Developing a Church Website (Baby Step 1)

I’m going to create a series of posts on how to design a website for a church. I’m going to guide you on what you need to look at, and to proceed one step at a time.  A website is nothing more than a series of baby steps, and I’m going to walk you through it.  I’m not going to provide you with the exact steps in configuration or exactly what software to install. My goal is provide you with the information to plan, organize and finally implment a website.

Last year I was asked to help out on my church’s website.  I first want to say I think the world of the Webmaster that had started out the website, it was a solid website.  But it had several pitfalls that are common in these situations.

  • Only the webmaster could update the pages.
  • Content was static nothing changed without webmaster interaction.

These are really bad pitfalls, because it places everything on the webmaster to do.  In many cases, as our case was, we had 1 volunteer that was the webmaster, and it is difficult to keep a website up to date.

So when I was asked what was needed to be done to the website, I said a redesign. We needed something that could accomodate the following:

  • Dynamic Content – Some content should be able to change on it’s own. Not all content should have to be entered by someone in charge or the website.
  • Ease of Updates – New Content should be able to be generated easily and without the need for special software, to make those updates.
  • Push Information – Information should be able to be pushed to outside sources
  • Ease of Maintenance – Updates to software for secruity, or new features should be easy to perform.

How did we meet these needs? Drupal, is the package we picked, and decided to host it on Godaddy. I’m not going to begin to describe to you everything you can do with Drupal, as they have plenty of information on their website, if you want to learn more on it. Drupal provided us with the following features:

  • New Content created through a web browser.
  • Ability to pull content from RSS, Twitter, Facebook, and other sites as needed.
  • Updates easy to make, by FTP’ing the files to the server and then clicking on the update link.
  • Notification of available updates to installed modules.
  • Theme modules, allowing for easy changing of the design, and isolate design/display from data.
  • Administration is through web pages, allowing for easy maintenance.
  • Thousands of modules available to add new features.
  • User accounts, we could give user accounts to the church staff and members of the church giving them additional features.
  • Roles that allow us to give different people in the church different abilities on the website.
  • Security features to keep things secure.

You could also use Joomla, Community Server, or even WordPress. Now that we have the content management tool that provides us with the tools we need to develop our website.  What features do we want to implement on our church website:

  • Calendar – We need an events calendar, that people can check to see what is happening.  All events should go through the calendar.
  • Blog – A way for the ministers to communicate out to members of the church.
  • Announcements -  A page providing a list of the announcements for the church.  These should include announcing upcoming events, and information on how events transpired.

This is enough to start your website. So these are the main features you first want to implement on your website.  Let’s take a look at some of the behind the scenes things that must be configured.

  • Roles – You need to establish what are the roles that will exist in the website.  Minister, Administrator, Elder, Deacon, and Department Chairs. WebMaster should be special, they will have access to pretty much everything, as they are setting all of this up.  Administrator, should be the next highest authority person, think of this person as the Administrative Assistant at a small church.
  • Security – You need to protect your self from Bots, trying to create an account on your website.  Capcha’s are my recommendation.  Require a Capcha to be entered for creating an account.
  • Password Policy – Users should be able to reset their password via email.  Password strength should be moderate, at minimum.
  • Moderation – Will your site have a moderation system in place for content.  One or more users who are responable for reviewing content being posted to the website.

Now you need to decide what roles will have what ability to create content, what types of content. Decide on what roles are the “moderator” and who/what they will moderate.  These are very important steps.  These two steps will determine exactly what your content on your website will be.

I will be writing a series of posts discussing things to do, and consider on a website for a church over the next few posts.  I’m not here to tell you step by step how to do it, but I will provide you with a guide on what to consider and help point you in the direction, and point you in the direction of well documented tools to guide you.

  • Ghostprogrammer
  • I am known for being able to quickly decipher difficult problems to assist development teams in producing a solution. I have been called upon to be the Team Lead for multiple large-scale projects. I have a keen interest in learning new technologies, always ready for a new challenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: