Due to the ever-developing nature of the internet, styles and designs change rapidly. Just like clothing fashions, website themes and functionality switch and evolve at a dizzying pace. For a business that uses the web as a front-end for creating paying customers, this requires that they stay on the cutting edge, updating as soon as a fresh design or popular function becomes feasible.
For churches, however, the decision whether to update frequently or stay with a “tried and true” design is much less pressing. While a website is functionally a digital first impression to visitors, it’s not nearly as much of a factor for a church as it is for a business with paying customers. Yet, at the same time, it’s always a good idea to keep things fresh on your website, and that doesn’t necessarily require a revolutionary overhaul every year.
Also, don’t think that a “contemporary” design requires a “contemporary” church. Contemporary, after all, just means current. A new, up-to-date project design can really make your church stand out, but a well cared-for classic design can have the same impact, too. Your website is often the first thing that a potential visitor sees, so make sure to carefully consider the impression you’re making with your site.
When using a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal, there are hundreds or even thousands of theme options to choose from. Free themes are often the best option, because they provide sufficient functionality without a lot of weird configuration, but paid (premium) themes often offer options that free themes do not, though they require a bit more customization.
I previously wrote about Keeping things Fresh, and that’s an important part of maintaining a clean, welcoming, and informative website. Also mentioned previously was making the content the most important aspect. These must all be kept in mind as you choose which theme to go with for your church’s website. Also, if your current web developer isn’t using a mainstream CMS, consider asking for a refresh, or perhaps switching to a different provider. Hand-crafted or “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) sites built with solutions like DreamWeaver, RapidWeaver, Flux, or other client-side apps are difficult to update remotely, and typically require the web developer’s involvement every time a simple change needs to be made. CMS platforms are much more robust and user-friendly, and provide server-side editing capacity.
In closing, here are a few sites to check out for themes for WordPress websites. They aren’t affiliate links, just references for you.
Green Grunge – Not Responsive, Free
Church (Requires Omega theme) – Responsive, Free