[This is part 3 of the "Relaunching Your Church Website" series, click here to view all posts]
You might be tempted to skip this step in your relaunch process, you might say to yourself “Why does this matter, I already have a CMS”, but the real question is the right CMS for you?
When most churches launch or relaunch a website they make this step first but there is a reason that this is the 3rd part. But, If you don’t have a clear understanding of what your goal is and what the content strategy is you can’t decide what CMS (Content Management System) is best for you. Because when you start with the system you will soon figure out you are limited by its functionality or easy of use, which intern limits what you publish on it.
For example, our previous site iamMarked.com was built-in flash and did not have a CMS. So when we had staff changes or updates, it relied on me and me alone to open up flash, dig thru source code make a changes and upload a file. Not the most simplistic process in the world.
There are 100′s of different CMS’s to choose from so lets dig look and some simple ways to help you figure out what system is best for you. This is a starting point, if you want and in depth comparison of different CMS’s I would head over to Google for that one.
Hosted vs. Self-Hosted
A hosted CMS means you pay a monthly fee and they provide a web server, file storage and bandwidth for one flat rate. Normally the only thing you need to bring is your domain name, they monitor and take care off everything else.
Basically the opposite, you need to find a hosting company(like MediaTemple, HostGator, BlueHost ex.), then add / maintain your CMS. Usually, this involves more hands on work but the cost is significantly less. You CANNOT use every CMS in a Self-Hosted environment.
Built For the Church vs Built For Anyone
Built For The Church
These systems are made with your use in mind. Most come with events management, sermon players, blogging and even online giving. Now all of these systems fall into the hosted category and price varies between systems.
Here are just a few options:
Built For Anyone
Many times it take a more configuration to make these systems work, and can be much more complicated. But they can also provide more features, lower costs and a wider support community.
There are 2 types you will see Open Source and Closed Source. All of the “Built For The Church” solutions are closed source, meaning you can only use the system on their servers and you cannot add to or alter the source code of the CMS. Open source is often free (not always) and built by the community for the community. Many open-source CMS have huge user communities that make free plugins and themes. And all can be self hosted and most have hosted solutions as well. Below are just a few popular options, there are many more.
Closed Source CMS
How To Choose
These categories give you a good starting point to narrow down your selection but then you need to do your research and figure out which system best fits your end goal and needs. Because of the variables i discusses in part 1 and part 2, and because of how familiar I already was I choose to use WordPress. I love WordPress and think it is great but it might not be right for you, you might be better suited with a “Built For The Church” solution that has lots of support and all the features you need are built-in.
So I am not going to recommend any of these systems I am only going to give you some starting places so you can figure out what best fits you!
Have you used any other options or have any recommendations that are on the lists? Leave a comment below and help the community out!