When some people think about the web design process, they get nervous. Questions form in their mind like “will I understand what the web designers are talking about?” or “how long is this process going to take?” You might have an awesome church or ministry but have no idea how to get a website created so you can let others know about you.
This post is not about the actual process itself as each web designer will approach it a little differently. Today we want to reassure you that the process can be a pretty simple one for you as a church and give you some tips on how that can be accomplished.
The Web Design Process Does Not Need to be Complicated
We don’t want you to shy away from having a website designed because you think it’s too hard, expensive or won’t help. First of all, everyone expects a ministry or business today to have a website. That’s a given. And today, many are finding churches online. If you don’t have a site or a poor one, you are missing out on reaching those who may be a good fit for your church. So, you have two choices – you can make it yourself or have it designed for you. If you are somewhat technically inclined, you may do OK creating a website yourself. However, if that doesn’t describe you, you can save yourself a lot of frustration by hiring someone to do it for you. We talk to quite a few churches that have someone in the congregation design a site for the church. That’s fine as long as that person can create a professional looking website and has the time to continually keep the software and tools they use updated.
For now, let’s assume you have decided to hire a web design company to create your website. Now what? And how can this process be as simple as possible? We would like to share our experience with you and offer some solutions to make this go smoothly.
Many times we have held an initial meeting with a church (either in person or by phone) to discuss what style of website they want and color preferences among other things. At the time, they are so excited at the prospect of having a website designed for their church. We talk about what kind of pictures they will need to send us as well as other decisions they will have to make. It’s also normally decided at that meeting who will be the contact person for the project. We send them a recap of the meeting either that same day or the next so that they have a handy written form of what they need to do. But then something inevitably happens.
We don’t hear from them for a long time. We do our part and set up the basic design of the homepage. Then we wait – for pictures and answers to questions they need to reach a decision on. We very often will contact them again to remind them we are waiting for some things, and while they have good intentions to follow through, life happens and they get busy. The website is no longer the priority it was in that initial meeting. So, many times the website project drags on for months when the church could have easily had a new site up and running within a month of the first meeting.
The purpose of this post is not to complain, as we realize web design is not at the top of everyone’s “to do” list like it is for us:-) However, we would like to help you prepare so that the process goes along as smoothly and quickly as possible when it’s your church’s turn to have a new website designed.
Keep the Momentum Going
One way a church can continue producing enthusiasm to see this project through to completion is to have regular meetings among the team that is making the decisions. This should be explained when you are putting the team together who will be responsible for seeing this through – that there will be a time commitment and some meetings to attend. If people are already spread pretty thin with other commitments, they might not be the best choice for the team.
Assign Specific Roles
When putting together the web design team, consider what each person brings to the process. First of all, it’s not a good idea to have too large of a team. You want to have a workable number of people so that decisions can be easily reached and so you are not working with ten different schedules when trying to plan a meeting. The more people there are involved, the more different opinions you are likely to encounter and it makes it hard to reach a consensus.
Who should be on your team? We suggest:
- a leader of the church (the pastor if they are able)
- the church “photographer” – they need not be a professional photographer, but it might be someone who has a decent camera and really likes to capture pictures from church events, etc.
- someone who knows their way around a computer and regularly uses the web – they don’t need to be a “web designer” but it’s helpful to have someone who understands the workings of the web.
It’s important to assign roles to your team members as it will help you get things done as you go through this process. Here is a good article on the importance of establishing roles for a project.
Set Dates for Completing Tasks
We recommend that you set dates for the assigned tasks to be completed. Tasks may include gathering some pictures to send the web designers to use on the site, writing up content for the pages on the site and making decisions on certain items. If each task has a date next to it, it’s much more likely it will get done in a timely manner.
We previously mentioned writing content as one of the tasks to be done. This may or may not be the job of someone on the website team or it may be the responsibility of each of the heads of the ministries, etc. This will most likely be a multiple-person job. Determine who will be the best person (s) for the job and let them know your expectations of when you would like to receive their contribution of content.
Keep in Touch with your Web Designer
Let your web designer know where you stand with things and when they can expect to receive the information and pictures they have requested from you. Things will go much smoother if both sides knows what the other is working on and if there is continual communication. We try to be very responsive to our clients and hope they will be with us.
As we have said, the web design process doesn’t have to be daunting if we all work together and stay in touch.