18 church website Mistakes Leaders Make When Hiring a Builder

by | Apr 5, 2024 | Website

In my 6+ years of consulting, I’ve seen a LOT of church websites.

Some good. Some bad. Some terrible (I don’t speak of those).

The difference often came down to one thing:

Whether church leadership truly understood what they needed from a website when they hired someone to build it.

I get it– rebuilding a website isn’t something you do very often.

So if your church’s website needs a refresh, let me help you avoid the most common mistakes I see churches make when they hire a website builder.

Mistakes Churches Make Before the Build Starts

Before you even start looking at partners to build your new website, you have to first consider what your church needs.

There are 3 church website mistakes you can make at the beginning to set the project off course. They are:

  1. Not setting goals. If you don’t know what your website needs to do for your church, your builder will naturally focus on what they do best. And that may not be what’s best for your church in the long run.
  2. Neglecting to consider integrations. Certain software (for example, ChRMs like Planning Center) must integrate with your website for you to collect contact information, tithes, and more. Ask about them.
  3. No/wrong budget. If you don’t set a budget, it’s easy to overspend on extra features… Or underspend and not get what you need.

If you don’t know what goals to pick for your website (but your current site isn’t working) schedule a call today. I’d love to discuss how your church’s website can become a powerful tool for connecting with visitors.

Mistakes Churches Make Selecting a Website Builder

You may think you can hire anyone to build your website– like a volunteer from your church or your friend’s Uncle Joe.

You *can* hire anyone, but remember: The end product – and your sanity during the process – depends on who you hire.

Here’s what churches often miss when selecting a website builder:

  1. Not checking for experience. Make sure whoever you hire has experience. (Ask for references, too.) Otherwise, you might end up with a site that isn’t great for first-time guests, or waiting indefinitely while they build it in their free time.
  2. Neglecting to check their portfolio. Their portfolio will show you if their design aesthetic will work for you.
  3. No timelines discussed. If you have a deadline in mind, make sure you mention it. You’ll likely have to negotiate based on how long it will take them to build your site. Professionals often have multiple clients, so even if your new website will take less than 40 hours, that doesn’t mean they can get it ready for you in less than a week.
  4. Not asking about testing procedures. If your website builder doesn’t run tests, parts of your site may be unusable, which turns people off.

For example, imagine that your contact form isn’t working properly, but someone reaches out via your website to ask about service times and hears… crickets. They’re probably not going to come on Sunday after an interaction like that, right?

The Firm Foundations Marketing team has written, designed, and built websites for churches of all sizes. Check out some examples from our portfolio and get an idea of what it could look like to have a Guest-Friendly website here. 

Now that you know how to find the right website builder, let’s talk about how to direct them so that you get a website that works.

Church Website Mistakes Made When Connecting with Guests

The main job of your website is to help you connect with guests. Here are the mistakes churches make that keep them from that:

  1. Not choosing a responsive design. People browse on their phones, so you MUST choose a responsive design that works well on all devices.
  2. Lack of understanding about the importance of solid SEO. Once, a church hired us to do search engine optimization (SEO) on their website after paying a builder thousands of dollars. It looked amazing– but hard to find on Google.
  3. Not considering user experience. A badly designed website creates a poor first impression of your church. Choose a builder who creates user-friendly sites. If you don’t know what “user-friendly” is, it’s a tech term that means that people should be able to easily read and find what they need on your website, even if they’ve never seen it before. And, to relate to back to what I said earlier about responsive design, your website should be user-friendly on both a computer and a phone.
  4. Lack of accessibility. If you don’t make your website accessible to people with disabilities, you may end up frustrating people. You may also end up in legal trouble.

If you’d like help designing the user experience on your website, schedule a call today!

Mistakes Churches Make About Website Functionality

Lastly, let’s talk about the functional, administrative items church leaders may not know to have on their radar and ask about.

Here are the top mistakes churches make on the tech side.

Back-end administrative mistakes:

  1. Not asking about hosting. Some website builders offer hosting. Others don’t. Ask– you don’t want extra expenses or limitations later.
  2. Understanding ownership. You want to own your website. If your website builder owns it, it’s hard to change or transfer it to another provider.
  3. Assuming the website will be automatically secure. A not-secure website means you can be more easily exploited by hackers, so make sure your builder puts protections in place.

Maintenance and Growth mistakes:

  1. Not getting analytics. Analytics are necessary to make your website guest-friendly and drive church growth. Make sure they’re integrated into your site.
  2. Not considering scalability. As your church grows, your website needs to grow too. If your website can’t, you’ll spend a lot of time and money redesigning the site.
  3. Forgetting about maintenance. Every site needs content, tech, and security updates. Check who handes these, and if your builder does emergency fixes. You don’t want unexpected expenses or downtime if your site glitches.
  4. Not considering content management. From sermons to study guides, your church uses and produces TONS of content. Choose a builder who can include a user-friendly content management system (or CMS) that is easy to update and change.

Now that you know what church website mistakes to avoid, it’s a good idea to be familiar with these concepts so that you and other leaders can discuss – and choose the best website builder for your church.

An even better idea – schedule a call today. I’d be happy to go over questions or quote what it’d cost for our team to build your site.