The very first step in developing a new church website is thinking about the audience you want to reach and the message you want them to receive. Next, a church needs to decide what sort of ongoing resources they have available to maintain a website. Then, it is time to think about selecting a provider to help create, host and maintain your site. Providers vary greatly in price and service. From do it yourself to full design, from free setup to thousands of dollars in design fees, from free monthly hosting to a thousand dollars a month. Making a smart choice up front can save you time, money and frustration down the road.

Below is a partial list of companies we have some experience with. If your church is using one of these providers or if you are having a good experience with one listed, drop us a line and let us know.

Squarespace - www.squarespace.com
Squarespace wins the top spot from me for churches that have someone with a moderate level of technical expertise. You don't need to be a webmaster or a programmer. However, to get Squarespace working best, you need to be comfortable with computers. If your church needs a lot of features and flexibility, it is worth checking out Squarespace. I have built 2 complete websites on this platform and am working on the third. There are no upfront costs and monthly costs are $8, $18 or $26. Most churches could get away with $8. I have yet to encounter an application that required the $26 plan. You can check out the two sites designed by the Media Center staff on this platform here: theu.org and riotexas.org

Cloverwww.cloversites.com
Clover makes getting started exceptionally easy though it comes with an initial investment. For $1000 they will design your site for you. Once it is done, you pay only $20 a month for hosting. They have a very rich feature set allowing you to feature audio, video, calendars and even online giving. If you can afford the upfront cost, Clover is a great option.

Weebly - www.weebly.com
Weebly may take first place for cheap and easy. Weebly has a free plan and more advanced packages for $4, $8 or $25 a month. The $8 plan has more than enough features and power for most churches. Weebly's feature set is a little less robust than some of the more expensive providers, but most churches won't likely even notice. There are no upfront costs. The interface is very simple and intuitive. I put together a demo site in just a few minutes.

Share Faith - www.sharefaith.com
Share Faith is one of the more expensive options out there but still relatively reasonable at around $41 a month. The price gives you a lot of power and options. Like clover, Share Faith focuses on church websites and has customized content to that end. It is based on the WordPress platform. For the non-techies, you will never have to know what that means. For the technically inclined, the platform allows you to dig into to the platform for a little more flexibility. They offer some beautiful templates to get you started right away, a beautiful catalogue of graphics you can use and, they are one of the only ones I know to offer an app as part of the package. Their tutorials are also very helpful if you need help.

Need help? E-mail us: media@riotexas.org