Reviewing 5 best church website builders: Autumn 2019
Are you a church leader or a minister? Or are you just an IT guy or a volunteer working for your church, who was assigned with a task to create and run a website? In either case, you may not be unaware of how to create websites in the first place, while a religious website can be even a trickier task for you. Why? Because of such things as sermon recording, uploading and downloading, donations (tithing and other forms of it) that require the payment process set-up, which is closely connected with SSL (payment security), and, well, a good-looking design is pretty hard to do if you’re not in this business for years.
Today, we are considering 5 best church website builders, every one of which is going to help you out with making a website for your religion or congregation. Besides looking at their pros, cons, and pricing, we are going to talk about which option is better to choose – a dedicated church website builder or one of a general direction.
Church website builders: introduction
If you already know what website creators are in general, you may be wondering what is so special about Christian web builders. Churches, basically, are another industry or direction of a website, which one can create using the vastness of online tools. Yes, it is true. But not every general Christian web builder has a template dedicated to chapels. Their specific is as follows:
donations (including acceptance of ones directly through the site) – which is actually different from sales of some merchandise, as there is no merchandise there exchanged for money
different types of sermons may be held at different days and require different circumstances and involvement of people (weddings, funerals, baptisms, christenings), including the calendar of life events that are dedicated to the life of every facility – like periodical worship services that may be ran on Sundays or other days that your religion has
in addition to the mentioned, it would be nice to have such pages included in a template by default: homepage, about page (with contact data and where to find you, as a church is a physical organization in most cases and can be located in some area that is hard to find for new people, so Google map’s indication of your place would be nice, too), calendar (in order to know if some days and time are occupied by recurring or bookable events), newsletter, donation information (that is, you can tell on this page how you spend the received donations from your congregation and whether you have some goal to reach like constructing a new building for the needs of your religion), and a contact page
it is also possible to have a dedicated page with pieces of downloads:
recorded sermons as MP3 or AVI
books of faith
pictures from the held events
books and apps
educational materials and others.
To cover these needs, it is essential to understand that at least a dedicated template is necessary if not a special creator.
What are the 5 best church website builders
Review of Wix church websites builder
We have 5 website creators on our list of top and three of them are of general direction while the rest two are specialized. Wix opens our list of general online software. We have included general creators because they have good templates, which can perfectly cover the needs that we have spoken out in the previous chapter of the text. If there is no template for chapels, then, at least, it is possible to use one of the other templates to make fast adjustments to make things work. Wix is popular, it has been around for a while, and it has at least 6 dedicated templates, which you can adjust to your needs.
The advancements of church web sites builder Wix:
Powerful interface to personify your templates to an extent that you need.
Little money for monthly running and no installation price (unlike ‘Ministry Designs’ software).
Many apps to connect to your site to make it work (including many channels of donations and their integration to payment systems, downloads, and shares, including online streaming of previously recorded sermons or ones that are being streamed online right from the sermon).
A possibility to add as many pages as you need and to connect a good-looking domain name.
The shortcomings of Wix:
Impossible to change the template once your site goes live.
Many templates and apps are paid.
Limited storage and bandwidth. So if you plan to upload a lot, think about ‘Business & eCommerce’ subscriptions, which have widened storage (even though you don’t need to make online commerce as the main direction of the functionality of your site).
The cost of Wix:
If you consider nice storage as the main requirement, then it is expedient to consider “VIP” subscription and higher (from $24.50 a month). If you don’t plan to upload much and can find external services like YouTube to put big videos and audios, then it is possible to consider ‘Combo’ or ‘Unlimited’ for $8.50 and $12.50 a month accordingly. We are not looking at its most basic option for $4.50 a month, as it’s clearly unsuitable for the purposes of a church.
Review of Squarespace
It is somewhat inferior to Wix creator of websites for churches, as Squarespace does not have dedicated themes for churches and it is harder to use for beginners in web design. However, you can look through such sets of templates as ‘Non-Profit’ and ‘Community’ – as many of them can be finely adjusted to your needs. We can specifically highlight themes called ‘Impact’ and ‘Mentor’ – which have a close semblance to templates that are popular in ‘Ministry Designs’ religious website creator.
The advancements of Squarespace:
It has many beautiful designs, which are filled with functionality.
It is possible to create exactly the set of pages, which are necessary for you – including the donations page, contacts, map, sermons, and so on.
It is the best website creator on the market considering the power of functions it offers – like unlimited bandwidth and storage, SSL security, free custom domain, nice work with SEO, mobile optimization, customer support, managing your custom HTML, CSS, and Java codes (if you’re pro in it), and many monetization/donation options.
The shortcomings of church website builder Squarespace:
Its working interface is tangled and may confuse those who have never been in the creating of a website before. So it is better to use its educational videos and to practice to master it fast.
Unless paid for a year, you won’t get a free custom domain name.
Monthly prices are slightly higher than the yearly prices.
The cost of church website builder Squarespace:
From 12 to 40 dollars a month is the cost of annual subscription but opting for payments month-to-month, be ready to pay from 16 to 46 dollars a month. It is actually possible to save up to 30% with the plan ‘Business’ for $18 a month, paying annually, which is equal to 96 dollars. But if you want the functions of your dreams, covering every necessity and no transaction fees (to save 3% commission from donations, which may be important for you), then opt for ‘Basic Commerce’ plan for $26 a month.
Review of Weebly church website builder
This is the third website creator on our list, which is not specifically designed for churches but it works excellently for them.
The advancements of church website builder Weebly:
It has a simpler interface than the previous two – Wix and Squarespace.
Many great-looking templates and apps to use.
The best choice for the budget.
It is relatively cheap to run the site for churches.
Free SSL in every subscription package.
The shortcomings of church website builder Weebly:
No specifically church themes, but this circumstance is compensated by high adjustability of other themes that one can use.
Not so flamboyant creative freedom.
The cost of church website builder Weebly:
For only 10 Euros a month (if paid annually), you get the full set of features: unlimited bandwidth and storage, a custom good-looking domain, site search function, no ad banners of a religious website creator, some promo money coming for free (if you happen to need it), availability to accept donations, SEO, lead capture forms, community forum, site stats, support of a help center through phone, live chat, and e-mails. Take the subscription plans for 20 and 30 Euros if only you’re interested in more power of sales (but this is largely irrelevant for churches).
Review of Sharefaith church website builder
Sharefaith is a specialized religious website creator, which offers its members a vast number of templates with all features and pages that a church may need, premium support, a platform for donations with channels of them, special software for worships, built-in church graphics editor, and many media and graphic pieces (over 90,000).
It offers great technology basis (as it is built on WordPress engine). It is possible to easily work thanks to drag-and-drop editor, templates adjustments, upload and share sermons, built-in features and apps, and a possibility to switch themes for as many times as you need.
The advancements of church website builder Sharefaith:
A specialized tool, which is based on a deep understanding of the needs of church runners.
It does not require any upfront installation payment as Ministry Designs requires.
There are over 8 thousand ministries and churches that use Sharefaith today.
The shortcomings of church website builder Sharefaith:
Relatively costly compared to any other non-specialized religious website creator: the price starts with 26 dollars a month.
The working interface of it is not so easy to use as Wix’s or Weebly’s.
The cost of church website builder Sharefaith:
There are four packages:
$25 a month will let you have limited access to the media gallery, you’ll get bulletins and newsletters, as well as church videos upload, and work with Photoshop.
For $35 monthly, you get video and textual lessons on Bible for children, mobile and offline curriculum, and a scheduler for Sunday School classes.
$45 a month give the mentioned in the previous plan + 3 extra subdomains and unlimited templates switching.
$79 a month give the mentioned and a mobile app for your congregation, scheduler and membership for children, and free migrations of your site to another hosting.
If you choose to pay for these packs on a monthly basis, the price is going to be 30, 40, 50, and 88 dollars a month.
Review of Ministry Designs church website builder
This religious website creator has been the first on the market but due to its unreasonably high pricing policy, it is now fading, embracing only above 2 thousands churches, which use this tool.
It is professional and one of a kind tool, as many users think but it cannot actually boast with the diversity of its templates or anything other than Sharefaith religious website creator wouldn’t do.
The advancements of church website builder Ministry Designs:
Many templates dedicated to the word of God.
Adjustability and functionality.
The shortcomings of church website builder Ministry Designs:
The initial price to join the religious website creator is $1,000 + 20 bucks each month.
Many of its templates are similar. For instance, ‘Acts’ has the same menu, layout, and the main picture as the ‘Galatians’, only differing in minor things, while they both lookalike to ‘Luke’ theme. The ‘Apostle’ theme is similar to ‘Genesis’, ‘Micah’, and ‘Romans’, while ‘Hebrews’ and ‘Job’ nearly the same. So, if to highlight only those themes that really differ from one another not just in the main picture and font face, then only a few templates are left.
Too little number of current users.
The cost of church website builder Ministry Designs:
1,000 for initial installation and $20 each month for running it. There are no other options for packages, everyone uses the same financial conditions.
Conclusion about church website builders
It is hard to tell, what is the best for each particular user (specific religious website creators or ones of a general direction). Speaking frankly, general creators seem not inferior to church ones and they even outrun them in many things, one of which is the smaller price in every case. As for functionality, we didn’t find any peculiarities in general website creators, which wouldn’t be reachable in religious website creators and vice versa. That is, if only you have specific precautions of your church management about using Sharefaith or Ministry Designs religious website creators, then go for Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.
FAQ about church website builders
Q: Which religious website creator is easiest to use?
A: On the suggested list, we find Weebly the easiest. It may not have the same amount of features to tune your religious website as Wix but it offers to reach every possible functionality, eventually. Its interface is easy for beginners and advanced users.
Q: Which religious website creator fits small budgets best?
A: If you have too little money to invest in your online presence, you should definitely abandon Sharefaith and Ministry Designs – the first for big monthly installments, the other for huge jumping-in price. Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly will cover your needs with as little money as 12-25 dollars a month, giving a custom domain name, free reliable hosting, no need to get into the HTML code, a possibility to create pages to your liking fast and efficiently, and help channels if you need any assistance.
Q: Which is optimal to consider– a general creator or a specific creator for churches?
A: Based on the analysis, it is best to consider general online building software, as it is cheaper, has the same functions and allows users to build a church web site with the required degree of personalization. But if it is important for you to have a dedicated mobile app for your congregation – choose Sharefaith, otherwise choose Weebly as the most little-priced yet powerful option.
Q: The best domain for my religious website – how is it chosen?
A: It should be started with the understanding that a free run of religious website creator will not allow you to have a free domain name. Also, some cheapest subscriptions will not free you from ad banners of the tool located on your webpages.
You may find a free domain name just by entering the desired name that you want into the domain name selector or a religious website creator and choose a proper from the untaken ones or coming up with a unique one. It ideally should reflect the name of your church and may include the location.
Q: What about hosting for a website of my church in best website builder for churches?
A: In no religious website creator, one needs to care about hosting – as site hosting is done automatically by a church website builder.
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