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6 Questions to Ask a Church Website Developer Before Hiring

questions to ask church website developer
Written by Mark Steinbrueck

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Continuing our Church Website Design Tips and Tools theme, one of the biggest decisions an organization has to make when considering church website design is which church website developer to hire.

One of the most important things to do when evaluating church website developers is make sure you’re asking good questions that will help you narrow down your options to the developer that’s best for your church.

I will talk about the 6 questions to ask a web developer before hiring them.

1.) Why they’re in business?

This may seem simple, but you would be surprised at how many individuals or organizations can’t answer this question. Simply, they haven’t thought about it. And if they haven’t really thought about it, it’s something to take into consideration because, often times, it means they’re just in business to make money.

It’s good to find a company or organization to build your website that has the same ideas and philosophies and goals that your organization does.

At OurChurch.Com, we’re here to help Christians achieve their mission and their goals on-line and we hope that we can do that for you.

2.) Are they an individual or a company? And do they do this full time?

I talk to a lot of people that come to me frustrated with their websites because they have either hired a one-man shop or gone with a friend that does it part time on the side, separate from what their full time job is. And their project either got put on hold or they can’t get a hold of the individual anymore. There’s nothing inherently wrong with going with an individual, however…

There are quite a few drawbacks to going with an individual over going with an organization.

  • If an individual gets busy with other work, you’re going to find that your project lags as well and there’s no one else to help get your project to completion.
  • If you’re not satisfied with the work, there’s no one to go to talk to about that issue or complaint that you might have.
  • If they get sick, if they move to Antarctica or get hit by a bus or, for whatever reason, they stop doing what they’re doing, then there’s no one to step in and complete the project for you. Or, if the project is already finished, there’s no one to go to to get help.

So that’s why it’s oftentimes better to go with an organization than an individual.

3.) What website platform are they using? And is it transferable?

There are basically two types of website platforms, either a desktop or a web-based. And then there’s proprietary and non-proprietary.

Desktop vs Web-based

With desktop based software, that means that you have to have the software on your computer or on your tablet to be able to make changes to the website. It is oftentimes limiting to having one individual maintain a website. Or if you have a web team, everyone that has access or is going to be maintaining the website has to have that software. So, oftentimes, it’s better to go with a web-based platform.

Proprietary vs Non-proprietary

Proprietary means that the company has complete rights and they own that software. So, if you were to want to move your organization’s website from their hosting to another host, you’re not able to do that.

It’s still good because you have something that’s web-based, so it means that anyone can maintain the site for you. So if yourself or other people in your web team need to access it from their smart phone or their tablet or their computer, when they’re on vacation or wherever, they’re able to do that. But it’s limiting in the fact that it is proprietary and you have to host with that company.

The best option is a web-based, non-proprietary platform. Web-based meaning that you can access it and maintain it from anywhere that you have internet access. But non-proprietary meaning that you can take it with you if you wanted to if that organization were either to go out of business or, for some reason, you wanted to move to another host.

4.) What are some of the other sites that they have developed?

Take a look at their portfolio and see what kind of websites that they develop. Granted, this will be a sampling of their best church website designs, but if you don’t see something that you like there, most likely, you’re not going to see something that you’re happy with or can live with for your own organization’s website.

5.) Once the site is up, how do we get support? Is it through phone? Is it e-mail? Or do they even offer support at all?

This is something that’s extremely important because the site building process is just the starting point.

It’s important to know how they’re going to provide support and if they provide support. Some companies only provide support via e-mail or via a help desk. Others provide support by phone, but have limited business hours when they provide support. Just make sure that the support they provide will work within your schedule and your preferred means of communication. Lastly,

6.) Can I have some references please?

Of course, once again, like their portfolio, these will probably be their best customers and the customers that will say the best things about them. However, even the best customers will sometimes provide an insider’s scoop to help you make the decision.

Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent. –Joe Sparano

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Comment and discuss… Which of these 6 questions do you think is most helpful when evaluating web developers? Are there other questions you would recommend asking?


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    About the author

    Mark Steinbrueck

    Mark Steinbrueck is President and Co-founder of OurChurch.Com. He is a member of Generations Christian Church, a husband and father of 3. He is a huge Cardinals baseball fan and bleeds Garnet and Gold.

    1 Comment

    • These are such great questions to consider asking. #1 I agree is so crucial, it is important to carry certain values, standards and a “why” so to speak for why you want to serve clients. I have found that a lot of people are just in it to make some money, thats it, and you really need a lot more than that at least if you’re planning on working with other quality clients. I have been through a couple of developers initially until I landed on a solid gal to manage my business website. I think if you’re in it for a quick buck and lack integrity, honour and other important qualities, you’ll only acquire the same level of clients that end up hiring you. Great tips Mark, I’m definitely going to share this with my pastor.