need to get to know you first — which is one of the greatest privileges of our work.

So once you have decided to develop a new church website, we do two things: First, we give you a series of questionnaires to fill out. Second, we set up a project kick-off meeting, typically a phone teleconference. The questionnaires include a variety of important questions addressing all aspects of the website development project. Questions range from “What domain name(s) (if any) have been registered for the church?” to “What is the overall message you want your church website to convey to your target audience?”

Once we have received the completed questionnaires from you, we schedule the project kick-off meeting. In this meeting, we review your input on the questionnaires and clarify anything that is missing or unclear. We also provide you with access to the website development area, so that you can monitor the progress of your website throughout the duration of the project. Finally, we discuss the project timeline, which is usually at least four to six weeks. Above all, we strive to keep the lines of communication open throughout the project.

Here’s how the church website development process proceeds after the kick-off meeting:

Step One – Choose and customize a design.

You will get to select a design template from our extensive library. Based on your input in the questionnaires and the project kick-off meeting, we will provide you with two or three options. From there, you will select which design template you like the best. Then, based on your input, we customize the template for your church. The extent of customization depends on which service package you have chosen. Contact us for more details. However, we are able to customize all aspects of the site design: logo, color scheme, typography, and textures.

Step Two – Create or adapt content.

The content — text, images, and audio — is the core of your website. We begin by identifying the content you already have. Your existing content may include photos, sermon recordings, and text content such as vision statements and staff biographies. Once we have inventoried what you already have, it is easier to see what is still missing. Then we work with you to develop a plan for creating the desired content for your new church website. If desired, we can draft text for pages and provide stock photography ideas.

Step Three – Develop functionality.

“Functionality” means the more advanced features of the church website which engage website visitors. These features include sermon media libraries, upcoming events calendars, web forms, photo galleries, and “featured content” slideshows. The purpose of these components is not only to create a good first impression, but also to keep visitors coming back for more by providing them with useful tools. For example, sermon media libraries serve a dual purpose: First, they give prospective visitors a taste of the preaching. Second, they give regular attenders and members an opportunity to listen to a sermon they missed, or listen to a sermon again. Upcoming events calendars are particularly useful for churches with mid-week meetings or activities. These calendars can be closely integrated with Google Maps to make it easy for people to quickly identify “What? When? Where? How?”

Step Four – Fine tune usability.

Make sure the church website is easy-to-use on both the front-end and the administrative back-end. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to update your church website, and as easy as possible for users to navigate your website and find what they want. To accomplish this goal, we think carefully about things like page layouts, navigation menus, and placement of sidebar components. Workflows are also important. For example, if you ask us to put an event registration form on your church website, we test and examine the event registration process to ensure that it flows smoothly.

Step Five – Ensure findability.

Finally, we want to make sure that it is as easy as possible for people to find your church website if we are going to spend all that time and energy customizing the design, creating content, developing functionality, and fine-tuning usability. Otherwise, all that time and effort is wasted! Findability, which includes search engine optimization (SEO), is actually a key consideration throughout the development process:

  1. Design: Is the underlying HTML code friendly to search engines? Remember that search engines are text-based. All those beautiful images, colors, fonts, and textures in your design — they mean nothing to a search engine.
  2. Content: Text content is the heart of findability. Generally speaking, the more original text content you have on your website, the more likely it is to be found by people searching for matching keywords.
  3. Functionality: Great features are more likely to generate interest and buzz among website visitors, making it more likely to return to the website and to share it with their friends via social media sites such as Facebook.
  4. Usability: Page URLs, page titles, and site navigation systems influence the ease with which people are able to find your site via search engines.

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