The internet has transformed the way we communicate and most organisations recognise the importance of having a website to be their window on the world.
A web search is often the first thing people seek when they want to find out about an organisation, so it can be especially beneficial to have a parish website. A website gives you a cheap and flexible way to tell people about what you are doing. Building a website seems daunting but here are some pointers to help you get started.
Still too off putting?
Hosting and domain names: The first thing you need to do is think about where the website will be hosted. Every website needs to be on a service provider or hosting company - a computer server linked to the world wide web. You will usually need to pay an annual fee - shop around to find out what gives you the best deal for your needs. Once you've done that you need a domain name - an address for the site. This needs to be unique and logical - something simple and easy to remember - so that people using the internet can find you church website.
Website content: Keep it simple. You want to have basic information on your site - Who you are, where you meet, how you can be contacted, the different services and activites you are involved in. You may also want to add latest news and details about your church history. Remember that you need to keep the site updated so don't be too ambitious at first. You can always add to your site as you go along. The best idea is to keep it simple and short. too much information can be off-putting.
Good design makes a good website: Make it simple, logical and consistent. Remember the three click rule - the aim is that visitors should be able to find what they want in three clicks. If you make your site attractive with colours, pictures and good design people will want to visit.
Use an expert: You may have someone in your church who is interested in websites. If that's the case you can use their skills. But remember the information on the site reflects the church and the church should own the content - more than one person should be able to access the site.
Don't be afraid of the web but do be sensible: Anything you put on a site can be viewed by anyone. Any writing must be copyright free and legal. Any images must be cleared of copyright. You must make sure you don't breach the Data Protection Act by disclosing personal information without permission - always ask people before you feature them on your website - if they are children, young people or vulnerable people then make sure that you have permission of their parents/carers.
Want more hints?
Ten top tips when writing for the web
Make your web site
Church website tips
The world's worst website - An example of how NOT to design a website.
Why not register with A Church Near You and set up a basic web presence.
Get seen on the Diocese of Liverpool website - if there is something going in at your church, let the Diocesan Communications Team know! We put events on our website or may even turn it into a story for the news pages!