Are you building a new church website?
Do you need to build a new church website?
Then this might be the guide for you!
Building the Website
Building the website took quite a few hours and obviously this is where the bulk of the time is expected to go to. Unfortunately, our previous site hadn’t been updated in a long time and even when it had there was not a clear voice present. So as I was creating the pages and content for the site, I tried to maintain a steady voice for each ministry I was describing, as well as a the same uniformed look for the pages.
Because I chose such a great theme, a lot of the hard work was already done for me in that I could create slideshows and sliding banners by uploading pictures by using the tools already created.
Online Giving / Registration Forms
The site was ready to roll but we still needed an online giving presence. Our Director of Finance was in charge of this task and looked at many, many different possibilities. We looked at everything from Square to PayPal to Google Wallet to the “churchy” online giving sites. All were the same for the most part, most charged 2.5% per transaction and then pay this or that per month.
The problem we ran into is that we needed a way to accept cash payments through the registration form. For example, we have VBS coming up and will have 200+ kids that need to register. 30-40 of those kids will want to register online but pay for VBS (only $30) in cash once they arrive. So when they registered online, we needed something to make it free so that they wouldn’t have to pay anything online, but would still be able to register and show up in our database. I was surprised, but of the 6-7 companies we looked at, only 1 was able to have this option.
We ultimately ended up choosing NCS Services because of the cash option. They had all the same types of price points just like everyone else, but they had figured out a way to make a cash option.
Working with NCS Services has been great! They have been very helpful in getting us used to their program and how they work and they are able to integrate with our church software (shelby), which our old donation host did not, so it will save us time in the long run.
While I like about NCS is that they are on twitter and engaged with their audience! That is one thing I didn’t see with our last host…not that its necessary but its nice to see! They also have some great posts about how to get more people giving at your church.
There are a few bummers with NCS that I think need to be addressed!
- They say that they can make a page that looks exactly like your website so that users will think they are on your website. The page we were given has our logo on the top of a blank white page with login info. The buttons and other info on the page is nothing like what our site looks like.
- If you want to make a registration form say for our preschool or for our sunday school enrollment, you have to go a round about way of doing it. You can make a registration form but it has to have a certain set of dates that an event will occur, so yes you can make up an arbitrary set of dates…but to me that is not the same as having a set registration form.
- There are 8 unchangeable data items on their registration forms, for example I wanted to set up the preschool registration form and have the children’s name listed first and then get the info for the family. With NCS you can’t do that because it is set up to have [name, address, email, phone, etc.] as a default at the beginning of the form and after several emails I’ve found that this is not able to be changed. Which means I am going to have to find a registration wordpress plugin that I like and link the “pay here” button to the NCS site. That’s not a huge problem, but it is a kink in the system imo.
I would still recommend NCS Services because of their customer relations and assistance, I just wish they would have a more updated look on my site and allow me to change certain default settings.
Lastly I should mention that we currently have a Vimeo Plus account that hosts each sermon video. I’ve tried YouTube in the past, but feel that Vimeo was just a better option and had a cleaner look and feel. I like most of the parts of vimeo, I just wish they had a way to put videos into folders or organize them in some fashion. If I happen to upload a video from June before a current video from this month, it will forever show up in the order that I uploaded them in. Unless there’s a secret, if you know…please tell!
Part 4 to include SEO, Google Analytics, Promoting the new website and WordPress plugins we used.