FAQ on Church Web Sites
(Website Content Management & Where to spend your money)
It is not a new concept to say that in today’s digital culture Churches and Christian ministries need to have a web presence to communicate effectively. But with all the technology out there to choose from and the increase in choices constantly on the horizon how does one choose? In this article two main areas will be addressed;
- What is a Web Site Content Management System, what do they do and, most importantly, does my church need one?
- Where should our church spend the majority of our already-limited Web budget?
Web site Content Management Systems:
Without getting “too” technical with terminology a Web Content Management System (WCM, WCMS or Web CMS) is content management system (CMS) software, implemented as a Web application, for creating and managing HTML content. It is used to manage and control a large, dynamic collection of Web material (HTML documents and their associated images). A WCMS facilitates content creation, content control, editing, and essential Web maintenance functions.
The software provides authoring (and other) tools designed to allow users with little knowledge of programming languages or markup languages to create and manage content with relative ease.
Web content management systems began to be formally developed as commercial software products in the mid 1990s. In the mid 2000s, the web content management market became a fragmented market as a plethora of new providers emerged to complement the traditional vendors both from Open Source and Proprietary positions.
Some systems combine the offline and online approaches. Some systems write out executable code (e.g. JSP, ASP, PHP, ColdFusion, or Perl pages) rather than just static HTML, so that the CMS itself does not need to be deployed on every Web server. Other hybrids operate in either an online or offline mode.
A few important things to consider in determining whether or not your church needs a WCMS is:
- Purpose & Goals of the site for your Church/Ministry
- Technical savvy of your staff in website coding ability
- Amount, Type, & Frequency of the content that will be on your site and the number of people involved in the content delivery process
- The “flashiness” used in the presentation of your site content
- How the content will be delivered (on site, remotely, or both)
There are a few more, however, this is a good starting point.
Where to spend the money:
Simply put, that is one tough question, to which, I don’t know if I have a clear answer or even if there is a “correct” answer available. Let me try to explain. The problem that most churches and ministries have is not that they are spending too much or too little on their Web Sites but rather not having a clearly defined goal and purpose for their Web Site. They may want to have everything technology has to offer but may not need or may rarely use a good portion of what they have. A church or ministry’s Web Site technology needs will depend primarily on what they are trying to accomplish with their Web Site not so much on the size and scope of their ministry. The best way to get the most distance out of every dollar spent on Web Site technology is to have a clear purpose and goal for what that Web Site will need to accomplish, then , cost it out and prioritize the necessary budgetary items for your technological needs list as well as the ongoing facilitation of that technology.
There is no one solution fits all magic bullet that will work. Having every bell & whistle will not bring more people to your site by itself. Each technology tool must be fed content that is relevant to the visitor. And, keep this in mind, each technology tool used on the Web Site takes resources to implement, remain current, and stay relevant to its visitors. Otherwise it becomes a resource draining useless dead weight that no one will use. I cannot definitively say that in order to have a successful church or ministry Web Site you will need to have this or that technology, however, one thing is certain, without a clear purpose and goal for your Web Site any financial road or technology will get you there, and it will be a costly one in one way or another.
Marketing Director, Elexio