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worship technology - church websites

church websites, church web design, and church web hostingWhile it seems like a given that a church should have a strong web presence, many congregations struggle with the design, building, and maintenance of a clear, concise webpage for their various ministries.

Attracting new members, allowing existing members to interact with the church and each other, posting upcoming events, connecting members with small groups, blogs, sermons, podcasts...the list of options a properly designed website gives a congregation is growing everyday. While many churches realize the NEED for a website, many also struggle with the "how-to" aspect of designing and operating a website for their congregation.

The good news? It's not impossible to design a great looking website, and just about anyone with some spare time and a creative mind can do it. In addition to the paid resources listed below, there are several great free resources you can take advantage of when designing your church website.

Free Church Web Design Tools

1. Joomla!: Joomla is an opensource (free) software that allows users to build and manage websites. Extremely popular, Joomla! is a great option for congregations with limited or no funds for their website.

2. Kuler: A great tool for those without an eye for color schemes, Adobe Kuler is a great tool for finding prospective color swatches for your church website.

websites for churches, church web hosting and content management systems3. WordPress: A free blogging software for use with your website. Customizable layouts, easy to setup...check out our blog for an example of how WordPress can integrate with your website.

4. Google Webmaster Tools: Google Webmaster Tools is a great way to increase traffic to your site, figure out what pages on your site are getting traffic, and determine what areas of your site need tweaking. Best of all? It's free!

5. FreeFoto: A great resource for churches that don't have a handy supply of graphics or photography for use on their website, FreeFoto is an easy way to add photos and other images to your church website.

So where to start? We've compiled a list of top web design tools for churches interested in buidling their own website. In addition to some great web design books, we've also listed some of the top web design software for you to consider when designing the perfect website for your congregation. You'll also want to check out the Guide to Worship blog, where we list the top mistakes churches make when designing their own website.

 

Church Web Design Tools and Resources


CSS: The Missing Manual
David McFarland
$15.39

A great tool for those new to web design, CSS: The Missing Manual is a comprehensive introduction to Cascading Style Sheets.

Separating the styling (fonts, background colors, formatting) from the content (the text, headers, etc) of your site, CSS allows you to creatively design, modify, and style your church website.

While there are many web design books out there, the Missing Manual series is one of our favorites, since the books read easily, contain practical examples, and come with downloadable practice files when applicable.

 

 

Creating a Website: The Missing Manual
Matthew MacDonald
$19.79

Another great resource in the Missing Manual series, this book is designed for beginners to the world of web design. From the initial planning phases of your website, to design and implementation, Creating a Website: The Missing Manual is a critical tool for novices to the world of web design.

In addition, the book covers some great tips on blogging, web hosting, choosing a domain name, and the use of CSS and Javascript in order to create a professional and functional website for your church.

 

 

 

Dreamweaver CS4
Adobe
$384.99

The industry-standard web design software, CS4 is the latest release of Dreamweaver from Adobe. Dreamweaver is a cross-platfrom software that also integrates well with the other products in the Adobe family, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks and Flash.

While used by professionals to create high-end websites, Dreamweaver is also a highly accesible and easy to learn software. From creating drop-down menus to incorporating video into your website, Dreamweaver is a powerful webdesign tool for pros and beginners alike.

 

 

Creative Suite 4 - Design Premium (Windows)
Adobe
$1489.99

Including everything but the kitchen sink, Adobe Creative Suite 4 - Design Premium includes Dreamweaver CS4, in addition some other great applications for web design.

Included in the Creative Suite 4 - Design Premium package are the following programs: Fireworks CS4, InDesign CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, Illustrator CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, and Acrobat 9 Professional.

While the beginner might not need all of the software listed above, the Design Premium package is a great option for designers with a keen interest in learning, or those with experience in graphic arts and graphic design.

 

 

Dreamweaver CS4: The Missing Manual
David McFarland
$26.72

At the risk of sound like a Missing Manual infomercial, this is a book worth the purchase if you're new to Dreamweaver, or are upgrading from a previous version.

We used the Missing Manual series in the design of the Guide to Worship site, and have hands-on experience with the practical and relevant advice and information given in this book.

In addition to hands-on tutorials, the author provides you with a working web site framework that you can customize to meet the needs of your congregation and ministries.

 

 

The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax, and PHP
David Powers
$31.49

If you're in search of a book that is chock-full of practical examples and hands-on tutorials, The Essential Guide to Dreamweaver CS4 with CSS, Ajax, and PHP is probably the manual you've been waiting for.

While the book is a bit more technical that the Missing Manual series, it is a great introduction to dynamic webpages that can store email addresses in a database, pull certain information based on a search, or allow users to provide feedback on your website.

In addition, the book covers form validation, the creation of login pages, and other PHP server behaviors.

 

 

Contribute CS4
Adobe
$193.49

If you plan on having a team of people work on, edit, and update your website, Adobe Contribue CS4 is a must-have tool.

Contribute CS4 allows users to edit and create webpages, while defining roles and responsibilities for each member of the web design team. In doing so, work can be reviewed, files are never overwritten, and the design and content of the site stay separate.

Ideal for those with less web design experience, Contribute CS4 allows users to post articles, blogs, and web pages without having to worry about the design features behind-the-scenes.

 

 

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