Church Sites Part 4 Design

Be sure to read the previous post about why you should use WordPress.

There is an “adage” in information technology: content is king – and it is true. Bad content sucks. Bad content can not be overcome by great design. But, good content can be overlooked because of bad design.

Trust me, you really need to spend intentional energy on the look of the site. You don’t have to be an artist to get good results. Especially with the plethora of free styles and themes available out there.

Here are some tips to getting a great look, easily:

  1. If you are coding your own site, I highly suggest you buy a web creation tool. A good one has a lot of baked-in styles to choose from.
  2. If you choose to use something like WordPress, you’ve got an incredible library of themes to choose from.
  3. Find a style/theme that matches as close as possible to your desired look. Chose subtle over flashy. Flashy is not classy.
  4. If you have to make changes to the look, make very subtle changes. Use very few colors, very few font sizes, and very few font styles.
  5. If you have a great logo, then use it, but if not, let your ministry name be plain text. Trust me, a plain text “logo” is much better than a crappy graphic logo.
  6. Use motion sparingly (or not at all), and force the user to click media files in order to play them. Do not auto-play media. It’s annoying and screams “NOOBIE!”

Finally, you might consider a premium theme. Some advantages to premium themes are:

  1. They are well-designed.
  2. Because you have to pay for it, the possibility of your site looking like another lessens.
  3. They usually have good administration panels that let you tweak them just the way you want them.
  4. Most premium theme vendors have solid forums for support – even for novices.

There are two kinds of premium themes.

  1. Design-centric: emphasis is on design, out of the box – just install it and go. If you don’t trust your design eye, or don’t have someone who designs well, then choose a design-centric theme.
  2. Framework-centric: emphasis is on technology behind the theme, usually requiring a lot of tweaking for visual appeal. If you want solid tech, and love to design or have a good designer on hand, then you may want a framework-centric theme.

Here at GR, and at Thrive Church, we use a framework-centric theme called Standard Theme. The cool thing about Standard Theme is that while it is framework-centric, it also looks GREAT out of the box. Of course, it’s meant to be visually tweaked, so you’ll need to be comfortable with CSS unless you want the plain vanilla look.

Next Post: Essential Content.

8 Replies to “Church Sites Part 4 Design”

    1. I’ve never used it for anything live. I played around with it, and there are some good things about it like the drag-and-drop layouts. But, overall I think there are some pretty glaring problems.

      The overall interface of the site management engine is a bit clunky, and not very intuitive. And, the sites don’t look that great when done. They are not terrible, but they have that Google-ish unrefined vibe to them.

      If you are looking for a free hosted service like google sites, because of the weirdness of actually using google sites, I think you would be much happier using wordpress.com

      I really urge you to give wordpress.com a try…

    1. templates: Yes, they call theme “themes” and there are TONS of free themes.

      hosting: option 1: wordpress.com provides you with free “hosting” of your blog/site on their servers… it will be something like http://wordpress.com/yoursitename…. if have your own domain, you can assign it to your wordpress.com site – for a small yearly fee (I think it is $4).

      option 2: see my prior post about free hosting for your church site, and install wordpress on your server – and yes, there are tons of free themes available for this option, too.

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