A quick look at our portfolio will reveal that we build our fair share of church sites on WordPress. We’ve average about one per month these days… so we’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Here’s a quick inventory of essentials
1. Cover the basics on the homepage.
Your homepage is what your church sign or yellow page ad used to be. The vast majority of people who check out your church will first look you up online. With that in mind, I want the homepage to purely be for visitors. Does it communicate who we are and more importantly where we are?
2. Make it easy for the staff to update it.
When you boil it down, church websites are pretty simple. There are some static pages, there are some forms for contact, sign-ups, or giving, usually there is a blog of some sort, there’s a calendar, and there is a sermon archive/podcast.
But most important to remember? That there is a staff member who will be tasked with upkeep of this site who isn’t a web developer.
Gravity Forms ($39 per site)
What I like about Gravity Forms is that it’s super easy for the end-user to edit existing forms or create brand new ones. It’s all drag-n-drop via the dashboard. You can build-up Gravity Forms with add-ons to do all sorts of things from hosting surveys to event registration to taking donations. It’s a must-have for a church website using WordPress.
Custom Post Types – I use Toolset to create custom post types and templates. (Types is free, Views is $95, the full set is $149)
I use custom post types to create functionality for unique tasks. Things like a staff page or a sermon repository. But you could create a custom post type for all sorts of things you’d like to display that gets added to or edited over time. The reason you do this? It makes things easy and efficient for the staff member keeping the site updated.
For instance, this is how a new sermon gets added:
Events Calendar Pro - About half church sites just embed Google Calendar, the other half use ECP, a premium WordPress plugin. ($50 per site)
What I like about ECP is that it’s easy to set-up events for the site admin. And the public display can start as a list of events or a calendar before drilling down into individual events.
Picking ECP versus Google Calendars is really just a matter of the staff team. My advice is to use Google Calendars if your church is already using it. But both options allow people to add items to their Google Calendars, Outlook, or iCal.
Powerpress – For managing your podcast and media feeds. (free)
One of the most common features that churches can’t seem to figure out on their own is a podcast. Distributing sermons is something every church wants to do… and Powerpress makes it pretty simple by adding a form to the bottom of every post. It couldn’t get much easier… upload your MP3 via WordPress’s core media library and drop the link into the box.
3. Make it responsive. I make sure the website looks great on a mobile browser.
We all need to face the reality that about 50% of web visitors are viewing our site on either a mobile phone or a tablet. So, as of about a year ago, every one of our sites is built using responsive design. My goal is to make the site look great on whatever type of device you have. Using CSS, you can make a site respond to various screen sizes pretty easily. Yes, it’s extra hassle. But it’s totally worth it.
Questions? Leave us a comment?
Want us to build a site for your church? Contact us.