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Choosing the Right Platform for Your Church Website

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

Yesterday we kicked off a new series titled, 9 Factors to Consider when Choosing a Church Web Hosting Company, with an introduction explaining What is Church Web Hosting?

In this post, we’ll look at the first factor to consider – platform

What is the platform for a church website?

The platform is the technical term for the system use to build a website.

While there are many website platforms to choose from, the first thing you have to decide before building a new website is how you want to build it. There are three approaches. These approaches apply for all organizations, but we’re going to focus here on church websites.

3 Ways to Build a New Church Website

1) Hire a professional church website developer to build a custom website

This approach is best if any of the following describes you:

  • You want a unique website, customized to your specifications
  • You kind of know what you want your website to look like and do, but you’d like a professional to guide you and make recommendations based on your church’s unique mission and culture.
  • You don’t know a lot about websites and don’t want to risk building a website yourself that might end up looking poor, giving visitors a poor user experience, or, having security issues.
  • You don’t have time to build a website yourself

Of course, since this option includes hiring a professional, it’s also the most expensive option, but as long as you select a good website developer, you are almost guaranteed to end up with a website that looks good, functions well, and doesn’t sidetrack you from all the other important work you have to do.

When it comes to web hosting, some website developers also provide web hosting, some have a partnership with another web hosting company, and others ask their clients to get a web hosting account on their own before development starts.

Because OurChurch.Com does both website development and hosting, we offer website packages that include both. This makes this simple and more affordable for our clients.

Tip: If you hire a web developer to build a custom site for your church, make sure you ask about web hosting before you sign a contract. If the developer offers web hosting, also ask if you can move your website to another web host if you should want to do that in the future

2) Purchase web hosting and build your own website from scratch.

This approach is best if the following describes you:

  • You are good at installing and configuring software
  • You have experience building websites
  • You have the desire to learn how to build websites and a lot of time to learn
  • There’s not enough money in the budget to hire a professional

Designing and building your own website from scratch can be the least expensive approach if you know what you’re doing. This has also gotten a lot easier since the early days when this required coding everything yourself in HTML. Today, a person can install a content management system like WordPress, install a free or inexpensive theme, and install dozens of plugins to get the functionality desired.

It is still rather time-consuming, though, and you’re on your own. Your web hosting company may provide support for a lot of things, but they are not going to help you fix problems with a website you built. Also, if you build your website from scratch, you are responsible for making all the updates and keeping it secure.

Tip: Don’t put your church at risk by making your church’s website the first website you ever build. Your church’s mission and communication is too important! Build a website for your family or a hobby first to work out the kinks and make sure you can do it well.

3) Use a DIY church website builder

This approach is best if any of the following describes you:

  • There’s not enough money in the budget to hire a professional
  • You have some technical aptitude, and are already familiar with a particular website builder or don’t mind learning a new tool
  • You have a good idea of what you want your website to look like and do
  • You’re ok with your church website looking similar to other church websites

Church website builders offer a powerful, affordable middle option between hiring a professional and building a website from scratch. The downside is they don’t offer as much flexibility and options with the design (theme) or functionality. But for most churches, a website builder allows them to do 95% of what they want, and that’s worth the time and cost savings.

Companies that have a DIY website builder service, include the website builder and the hosting together in one package. It’s worth noting, however, that you usually can’t move a website built with a web builder to another web hosting company. And some DIY website companies, don’t give full access to the web hosting account, so you may not get FTP access, be able to edit your .htaccess file, or get email accounts (sorry to get a bit technical there).

Tip: Decide first what your website absolutely must have (functionality and aesthetics). Because DIY web builders have limitations, research whether each web builder you’re considering meets each of those requirements.

Choosing a Church Website Platform

Once you decide which of these three approaches is best for your church, then you can look at the options within each approach – which church website developer to hire, which church web hosting service to use, or which DIY church website builder to use.

We here at OurChurch.Com work with churches who use all three approach:

  • We provide church website design services, including affordable packages that include hosting and don’t require thousands of dollars of design fees be paid up front.
  • We provide church web hosting for those who want to build their own website from scratch or transfer an existing website into a new hosting account.
  • Our WP-EZ church website builder enables you to create your own beautiful, power church websites quickly and at low cost.

Your church website is one of your most influential outreach tools. Invest in it accordingly. -Mark Steinbrueck

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Discussion

  • Which of these 3 approaches has your church used for its website?
  • What questions do you have about church website platforms?

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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