Monday, February 9, 2009

Church Website Design: Launching a Successful Website

by Lynne Gabriel

As with all web design projects, there is much to consider and launching a successful one can take time. Here are some tips on launching your Church website successfully.

Decide what and when to launch. There are at least four different church website launching designs. Each having its own purpose: 1) The Coming Soon page - This is also sometimes called a splash page. It is a simple one page site that announces activities or events that will be happening involving the church. These are good when fliers or mailers have been issued with the church website address included. If this is the type of church web design you choose, make sure you include information such as a developers' update, a podcast or some type of countdown.

2) A Soft Launch - This is useful when designing your church website to get feedback from others. It is intended not to be announced except to a chosen few. After a few days, check back with these individuals to see what they think and if they have any other ideas. It also serves as a test for the church website for ones whom have sought out the site on their own.

3) Beta Launch - This is another type of soft launch. It allows people to seek it out while at the same time informing them that it is a work in progress. These are great additions to the already established church website design. They are usually used with online service or web application rather than a blogging site or organizational site for general information. However if you are looking for a church website design for a social network, small group finder, or other organization service to run parallel to a main site, then this would be what you are looking for.

4) A Hard Launch - Unlike the other 3 types we have discussed, this one should be considered the "unveiling" of your new church website. It should be fully tested, loaded with content and information and ready to be consumed by search engines, church leaders in the area and the general public.

The content of you church web design is as important as the type of site you launch. This would include pertinent information such as your street address, affiliation or denomination, phone numbers, office hours, service times including length and location, style of worship and any information about teaching or dress.

Make sure you check your church web design for browser compatibility. They should function correctly in major browsers and should be checked frequently during the development of the site. They should pass the test with each of the 6 major browsers: Internet Explorer 6 & 7, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome.

Get someone else to look over the church website design. After several weeks of a working on a website, the developer begins looking at it as a bunch of codes or just a style. A fresh pair of eyes will give you, as the developer, a new outlook on how the design is working. Try getting someone who has never seen the site before to take a look at it. You will be amazed at the information you can get from a new pair of eyes.

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