Private web designers must make special considerations when designing or constructing a website for a church or other religious organizations. Although I’ve done private web design for nine years, I was unprepared for my first request to construct a website for a church. Not only had I never been involved in a church community, but I found that church websites require special attention and consideration compared to commercial sites.
Web Design for Churches: Avoid Misnomers and Miscommunication
If you aren’t involved in the church you’re designing a website for, it’s likely that you’ll make a mistake or two in your use of language, especially if you’re also the primary content-writer for the web page. For example, those unfamiliar with a particular demonization might use the word “priest” when “pastor” is more correct, or the word “services” when “mass” is more correct. To avoid offending your client or misleading the website’s visitors, get answers to all questions you may have regarding the language used by the church organization.
Web Design for Churches: The Website Should Look Warm, not Commercial
A super-clean, crisp website full of sales pitches would be excellent if the aim of the website is to sell a product, but this is not the case with most chuch websites. Instead of looking like the church is trying to exchange anything for money, the colors and layout of the site should be suggestive of a warm, ethical, and home-like atmosphere. Potential church members may be driven away by a site that looks overly commercial.
Web Design for Churches: Know your Target Audience
As your potential clients who their target audience is. Young families with children? Older couples? Teen and college-age youth? Although you shouldn’t write or build a layout that appeals exclusively to any single group, you will benefit by knowing who you are trying to appeal to. A church seeking mostly elderly members will not want a site full of Flash and low-contrast images, and a church seeking youth will not want a website that looks excessively boring.
Web Design for Churches: Use Plenty of Pictures
No matter what sort of website you’re building, your target audience will react well to seeing pictures of happy people with whom they can relate. Additionally, in the case of a church website, photographs will illustrate the church’s appearance for users who are unfamiliar with its location. Photographs of the inside and outside of the church can help potential members feel at-home before they ever set foot in the door, and this sense of familiarity can be a key element in successful website design.
With proper consideration, you can create a website for a church that can fully appeal to both your client and your target audience. Although web design for churches requires some special consideration, it is well worth the extra effort to do things right.
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