Church Technology Reviews
Church Websites & Templates
Good church website design has now become a necessity, but many churches do not know where to start. You can look at a local design firm to make a custom website or you can buy a elementary template that you can just plop information into. Obviously, those two examples are the the extreme ends of the spectrum. One being very professional and expensive, and the other being tacky and cheap. So below is a spectrum of design for church websites.
General Templates (not recommended)
$10.00/mo – $26.00/mo
Larger companies as these tend to include hidden fees. Hidden fees include going over page limits, storage limits, domain fees, and limited promotional rates. Lastly, with many of the lower cost plans, the provider will allow their organization or other organizations to place advertisements on your website without a notification.
These providers are going to offer a large variety and high volume of different website templates. As general as a basic business template, to as detailed as a hot dog restaurant or pet shelter. They have the variety and volume, but for the most part all of the templates will have the same features and similar layouts, but just include different stock photos, page names, and colors.
Do it yourself maintenance and updates on general templates and with their content management systems are going to be the most simple and elementary of all website templates. There are two reasons behind this simplicity. One, being that the professionalization and customization of the website template is very limited. For example, with many of these templates you are stuck with the layout and placement. You may only be able to change out text, images, and colors. Two, being that the support with larger providers is very limited or non-existent at all. The larger provider are all about quantity over quality, and that is why they can offer lower rates.
General website templates are very basic and inexpensive. They are only recommended when a church is just starting out and has almost zero budget for online communications. However, because a church website is the new front door for new congregates, it is recommended to make a larger investment on a higher quality provider, because church growth depends on a good first impression.
Church Website Templates:
Ministry Designs, Clover Sites, Ekklesia 360, etc.
$500 set-up fee & $60/mo – $1000 set-up fee & $20/mo
These medium size providers are all market specific to Ministries and Nonprofits. Cost is increased due to market specific design, tools, and extensive support. The biggest thing to look for when choosing a church website template provider, is to look at start-up fee versus monthly hosting fee. Many times it is more beneficial to pay a larger set-up fee, because a larger monthly fee will quickly surpass a larger start up fee. Lastly, it is very important to be clear on what the payment plan includes. For example, storage, page, or e-mail limitations are all red flags. Make sure to look for the word “Unlimited” under the features sections, because with limitations comes hidden fees.
Church website template designs are specifically built to resemble ministry page layouts, and ]include ministry stock photos. You will not see any restaurant menus or business portfolios. If you find the right provider, you can even find church website templates with actual sample text that is not latin and is ministry related. This allows you to start with real direction and work efficiently to personalize your church website template. These providers also include ministry specific tools such as: sermon players, prayer request forms, google maps, calendar integration, online giving, etc.
Maintenance and updates with these providers are going to be simple, but also very powerful and personalize at the same time. Most of the website builders are built on a platform that does not require any coding experience and are all drag and drop. However, they also allow you to manipulate number of pages, page layout, tool integration, etc. Which will ultimately be more versatile to fit your specific church website vision. Lastly, it is important that you look for one of these providers that include free unlimited “hands on” training and support.
If we are using the analogy of the “three bears”, this option is “just right!” It provides church related designs that have the right tools and are easy enough to maintain while providing the ability to customize. Church Website Templates are the way to go when starting a new website for your ministry.
WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
Template Price: $50 – $200 (hosting or support not included)
Design Price: $1,000 – $20,000
These open source platforms are very powerful, but do not include the same amenities as a template provides. You are merely paying for the platform, and will have to pay a developer or designer to make the design of the website. Designers will charge anywhere from $50/hr to $300/hr. You are really paying for the powerful platform and professional design.
You can do almost anything you want with design with these systems. However, you need someone with extensive web design ability to create a finished product. You will also have to pay for tool plugins, as well as provide any stock images. Do It Yourself (DIY), does not really apply to this option.
Like mentioned before, web design and coding experience is necessary when making any changes on the platforms that these companies provide. Management will either come with a cost or a lot of hours from an experienced in-house designer. Server management is another issue to look out for. You are in charge of providing your own hosting provider, as well as manually updating your website builder anytime there are technological updates. This option is only recommended if you have an experienced in-house designer, or the budget to outsource management of the site.
This is definitely the premium option for church website design. It comes with a lot of costs and technological experience. It is very powerful and personalizable, but unless you really have the resources and need, it is NOT the number one recommended church website solution.