There are many options when it comes to selecting a website designer or developer: there are individual free lancers, companies that serve a wide range of clients, and companies that specialize in parish websites. There are free website building options such as WordPress and Weebly. You can opt for a template with a variety of elements from which to choose to a fully customized design by a professional designer and everything in between. The important thing to remember is that all templates, all design companies and all designers are not equal in terms of meeting your needs.
Choosing the Best Designer for Your Parish Website
How will you know the template or the designer that is best for you? You can make a reasonable selection if you know:
- the role this website will serve in the mission of this parish
- the text and images you want on the homepage
- the components of the navigation bar
- the text and images you want for the interior pages
- approximately how many pages your site will have
- special features you will need: i.e. photo gallery, blog, staff directory, option for online giving, audio and video posting, etc.
- how much support you will need after the site is launched (everyone needs some)
- the skills of the local person, staff or volunteer, who is responsible for this website
- that today you require a website that is responsive to different size screens
- what appeals to you from other websites in terms of how they look and “feel”– have examples
- Any special features you want, i.e. a mobile app that integrates with the website, an email newsletter, etc.
Avoid templates or designers that can’t meet all or most of your requirements or require a greater local skill level than your person has. Or, if you don’t have anyone to manage your website locally, find a designer who will work with you on an ongoing basis to add new content and make changes for you.
Look for the Design or Designer that Meets Your Needs
Realize that whatever option you choose, it will have limitations. You will have to make some trade-offs. A good design partner will work with you to achieve your priorities. Before you make your choice, try to know as much as you can about the template or theme if you go that route or the designer or design company if you go that route. If your local resources are very limited, then you also need a designer that provides training and ongoing support. Do not ask for something you cannot maintain going forward. Also, know whether the designer provides hosting for the site or if you must find your own host.
Design supports message and content and facilitates action. If you select a skilled designer and know what you want and have what you need, you can get a good design. If you don’t come prepared, you will not be a good partner. Your designer will be working in the dark. What you will get will be more generic than unique and most likely be outdated when it is launched or soon after.
Designers are not miracle workers. Skilled designers take pride in their work and they want to deliver the best for their customer. They need a committed partner to do that.
Next week, I will show you a parish website where both partners did their jobs well.