Choosing a church website designer can be a hard process. We've been in this industry for over 20 years consulting thousands of churches and ministries about their websites and technology needs. It seems that these days, anyone with a computer and a pirated version of Photoshop can pass themselves off as a website designer, even though they lack the basic skills necessary to help the church be successful.
We want to share a few tips for choosing the right church website designer for your organization. It is our prayer that this article will empower you to make smart choices and end up with a powerful web presence that goes beyond that many cookie-cutter sites we see out there.
Tip #1: Check Their Portfolio against Quality Websites
Because many church leaders don't have the design background to assess whether or not a designer has the right stuff, I recommend pitting the designer you are considering against a reputable library of industry-recognized work. We usually recommend websites like cssremix.com. Another gallery of great designs can be found at netministry.com. Comparing the work of the designer you are choosing will help to give you a feel of their experience and level of proficiency. Of course, if you are impressed with the designs you are comparing the designer to, why not just go with the company that designed what you already admire?
Tip #2: Know the Difference between a Designer, a Programmer, and a Developer
Many churches make the mistake of hiring IT people to design a website, or designers to develop their online presence. In the internet industry, knowing the difference between the roles that exist can save you months of frustration. Website designers create visual works of art - the template of your website and accompanying graphics. Website programmers create the technical processes under the hood of the designer to make things like online donations and sermon archives work. Website developers tend to dip into both fields, but specialize in architecting the way the systems will work. If you are looking for a pretty website, hire a designer. If you are looking for robust functionality, hire a programmer. If you are looking for integration into your ministry processes, hire a developer.
Tip #3: Build For Marketing
Building a website does you no good if no one ever visits it. Create your website with marketing in mind. Use keywords and phrases that people are searching for. Create a page for new visitors. Publish samples of your service. Tell people what to expect from your church so they can go to your website to "visit" before they actually visit. Immediately submit your website to the top search networks and start and e-mail newsletter. All of these things are essential for producing measurable results that will quantify your investment in building a church website.
By following these simple tips, your church can save tons of money, time, and effort while creating a web presence that helps you fulfill the mission God has called you to.