Most people, when you talk about wanting a website, want their website to be the most popular thing out there. They strive to have traffic, to have people checking their site daily—even if they never or rarely change their site.
One of the things that is important for you to do if you want a church website is to figure out its purpose. Before contacting someone to host it or develop it you need to figure out its purpose and what is realistic.
The Postcard Site
If you do not intend to update it frequently—or at all—it’s best for you to consider you site like a post card, or an ad in the yellow pages. It’s not going to be something people are going to check daily, but something people who are looking for a church may find and be able to read more about your church.
And it’s important to have a presence on the web, because there’s so much that you can share about your church’s doctrine, activities, etc. So you’ll want to have this kind of site—and you’ll want to brand your church’s contact information with the site—but you should not be disheartened when your analytics report that few are coming by.
The Media Center
If you’re intending to use your site as a place to hear sermons and perhaps sell things through it, you’re going to want to spend more money and get better technology (think storefronts). Basically, to store audio or video online isn’t cheap—especially when it comes to the bandwidth of sending something to someone’s browser. Depending on how you store it, they may download the whole thing, but may only listen to part of it. For you, it’s as if they heard the whole thing.
If you’re thinking of selling, you’ll need to decide how you’ll take payments and what products are for sale. There are applications out there that are pretty customizable, and you may want to start with one of them and see what you can make of it.
The Conversation Hub
If you want your site to be high traffic, you’re going to have to provide something for people to come back to every day. That means you will need new content on a daily (or more frequent basis).
That means that you’ll need to have a blog type feel to it, or have a forum running. Both of these take a lot of work—both identifying the audience, having people willing to invest the time to write the content, and moderation of the user generated text. It’s not easy, and I’m not sure how much it buys you, but if you have a large enough congregation and have one that’s well connected to the internet you may be able to get a good share of them to visit your site.
Make sure that you approach the decision about what kind of site you want to have with both eyes open. Consider the cost—not only monetarily—of each of these kind of sites and invest wisely.