What makes a good church website

Note: This page was written some time ago, when I was still a Christian. I'm not any more, so it's likely that some material in here no longer reflects my current opinions.

This is a (lightly reformatted) Usenet article I posted to uk.religion.christian ages ago. Someone asked

What do UKRC members look for in a church website?

and I replied, at great length ...

Up-to-date information about

Other information that doesn't go out of date so quickly:

Also good to see:

And, of course, I like a site that indicates that the church is the sort of church I like. But since everyone has their own "sort of church [they] like", I shan't bother detailing that bit. :-)

I've been doing some work on the website my church has developed, and I'd like to start adding some functions to it, as it contains only static information pages at the moment.

I'm thinking of adding features such as:

  • a community forum or message board (for prayer requests, notices, discussions etc)
  • a 'prayer/reading of the day' section (if I can find a link for one)
  • a photo section with close-ups of interesting church features with accompanying text

Is this kind of site useful, or am I being too ambitious?

It sounds very good, but

It's rather offputting to look on a web page and see something like "NEW Daily News. Last updated 20th August, 1863". This is, more generally, a good reason to make the whole thing as low-maintenance as possible. Whoever takes the site over from you may not have as much enthusiasm as you have. (Nor may you, in six months' time.)

The "interesting church features" thing is good, because such things don't go out of date until they start pulling the church down. Some people may get uppity if they feel that the website is focusing on the buildings rather than the people (or the worship, or the doctrine, or whatever). Ignore them, or at any rate just ask: If the pages of photos / history / whatever weren't there, would this person be complaining?

You should have a think about who's going to be finding the website useful. I can think of the following groups.

Once you've decided who your main audience is and what you have to say to them, things are liable to be clearer. Maybe.