Joanna: On today's episode we want to talk about platforms for building a website. There's lots of possibilities. James what do you think people should be looking for?

James: People should be looking for ease of usability and ultimately what's something that can work long-term and is adaptable.

James: The thing that's really remarkable about when we're talking about platforms is how much it's actually changed in the past five years. When I was in college I started learning like Javascript, HTML, CSS, and I was starting to code websites. When I was in school I actually managed to get a lady that was a wedding planner to hire me to build her a website and I was coding it from scratch. It took me maybe three or four weeks of solid work to code this website. And when I presented it to her... It was a disaster. She hated everything about it. And looking back on it it was bad. But the problem was when you code it from scratch it it's really hard to make changes that don't take a long time. And then what came along after that was it was a few years after when I was building a website for my little film company and I stumbled across Squarespace and I was like Oh man like this is a mind blowing. It Was a game changer. It was like I built my landing page it within 30 minutes. I had a website built within a week. I was proud of that work it had e-commerce built in and it things in my mind really shifted and I mean I think I even remember years ago mentioning Squarespace to you it talking about the church website and saying like Squarespace is such a great option like I know it originally had some sort of a bad rap because it was so new. And I mean they hadn't quite figured out like how they were going to be and things as a company.

Joanna: And Squarespace is basically a template building Website. So it's building a website for dummies without you need to know any coding or anything like that. And of course when Squarespace came out the concept was amazing. But maybe the usability wasn't there but now many years later Squarespace is a really robust platform for building websites. My own website is built on Squarespace. Actually our current churches website is built off of Squarespace. We used other platforms before but we've moved a Squarespace for a few different reasons so what is what we're talking about Squarespace.

James: And maybe Squarespace isnt only one, and Squarespace isn't the best.

Joanna: Yeah. What are some other ones?

James: There's always options that work for different people so I mean the most popular builder online is WordPress like you talked to any web guy and they will say WordPress hands down is the best. And you know what, it is. The problem with Wordpress is that it takes someone with knowledge and skill and experience to build on Wordpress.

Joanna: And so our previous church website was built off WordPress. And what we found was we didn't have the skill set in-house, in the church to do all the editing that we needed to do. We needed someone who could code. And so that's why we switched to a template based website. We happen to use Squarespace because we needed to be able to edit it ourselves. So what are some other platforms that you're seeing that churches are using that you're excited about?

James: So we did a little survey on our Facebook group, the visualmediachurch Facebook group. And I just asked like what are people built on? And I'm looking at a page right now and the number one is WordPress. So my guess what that is they've either hired someone out to build it. They either they've hired someone you know outside the church or there might be someone within the church who has skills with Wordpress who is either volunteering or charging very little to do it. And that is the number one platform online. And then second was Squarespace. It Is really great just because of the price and because of how easy it is to use and then some of the other ones that are definitely winners are the ChurchCo and they're built upon the WordPress platform but they do all the work for churches so they charge 25 or 50 bucks a month something crazy cheap and they basically build the whole type thing for you and do all the work. So it's companies like that which are the middle ground.

Joanna: And they know churches like they're targeted at that market where maybe some of the other platform sites compared to ChurchCo they just there what they're building for is like a shop online for clothing or something where this is specifically with churches in mind and tithing and children's registry.

James: Squarespace isn't built for churches. Squarespace and WordPress I'd say are two ends of the spectrum and it's something like the ChurchCo which uses WordPress is somewhere in the middle where it's like it's you you can they have the control to build something really cheap and really easy for you but you don't have to do all the work yourself. But it's also not crazy expensive. And that's that's the important thing when you're talking about platforms is just because it says twenty five dollars a month then how much time are you really putting into is as well as with Wordpress just because WordPress is the best. It also means that you're probably going to pay every month or every week to make updates so if you're having to pay a WordPress developer you know eight hours a week to do update. It's going to get really expensive really fast.

Joanna: So our next episode we're gonna talk about the price of websites and how much should churches be spending a week, a month, a year on websites. But for now I think the big idea that we're talking about is there are a lot of options that didn't used to exist for people to build websites based off of templates that don't require a person with a lot of computer coding expertise to do that small churches can have great looking websites because there are companies that are helping us do it like Squarespace and the ChurchCo.

James: Absolutely. The power is now in the user's hands. Now make it yourself. Maintain it yourself and build something that you can be proud of. That's gonna look great.

Joanna: Awesome. All right James where can people find you?

James: They can find me at visualmediachurch on Instagram. How about you Jo?

Joanna: Im at Joannelafleur.com Or at JoannaLaFleur on Instagram.

James: All right. On the next episode we're gonna be talking about what is the right price for a church website?