How to Find a Web Company for Your Church Website

How to Find a Web Company for Your Church Website

April 15, 2013 by

Here you are, finally with a budget and senior staff sign off on building your church a new website. How exciting!  Seriously, it probably took months, maybe years to get here. Now you need to start ironing out who you are going to use and how they will build the site of your dreams, in your budget and with your brand in mind.

Narrow Your Results
First off, know your budget. Do you have $2,000 to spend? or $10,000? These are vastly different site developers. Don’t kick the tires of the $10,000 companies hoping they will have a special price for you. You are wasting their time and yours. If the company doesn’t showcase their pricing front and center, or at least offer some sort of range, present your budget in the quote request. Let them know you have $4,000-$5,000 to spend. Or $500 to spend. If they can’t help you, hopefully they will let you know right away and point you in some other direction.

Check out the Church Marketing Sucks resources and ask around. The Church Marketing Lab is a great place to have conversations with other great church communication pros. Also look around. What other churches, non profits and business sites you like and who built them.

Look at the portfolios, but don’t stop there. All web developers put their best work up front, and some put work that is not the production piece. Google the company name, and see some of their other work. Keep in mind with both the good and the bad, most often the content is not their doing. So pink comic sans on the kids ministry graphic or the amazing 3D sermon series artwork are often the product of a site admin and church staff/volunteer.

Know Your Needs
Mobile responsive? Blogs? Sermon media grids? The more you know your content, styles and key deliverables, the better you can direct the proposal and the project. It’s so much easier to set all the constraints, needs and known facts upfront on the table for discussion. Surprises in construction of anything costs time and money.

Template or Custom?
Know which you need and want. For some, this may be a function of your budget. Not everyone needs to re-invent the wheel, but for me personally, I have never been to a church just like any other in brand, style, demographics or culture. So it’s tough to see a template with a dropped in brand being a great fit.

Who Will Manage the Site?
When it’s all done and live, who updates the content, images and podcasts? Someone with some basic web and Photoshop skills? or the church secretary who knows Word? This can help the web design company plan and coordinate the training and construction to make this a good fit.

Write a Brief
Outline all of the above items in a clear cut one page document. Share this with web companies as early in the process as you can. Albert Einstein once said If you can not explain it quickly, you don’t understand it well enough. Download a sample brief as well as a blank brief in PDF and a Word doc.

Review the Proposals
Hopefully your brief will keep the proposals in the same league, and you can compare apples to apples. Review upfront costs, as well as ongoing costs. Many companies will have monthly server costs. Often this is just hosting, say $15-$30 a month. But others may charge upwards of $100 a month.

Know Who Owns It
Do you own the site? or are you just borrowing it? I know some pretty big (but talented companies), that bill $2,000-8,000, in addition to $100+ a month, and the church is just leasing the site, with no access to the code or any ability to move the finished site to another host. This works for some people, but keep it in mind when comparing proposals.

What’s Your Experience?
Share! What did you do before hand and how did the results turn out? Share a link to your church site in the comments if you’re proud of it!

We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.

For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.

Post By:

Matt Adams

Matt Adams is a full-time web designer for factor1, a digital creative agency located in Tempe, Ariz. He and his wife have twin boys and spend more hours cycling than most sane people can imagine.
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8 Responses to “How to Find a Web Company for Your Church Website”

  • Jordan Gillman
    April 15, 2013

    Thanks for this article Matt. As a freelance Web Designer/Dev who works with a lot of church websites – I appreciate your suggestion to consider things like budget and requirement beforehand, and as well as writing a brief.

    My favourite clients are the ones who come with a clear understanding of what their needs are – so we can come up with a great solution to fill those needs.

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  • Tony Chimento
    April 22, 2013

    Our church recently switched to What you get for the price is ridiculous. (No I have no stake in this company.) OCS has saved us a bunch of money and is feature rich. Most churches are around the 100 to 200 person range with budget being a big factor. OCS is a great first step before spending big dollars on having all the bells and whistles. Being the web guy at our church, I find this site pretty easy to manage every aspect of our site. That’s not always an option with a full custom site. My two cents worth.

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  • Cale
    May 3, 2013

    This is a great article Matt. I am a part-owner of and we build websites for churches and also offer a Church website builder where a church can build their own site. A lot of times a church has not figured out all of the details you mentioned above before contacting someone to build their site. Luckily we try to be as flexible as possible and help them find exactly what they are looking for, but it’s always nice when they tell you exactly what they want. Keep up the great work!

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  • Steven Gliebe
    October 11, 2013

    Nice overview of what to consider before committing. Many churches have no idea what to ask and can get into some trouble.

    WordPress themes are an alternative to hiring a professional. The monthly cost will be $10 or $15/mo for basic hosting and the theme itself will be $40 – $80. The domain will be $15 and that’s about it. It’s a more do it yourself solution so there’s more responsibility but also more control and much less cost. You also get to see what you’re paying for beforehand. How often does a church fork over thousands of dollars and end up with a site they’re not happy with? It happens.

    WordPress added a Theme Customizer feature recently and some themes are taking advantage of it. With a good theme, you can change the background, colors, fonts, upload your logo, etc. to match branding, without any coding skills.

    There are perhaps 50 church WordPress themes out there now. I’ve been developing two of them full-time for more than a year now (which is reflective of the demand for a low cost, self-hosted solution). Recently we launched and are taking this to the next level (one theme now and more to follow soon).

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  • Jason
    November 18, 2013

    We went with a company called They are custom though and not templates, so you will end up paying more for that custom design and setup. We get compliments on our website all the time though. Mostly from people who either design sites or have some sort of working knowledge of them, I always hear how much they like our site. Customer support has been really responsive too.

    I was working with an advertiser a couple of weeks ago and needed to change something on the site so I changed it while we were meeting. He was already impressed, but when he saw how easy it was to make the change he really was amazed and wanted to know who designed it. I can’t vouch for any other church systems, as I haven’t tried them all, but so far, after 2 years, we are still happy with our choice.

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