Our website service uses the WordPress platform which we have extended with a number of plugins to offer facilities which are generally useful for church sites. At the same time we have tried to keep costs to a minimum and maintenance as simple as possible. This page gives further details on what you can (and can’t) do.
WordPress is very flexible and although our demo sites have a simple structure, one of them being a single page, you can use any structure you like. The menu system will accommodate sub-menus, to several levels if you need them, and there is no limit on the number of pages you can add to your site, although we would recommend keeping things simple for your users!
We have a range of denominational logos for most of the established churches in the UK. These can appear in the header bar next to the name of your church. If you don’t belong to one of these groups then you can opt not to show a logo, or you can provide your own.
You can upload your own photographs and display them individually or in galleries. Galleries are great for a collection of photographs, as they are displayed initially as small thumbnails, so you can see what’s in the collection, and then as full-screen images when you click on a thumbnail.
Photographs you upload get compressed and reduced in size such that the longest dimension is no more than 2048 pixels. This is lower resolution than a digital camera will produce but a good size for web display, even with high resolution screens and it reduces the stored size considerably.
Videos do not get compressed and would quickly consume most of your space allocation, so we don’t allow them to be uploaded. However you can upload videos to a free video sharing website such as YouTube, Vimeo or DailyMotion, and just paste a link into your web page. This will embed the remote video so that it still appears on your page, but is actually stored remotely.
You can upload PDF files and most Microsoft Office documents to your site. They won’t be displayed directly, but you can create a link to the file so the document can be downloaded and viewed separately by clicking the link. This is useful for formal documents which are viewed less frequently, such as reports or application forms.
If you use a Google Calendar, it is possible to embed that on the website to show events. When you add an event to your Google Calendar it will also appear on the website.
Restricted areas are not always as straightforward as one might think and we recommend only putting things on your website which are suitable for public access.
Whilst WordPress does provide the option to password protect individual pages, you have to remember to protect each page individually (and with the same password, unless you want your site visitors to type a different password for each of the pages). Also it is only the pages themselves which are protected. If you provide a link to a separate document, such as an address list, that document will not be separately protected so anyone who finds out the web address for that document can download it.
We would strongly advise against putting a membership list online, even on a password-protected page, as it only offers a very low level of security. Under data protection regulations, and especially the more recent GDPR, you have a duty of care to your members for the safety of their personal data. A list of members names might be considered acceptable, but a list of phone numbers and email addresses almost certainly would not.
It is of course possible to have individual user logins, but that is not something we provide with this service and if you really need that feature, you should consider looking at some of the more comprehensive packages available to churches.
We can provide you with an individual login to your own site so you can update it yourself. You will be asked to choose a password, which must be a secure one and not the name of your dog. We have a separate page with advice on passwords.
All our sites can use the churchsite domain name for free, e.g. churchsite.co.uk/stmaryabergavenny.
If you would prefer to use your own domain name, or if you already have one, then we can use that instead. You will have to pay a domain name registrar separately for this – typically it will cost you £8-15/year, although prices can vary quite a lot. When you are ready to make the new site go live, we will ask you to change the name servers for your domain name. You can do that yourself or ask your domain registrar to do it for you. Contact us if you are unsure.
It is very important that you keep your domain name renewed every year. If you would prefer us to do that on your behalf then we can do so for a small annual fee. This will cost a little more than doing it yourself, but we will ensure that the renewal takes place each year and include it in the annual invoice.
Our domain names page has more information.
We are not able to provide separate mailbox facilities, but we can offer email forwarding from a generic address to a private email address, or you can simply create a separate church account using one of the free services available, e.g. email@example.com. This keeps everything separate from your private email account and also means that you can pass on the entire account to the next church secretary when the job changes hands.
There is more information on the different methods on our email page.
Normally we recommend using a separate website for each church. However there are some instances where several churches might be covered by a single site.
- In more rural areas where there is a group of churches, each with a small congregation, and most of the information remains the same from week to week. This works well when there is one person maintaining the website for the whole group. You might have a single page for each church, and one or more pages for the ministry team members.
- A Churches Together umbrella website for a community, providing information about a group of churches, perhaps of different denominations, working together. Some of these may have their own websites, but the group website underlines the working relationship.
As this is a single website, the header at the top of the page will be the same for all pages, so it needs to reflect the name of the group, not an individual church. The same applies to denominational logos if you use them, so for a multi-denominational site you would probably opt not to use a logo, or provide your own logo representing the group.
Your user login gives you access to the individual pages for all churches in the site, not just your own church. For churches which want to make regular updates to their site content, an individual church site would be better.
It is possible to combine these two models, with a group site for a Ministry Area and individual church sites for the more active churches in the area to update their own pages.