church web design

The Best Church Websites… 10) Have Accessible Media Files

church website media
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 a visitor can’t play, the result is a frustrating, negative experience.

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

Before we jump 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) Sermon audio enables prospective visitors to hear messages before they visit, and it helps members who are sick or out of town to hear a message they otherwise would miss.

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

3) Videos of members’ stories honor God by telling how He 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.

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

The Media Plugin Problem

The problem, however, is when a church puts audio or video on their website using a file format that is proprietary. Some examples of proprietary format include Windows Media Audio (.wma), Windows Media Video (.wmv), Apple Quicktime video (.mov), Adobe Flash and Shockwave animations (.fla, .swf).

Unless the person viewing the website is doing so using a web browser made by the company that owns the rights to the proprietary file format (e.g. .wmv using Microsoft’s Edge browser), the person is not going to be able to play the file. In some cases, there may be a plugin available, but they 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 because they happen to be one of the rare visitors who playing the file in a 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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Comment & Discuss

  • Are you using audio and/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 the end of this blog series

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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.


    • Nice info. This is very impressive post, Very useful information, it clarified things a lot for us. Thanks for sharing valuable tips.

    • Using YouTube in in violation of your recommendation not to have advertisements on your website. It gets even worse sometimes. I finished looking at a video from a church that used YouTube after a short time another video started to play. I realize that these are chosen for you. I had been doing some research on gardening and it that is what played.

      • True – YouTube does show ads. That’s a big consideration when deciding where to host videos. I would consider that a violation of the recommendation not to have ads on your site though.