Building a Parish website

A website is a very effective way to communicate what happens in your church to current members and also to others who may be looking join, get married,  baptised etc.

Choosing a website:
There are a number of companies that can set you up with a website, some are specifically geared towards creating websites specifically for churches.  The cost for a website usually costs somewhere in the region of £100 - £300 per year and is dependent on what type of features and functionality you are looking for. It’s not very much money when you consider what that will give you for a year – a way to distribute news and information about your church for a whole year.

Some examples include (without recommendation or endorsement)

Modern websites are built using a Content Management System (CMS). These types of website make it very easy for people to add and edit pages.

The 10 second test for reviewing your current website or planning a new one
Is your website easy to navigate? Attractive? Up to date? Has the right level of information? Easy to understand for people familiar and unfamiliar with the Church of England? Can people easily find essential information quickly?

Content is King:
Once you have your website in place, then next thing you’ll want to do is to populate it with content. Everyone gets quite excited at this bit and there is an eagerness to publish news and information all over the new website, filling every available space with words and photos.  Both hold on there, rushing into it can result in a website that is difficult for visitors to navigate and understand.

Take a while to pause and discuss how and who is going to update and maintain the website on an ongoing basis, not just in the initial first few days of the launch.  Keeping the website up-to-date will make it a useful resource and is key to encouraging people to visit it on a regular basis.

It’s important to include certain information that most people would want to see.  Such as:

  • The Address and location of the Church: 
    It seems so obvious but some church websites have been known to omit this information.
  • The Church’s denomination: 
    It a good idea to put this information on your Church website. Many don’t and people are left confused and unsure.
  • Contact Details:
    It’s sounds the most obvious thing to do but contact details are sometimes overlooked.
  • Who is the Vicar?
    Hard to believe but this is sometimes not included on a Church website.
  • Events, service times and opening times:
    An up-to-date events page will convey the message that you are active and open for visitors.

Describe your church:
Tell people what what your church is like. Is it ‘High’ or ‘Low’  church or somewhere in between. Does it cater for the young? Is it lively or otherwise. The key is to be truthful and not try to present your church as something that it is not. Different churches have different strengths and whilst it might be tempting to try and be all things to all people, the best outcome is for people to find a church that suits them, even though it might not be yours.

Access and Facilities:
It’s helpful to have a brief sentence to say if your building is partly or completely accessible for wheelchairs and has loos (or nearby facilities if not), as this can be one factor on deciding whether to attend for people with particular needs, e.g. a young family. If you have roomhire available,  also state this, with a contact for enquiries.

The Diocese of Chester runs an annual media training day which includes a one hour session on Church Websites. If you wish to attend, please see our events page for our next one. It is also announced in our eBulletin.