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Building a great church website


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Does your website still say ‘Coming Soon’ or ‘Under Construction’? Are you still promoting the Christmas Mass from 2008? In this session you’ll learn how to create a great website and more importantly how to maintain it and keep people coming back.

Published in: Spiritual, Technology
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Building a great church website

  1. 1. Building a Great Church Website Joe Luedtke Vice President, Liturgical Publications @cathtechtalk
  2. 2. Website Axiom• In Real Estate its “location, location, location”• On the Internet, we had one axiom, but may be developing a second: Its all about the Conversation!
  3. 3. Why You Need a Good Website• The next generation of parishioners are growing up online. Simple. End of discussion.• Internet searches are far more common than Yellow Page searches.• Your website is your online marketing tool.• If you don’t do it, others will try:,,,
  4. 4. Creating a Good Website• Pick a Content Management System (CMS) that’s simple to use.• Put someone in charge of it. You have a bulletin editor. Where’s your website editor?• Keep the content fresh. – Here’s a challenge for you! Don’t update your bulletin unless you update your website.• Start small. Just a few pages and then grow from there.
  5. 5. How to Create a Good Website• Absolutely no… • Under construction and outdated content is up to you, but tools like Google’s Webmaster toolset can help with 404 errors
  6. 6. Why You Need a Great Website• The Internet is moving from a Marketing and Informational Tool to an Engagement Tool.• Not only is the next generation of parishioners growing up online, they’re more comfortable engaging there too!• Your website is your online marketing tool but can also be a parishioner engagement tool. Our goal is to drive engagement online and into Mass.
  7. 7. Creating a Great Website• Start with… – Your Parish Mission and Vision. These will guide you along the way. – A Theme. Does your church already have a logo, taglines, color standards, or standard fonts that should be used? – A guide for voice and tone. Consistency helps.• Hire a professional or a volunteer, but make sure they’re up to the task. – Unfortunately, well intentioned volunteers are the number one cause of outdated and abandoned church websites.• Design first, then Build, and then Test. They’re all equally important.• Don’t forget to launch. Have a goal and stick to it. – It’s the web. You can keep changing and growing it.
  8. 8. The Website’s Foundation• Domain Name – Keep them short and memorable if possible – Consider .org, .com, or .net. If you can, get them all – Common Domain Registrars:, – You need to own the domain• Content Management System – WordPress is the easiest and most common do it yourself CMS – Joomla! And Drupal are affordable Open Source platforms – LPi’s website product, WeConnect, sites-social-networks/weconnect – Many customizable, template driven options exist for churches. Go to and look under resources.
  9. 9. Design• If you hire a professional, focus on the design. – Style Guide – Wireframes – Comps• If you buy a template-based system, focus on your sitemap. – A sitemap is your site’s table of contents. – Options: • •
  10. 10. Design Tips• Understand your audience or audiences – Is the site for parishioners or the public? – Design your home page for the general public• Less is more• Don’t go for the flash and splash. You’re here to serve not entering a beauty contest• Do, however, use photos and videos – But use them with purpose – Make them engaging and inviting
  11. 11. Content Navigation• People read print left to right, however, people read a website in a capital “C”: top, left, center• Primary navigation can be top or the left. Experiment with both• Navigation within the footers are now a best practice
  12. 12. Content Tips• Remember what makes a good website. You need to able to manage your content• If you’re website doesn’t change, why would anyone come back?• Less is more• No small print. You’re designing this site for all ages and all abilities• Are you a bilingual church? Then your websites needs to be too!• Don’t let your visitor get lost, open external links in a separate window
  13. 13. Content and Searching• Searching – Church’s are at a disadvantage with Google• Understand your keywords and then use them in your content. – “St. Bernard” returns in Google 23,000,000 results – “St. Bernard Wauwatosa” returns 19,000, but the church is in the #1 position – With “Catholic Church Wauwatosa” St. Bernard falls to #2. Why? • “St Joseph Parish is a welcoming Catholic…” • “The mission of St. Bernard Parish is to provide the people of God…” • Both sites call themselves a “parish” but people search for a “church”. St Bernard forgot to use the word “Catholic” prominently on their home page• If you plan on having lots of content, your site needs its own search function
  14. 14. Things on a Church’s Home Page
  15. 15. Generic Site Map• Home Page – Service Opportunities – Welcome (About Us) – Giving Opportunities • Mission – Your Faith – Who we are • Religious Education • Clergy • Adult Faith Formation • Staff listing • Readings • Contact • Homilies / Reflections • Directions / Map – News • Mass Times • Bulletin – Sacraments • Newsletter – Ministries • Blogs – Calendar of Events – School
  16. 16. Driving Engagement• Fresh, regularly updated content. It needs to start here• Blogs. Your priest often puts a letter in the bulletin why not online too? – And yes, allow for commenting• Facebook and Twitter feeds. Yes, but commit to them. They must be treated as extensions of your website• Email newsletters, the simplest most effective way to start online engagement• Forms• Event signups and online donations
  17. 17. Analytics• “You can’t manage, what you can’t measure”.• Google Analytics is wonderful and free tool. Leverage it. Its also fun!• What to measure: – Visits – Unique Visitors – Pages/Visit – “Contact Us” requests. – eGiving Signups – Form downloads• More on SEO, to-seo
  18. 18. What Not To Do• Attempt more than you can handle. Start with plan or start small.• Blogging, Facebook, Twitter? Yes, but only if you’re committed.• Skip the building. We’re not architectural buffs.• Pictures of people? Yes, absolutely, but only with their permission.• Flash? Use it sparingly. Remember it doesn’t work on some mobile devices!• No Popups and no special effects
  19. 19. What Not To Do• Music. Please don’t have any autoplay. Make them come to mass to hear the hymns.• Hit counters. Its no longer a common practice and initially can send the wrong message.• Busy backgrounds
  20. 20. Rate Your Website
  21. 21. Rate Your Website
  22. 22. Your Score Rate Your Website0 – 100 Points: Yikes… it’s probably time to create a “Web Committee” atyour church. Get together and discuss solutions that can make yourchurch website fully functional and beneficial to your overall mission.101 – 150 Points: You’ve got the basic framework for a working website,but there’s always room for improvement! Decide what’s working, what’snot, and assign tasks for web team members to carry out. Need somehelp? Advertise in the bulletin that you’re looking for volunteers to help getyour website up-to-date.151 – 250 Points: Nice job! You’ve got a great website, but don’t forget tokeep updating your content! Your site should keep your members up-to-date, as well as inform potential members or visitors about your faithcommunity.
  23. 23. Rate Your Website• So how did your website rate?• Anyone want to share their score?
  24. 24. Thank You Joe Luedtke Vice President, Liturgical Publications @cathtechtalk