A website is one of the best ways to expand your church’s reach, bring in new members and minister to people all over the world.
Of course, the first step is to choose the right church web design company. It’s well worth taking your time to compare your options before deciding.
With the right design company, you’ll be able to build an engaging website that keeps visitors coming back time and time again.
Why You Can’t Just Have Any Site
Your church needs a website, so why not just use a cheap website builder platform instead of hiring someone to do it? Unless you have an experienced web designer on your church staff, it would be like randomly asking one of your members to give a sermon during Christmas.
While it might get the job done, it won’t be good. Your church deserves a great site that’ll help you meet your goals. Communicate Jesus gathered some eye-opening statistics about website visitors that show that your design does matter, such as:
- Over 96% of churches fail the first impression test
- Visitors form their first impressions of a site in 50 milliseconds
- 94% of people said they’d mistrust a site due to design issues
- Sites need to deliver on a visitor’s needs within eight seconds
As you can see, your site’s visitors aren’t going to be impressed with a quick template, some stock photos and some contact details. Instead, they want to spend their valuable time on a high quality site. After all, if a church goes out of their way to build a truly engaging site, the church must care about reaching more people.
Is A Church Web Design Company Better
A common debate is whether you should choose a niche web design company or not. While it doesn’t matter in many cases, a church web design company actually is better for churches. At the very least, you should choose a company experienced with nonprofits.
Companies that mainly work with churches have a better understanding of your goals and needs already. They understand your unique audience and what type of designs appeal most to them. While you can get a good design with any reputable company, a niche church designer is what it takes to get a truly amazing design.
Why Cost Actually Does Matter
Most churches don’t have large budgets to spend on a website, but your site also serves as a major marketing tool. Plus, the original cost is one time and it’ll pay for itself over time.
As tempting as it might be to go with free or cheap options, please don’t! Yes, it sounds incredible to get a free site, using a free host. And yes, that is an option – if your site is just a page with contact details that you don’t want people to find easily.
WP Beginner lists 36 reasons why those free sites are a terrible idea. In fact, most of those reasons also apply to those too good to be true cheap web design companies. Some of the top reasons include:
- Slow page loading speeds (slow speeds turn visitors away)
- You don’t own your content
- Tons of hidden fees
- Limited bandwidth
- Limited storage
- Poor security
- A handful of design themes
- Usually not mobile-friendly
- No control over ads (typically just with free sites)
While you’ll save money at first, you’ll pay more in the long run as you lose out on visitors. Google will eventually rank your site lower as the bounce rate increases. Any chance of boosting online tithing is gone with the lack of security.
Instead, it’s to your advantage to pay more for a reputable church web design company. Cheap isn’t in your best interests. While you don’t have to pay exorbitant amounts, it’s worth paying more to get a site that you’re proud of and helps your church meet its goals.
Is It Easy To Manage Your Site
Once your site is built, it’s time to start uploading content. Depending on the platform your designer uses, this could be a pleasant experience or a nightmare. Before you hire anyone, check to see how easy it’ll be for your church staff to manage it.
After all, you don’t want to spend hours just trying to upload a single post or adding an image to a page. Ideally, you want a design company that uses a CMS, or content management system. This makes it easier to quickly upload content and make simple changes.
The most popular CMS is WordPress, which powers 32.9% of all websites and is used by 59.9% of all sites that use a CMS platform. However, there are other CMS options available.
What Features Are Included
Does the web design company include anything other than a basic design? A basic front page and a blog are great, but ideally, you’ll want other features too, such as:
- Video support
- Sermon library and archive
- Contact form
Of course, the features you need will vary, but those are just some of the basics that most churches need. Of course, you should ask about any extras, such as:
- Post-design site maintenance
- Upgrades (changes to your site as trends change)
- Support when you have questions
While some of these may cost extra, it’s nice to have those options to help maximize your site’s impact.
Is Pricing Transparent
One of the most important pieces of advice when choosing the right church web design company is to look for transparent pricing. Far too many designers sneak in hidden fees. For instance, simply calling for an update might cost you an extra $20.
When you are building a custom site, it is impossible for a church web desgin company to give you an exact cost without a detailed conversation. This would be like asking a custom home builder how much houses cost. It always depends on what you are looking for.
Instead, after an initial conversation, you should expect to receive a price range. This will help you get an idea of the kind of expense your church will be looking at.
Does The Company Have Much Experience
It’s fine to hire a brand new web designer, but you should get a discount on the project. Ideally, though, you want to hire a company that’s been around for a while. They’ve earned their reputation over time and have experience working on sites like yours.
You want a company that’s not just guessing at what works or building a site just like your competition. Instead, you want someone who already knows what does and doesn’t work so you get a better site, faster.
Is Their Reputation Clean Or Shady
When you’re researching a web design company, check their reputation. Ask for references to see how other clients feel about their services. Check out reviews online and with the BBB. Sometimes, just hearing about others’ experiences is enough to help you decide which designer is right for you.
Do They Work With You Or Not
You should be a part of the process. Even if you don’t know the first thing about web design, you should have input. If there’s an initial meeting and nothing else until the project is delivered, don’t hire that company. They’re likely just designing a cookie-cutter website.
They don’t want you involved because they already know what they’re going build and don’t care about your input. This isn’t what will help your church.
Will The Site Be Responsive
We’ve talked about responsive design in the past and even created an infographic to explain why it’s so important. However, it’s also important to take a look at how popular smartphones have become.
In 2017, 69% of Americans used a smartphone, 45% used a tablet and 47% used a desktop. It’s not enough to just have a desktop site anymore. However, it’s expensive to develop both a mobile and a desktop site. Instead, responsive sites automatically conform to the screen size for the best possible experience.
Only work with a web design company that provides responsive designs. It’ll help your site’s rank and make it more engaging for visitors on every device.
Does It Feel Like A Team Effort
When you pick the right church web design company, you should feel like you’re part of the team. You’re involved in every step. The team contacts you often to get your input on different design options, fonts, color schemes, your goals and more.
You should get to see mockups along the way to approve before anything is finalized. Instead of just being a customer, you’re asked for your opinions and needs. Plus, the company offers their ideas and if something can’t be done, explains why.
Do They Understand SEO
Not every web design company understands SEO. They’re great at making an aesthetically pleasing site, but not so much about making a site that ranks. Simple things, such as how an image is named, can make a difference.
Search Engine Watch states that “web design and SEO go hand in hand.” Things like image optimization, the site structure and a responsive design all help to boost your site’s rank even before you start adding content.
While your design company may not be able to help with SEO on the content side of things, poor SEO in the design may hurt even the strongest SEO efforts when it comes to your site’s content.
Of course, some web design companies also offer some SEO services to help market your site. It can be beneficial to utilize these services, especially when you’re trying to get your church’s site noticed after the initial launch.
What’s The Average Conversion Rate
How well do past websites convert for the client? For instance, if you’re dealing with a church web design company, how much have past sites helped other churches?
You do have to account for the church’s part in this as well. If a church never updates the content on their site, it’s not going to help nearly as much. For a church that uploads sermons and blog posts regularly, they’ll have higher conversion rates.
However, you want a design company that creates sites that naturally convert. This means they know where to place menus for better engagement or donation buttons to increase online tithing.
The placement of components, the color scheme
Will The Site Be Unique Or Cookie Cutter
You always want a unique site. The last thing you want is a church website that looks identical to a thousand other church sites. Cheap designers often use a handful of templates to quickly create sites. The sad thing is visitors do notice this and may distrust your site as a result.
It’s always important to take a look at prior clients’ sites to see how different they appear. While there will always be some similarities (after all, how many different places can you place a menu), they should all feel unique.
You want your church’s site to be a reflection of your church. When someone’s looking for a new church to call home, they don’t want more of the same. A unique site helps your church stand out immediately.
Is Any Training Or Support Included
The best church web design company doesn’t just pass off the finished product to you and leave you to figure everything out. Instead, there should be some type of training or support included in the price. For instance, if they use a CMS platform, they should tell you what they used and how to upload content.
It’s also important to have a support period. Glitches do happen and you want a design company that’s willing to fix those without charging you extra. If you make a mistake in the first few weeks or even months, you need a company you can call to ask what happened and how to fix it.
Having at least basic support and a warranty helps ensure you get the most from your church’s site. Reputable companies stand behind their product. If they do offer support, it’s a good indicator you’re dealing with a reputable company and it might be worth adding it to your shortlist of web design companies.
Are you ready to get your church online with a highly engaging, SEO optimized site? Contact us today to learn more about our experience designing church websites.