domains and content for church websites

A friend posted this question on facebook

Thinking about Church websites, any one got an opinion as to what suffix to use. eg. should it be .com .com.au, .org, .org.au. Also what features do you reckon a good church website should have. thanks

If you’re a church, I think you should have a dot-org domain name. If you’re a church in Australia, I think you should have a dot-au kind of domain name. So I would say dot-org-dot-au would be the domain name.

Further, keep in mind the way you’ll use the URL. It’s going to go on printed material, it’s going to be part of a lot of email addresses, so think about ambiguous spelling, and how hard it’s going to be to spell out over the phone. They simpler the better. If your denomination is hard to spell (like Presbyterian), think about an abbreviation instead (if it’s still available).

In terms of features to include on a website, it’s better to think in terms of content than features. What are you trying to achieve with your church website? I would say that a church website is the modern-day equivalent to the sign out the front of your church. If you have a lot of resourcing, time and effort, it can be more than that, but at a basic level it should have

  • Name of the church (so people know whose website they are on)
  • Picture of the church building (so people know which building in physical space they’re talking about)
  • Sunday Service times (so people can come and see your service)
  • Picture of a Sunday service (so people know what to expect, what to wear, what kind of people go to your church)
  • Map of where your service isĀ 
  • Contact form / Email address where people can ask questions

And all of these things should be easily viewable on a smart phone. If you feel you need to explain a lot of denomination-specific things to your church website visitors, why not link back to the denomination’s state or federal website, instead of re-inventing the wheel on your website?

I would say that the primary audience for a church website should be people who haven’t been to your church before – you can tell regulars what they need to do via email, or on a member-facing part of the site: there’s no need to fill up your website with content for multiple of audiences.

If you have more resources to keep a website up to date, then by all means start doing something more complicated, but this would be where I’d start.

Any further questions? I’d love to write more on this topic if it’s of any use to people.