Church Web Development with WordPress pt.1

A few weeks ago we decided it was time to redesign our church website. That’s a big reason I haven’t posted much the last month. From getting the green light to launch was 3 weeks. One of those weeks was Thanksgiving which I took the week off to spend with family. And I have a budget of $0.00.

To guide my design, structure and back end decisions I needed some answers. I needed to know why we wanted to make these changes and what we expected the website to accomplish.

Our goals for the web design were:
– Create a place for people to go to to get information. Where can they find the news nuggets about the church and sub ministries?
– Expand experiences beyond an event. Some of the ideas are: videos and pictures from events, devotionals to expand upon sermons or small group teachings.
– Create connection points for people to get invovled
– We wanted the website to be more like a magazine with lots of departments publishing frequent content vs a static brochure.

So now that I had some direction of where we wanted the website to end up I began brainstorming. For me I used XMind (free mind mapping software) to eventually create a site map. What I did was put everything I wanted on the site down. Then I began to look for logical connections to create a logical flow to the website.

Next I grabbed a pen and paper and began to sketch out some ideas of what I wanted. Basically I wanted to header, horizontal nav bar, a large image area to cycle our current announcements and then below that to have another announcement area. For the sidebar I knew I wanted 3 graphic banners (children’s church, youth, and then a third for me to choose)

Now my web skills are not good enough to develop from scratch. I’m more of a tweak/ hack a template. So the next question for me was do I want to tweak a HTML template or try to figure out a CMS (content management system)? I’ve heard of people using Drupal or WordPress for their church sites.

With the goal of having multiple ministries publishing content, I didn’t want to become the bottle neck for getting content online. So I was leaning towards Drupal or WordPress. I’ve been familiar with WordPress from this blog (although I haven’t really tweaked it and it’s hosted on wordpress). WordPress has more templates and a larger developer base. So wordpress won out.

I then began my search for what template would get me closest to where I wanted to end up. I finally settled on this Revolution Church template from RevolutionTwo. If you read the small print it’s a free template but you can pay for their support modifying the template.

Here’s how our site turned out: www.graceoutreachcenter.org

It’s not finished. I still need to tweak the layout of our subministry pages. The staff page needs some love. And we’ve got some more pages to add.

In the next post I’ll talk about my process for tweaking the template and what I learned.

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December 15, 2008. Tags: , , . Web Development.

5 Comments

  1. Adam replied:

    Nice. Clean and easy to find stuff.

    I’ll wait off on giving ideas till it’s a bit more finished.

  2. Luke replied:

    Good Job Dave! I like the cleaness and simplicity you’ve got what you need, you can grow and it dosen’t look like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew which I’ve seen in a few church web designs latley…

  3. Dave replied:

    Thanks guys,
    Adam if you’ve got some ideas let me know. I’d rather get some input while it’s coming together instead of when it’s done and polished.

  4. Adam replied:

    Ok 🙂

    I might try to make the service times stand out a little more, move the Sunday services to the top of the list, & make the groups link back to the about pages.

    Lifelines needs a bit of expanding in the about section so I know what they are in general. Are they the same as the Life groups?

    I’d be tempted to break the “Connect in a group” section out of “Things to do”

    I might change the “Where we are” to ‘Where & When” that would give location info and a schedule or calendar

  5. New Website Design Needing Critique - The Church Media Community replied:

    […] as a CMS, I went about finding a template to tweak. I’m better at designing that mangling code. Here’s the process we went through if you’re interested. There are a lot of tweaks I’m going back through and cleaning up but I’d like some outside eyes to […]

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