church web design

The Best Church Websites: 10) Use Accessible Media Files

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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Audio and video can be great additions to a church website, but if they are in formats visitors can’t see or hear, the end result is a negative experience instead of a positive one.

4 Ways Audio and Video Help Your Church Live Out Its Mission Online

Before we get into the file format issues, let me start by saying I’m a huge proponent of using media on church websites. Here are 4 good examples of how it can help your church:

1) An intro video is a great way to share with visitors what your church is all about, including being able to see and hear your pastor, and see your facilities before they visit in person.

2) Sermons (video or audio) allow prospective visitors to hear messages from your pastor before they visit.  They also help members who are sick or out of town to hear a message they couldn’t be physically present for.

3) Videos of church events enable people to connect with what God is doing on missions trips, serving events and more.

4) Videos of members’ stories share how God has been at work in the people of your church. They inspire both potential visitors who want to be a part of what God is doing at your church and members who see the way God is using the time and resources they’ve donated.

The Media Plugin Problem

Problems arise when a church puts audio or video on their website using a file format that is proprietary. Some examples of proprietary media formats are Windows Media Audio (.wma), Windows Media Video (.wmv), Apple Quicktime video (.mov), Adobe Flash (.fla) and Shockwave (.swf).

If the person viewing the website is doing so using a web browser not developed by the company that owns the rights to the proprietary file format (e.g. .wmv using Microsoft’s Edge browser), they are not going to be able to play the media. There may be a plugin available, but plugins can be difficult to install on desktop computers, and mobile devices don’t support browser plugins.

In many cases, the website administrator doesn’t even realize file format is a problem if they use the web browser that supports that file format.

Use Non-Proprietary Media File Formats

The solution to this problem is simple: don’t use proprietary file formats!

Convert all your audio files to MP3 and all your video files to MP4. There are even free websites and free software that will convert from pretty much any other format to MP3 or MP4.

Another option for videos is to upload them to YouTube or Vimeo and embed the YouTube or Vimeo video in your website.

The bottom line…

If you’re going to put audio or video on your website, make sure it’s in a format people can see and hear – MP3/MP4.


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  • Are you using audio or video on your church website?  If so, for what purpose?
  • Have you made sure all the audio & video files on your site are in non-proprietary file formats?

Read other posts in this series…

9) Use Quality Images << The Best Church Websites >> That’s all folks!

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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.

1 Comment

  • Hi Paul, I think you have captured the essence of what a church website should be about. I also like the new design and layout. Nice Work.

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