Is WordPress really the best website builder for churches?

It’s the beginning of the year, so that means it’s time to talk about updating your website…again. Once you’ve thought about the best web strategy for your site, chances are WordPress is going to come up. Is WordPress really the best website builder for churches? WordPress powers almost half of the internet (true story), but that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Let’s talk about what makes WordPress so great..and maybe not so great.

WordPress.com and WordPress.org

Confused, You’re not alone! How are you supposed to recognize the difference between .com and .org when you were trained to spot the difference between past/present conjugations of an ancient Greek word? Let me break it down for you really quickly.

WordPress.org is an open-source CMS that helps servers talk with web browsers, but it doesn’t actually host a website.

Said differently, WordPress.org is an engine. When a site loads, it actually pulls a bunch of information snippets from a database. These bits of info are put together with PHP and displayed as HTML. WordPress.org is how all of that works behind-the-scenes to give you a functioning CMS and end-users a normal HTML-based website.

If “WordPress.org is an engine,” then WordPress.com is the car the engine sits in. WordPress.com helps users focus more on writing blogs and less on the design and functionality of a site. Just like you shouldn’t mix and match a car’s engine with a different body (e.g. a Dodge F-150’s engine has no business being in a Mini Cooper), you won’t find WordPress.org’s engine inside of Wix, Weebly, Squarespace or something else. Similarly, you can’t get Squarespace’s engine without getting Squarespace’s car, as well.

Make sense? Then let’s do a quick examination of use-cases when WordPress is great for you, or too much.

A Website Questionnaire

Question #1: Will you have more than one editor on your site? 

WordPress is a great platform for having multiple users manage the site. It comes built in with roles, so you can have a designer, an author and an administrator and not have to worry about someone breaking something (for the most part). If you don’t have multiple users, then you don’t have to feel trapped by WordPress (although there are still some other factors to consider).

Question #2: Are you a designer or content manager?

These days, templates are the way of the world. Anyone can have great looking content by using them. However, if your main concern is the written word (or video URL), then platforms like Wix and Squarespace might be too design-focused for you. If you like Google Docs, Microsoft Word or something similar, then WordPress is the way to go.

Wix and Squarespace are great if you like the drag-and-drop visual builders. Chances are, if you like Canva, you’ll like Squarespace.

I like using WordPress with a great premium theme like Pro theme, since you get the best of both worlds. That’s what we’re using right now!

Question #3: Do you have any coding experience (or interest in it at all?)

These days, you don’t need to know anything about HTML, CSS, Javascript or PHP to have a great website, but a little bit of familiarity goes a long way! With a premium theme for WordPress, you can usually create some cool animations without code snippets, but sites like Squarespace, Wix or Weebly will require more code snippets (and larger ones at that) to have cool features. They’re simple for a reason! Animations are key to giving your users a fantastic experience, but too many random code snippets can cause your site to slow down or behave oddly.

Question #4: What other SaaS tools can you integrate with a website?

Are you using Mailchimp, Youtube, Vimeo, or Zapier? What about Planning Center, Church Community Builder, Shelby, or Subsplash? The benefit of WordPress being so popular is that most other SaaS (software-as-a-service) developers need to build integrations with WordPress to meet the needs of their customers. Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck copying-and-pasting content from a Newsletter to Squarespace to an InDesign file if you can avoid it!

The Best Website Builder for Churches Is…

Unsurprisingly, the best website builder for churches is the one that matches your situation. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Here’s a simple breakdown:

You might like Wix, Squarespace or Subsplash if:

  • you’re the only editor for your church’s website
  • you’re a design-first, content-second kind of person
  • you want a simple, template-heavy solution to your website

You might like WordPress if:

  • you’re looking to scale your website into more than simple landing pages
  • wonderful user experiences are a must
  • you work with a team of content creators
  • you want to integrate more SaaS tools or a ChMS

All in all, if you do some research, you’ll find the right tool for your specific situation. Want someone to talk to? You can always get in touch with a Kingdom One expert to chat with a real-live human about what you’re thinking and get feedback on what the best route to go is.

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