What are the best CMS solutions for church websites? There are content management system (CMS) platforms that provide free solutions for building professional-looking websites. These options include WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, Joomla, and Drupal. Each platform provides its own set of pros and cons. Wix and SquareSpace are essentially website builders with streamlined, drag-and-drop interfaces. Joomla and Drupal provide more customization options, but they come with a steeper learning curve. WordPress provides the most complete CMS solution. There are over 45,000 WordPress plugins and thousands of themes, allowing users to create any type of website and customize it to their liking.
WordPress Is the Top Choice for CMS Platforms
WordPress is the most used platform for all types of web design. From small businesses to bloggers to churches, this platform includes features that should appeal to almost everyone. WordPress offers two different options for setting up your website. You can either use WordPress.org or WordPress.com.
WordPress.com provides free website hosting and limited access to the thousands of plugins created for the WordPress platform. By upgrading your account, you can get increased storage and access to more plugins and themes.
The main advantage of WordPress.com is the price. A basic account is free and provides a simple option for quickly setting up a website. However, if you want more customization options and access to more plugins and themes, WordPress.org is the preferred choice.
WordPress.org is the standard WordPress platform. The WordPress platform is completely free. However, you do need a web hosting account to host your website and a domain name.
You can manually download the latest WordPress release, upload it to your hosting provider, and install it. Due to the popularity of WordPress, many web hosts now include one-click installs for WordPress, making it even easier to set up this CMS platform.
With WordPress, you can choose from thousands of free and premium themes. There are also many plugins that add more functionality to your website.
Whether you use WordPress.com or WordPress.org, you do not need any previous web design experience. The interface is easy to use, and there is plenty of documentation to help you with any issues that you may experience.
WordPress maintains a large forum with helpful tips, tutorials, and advice on building a website with this CMS platform. There are also hundreds of independent websites dedicated to troubleshooting issues with WordPress.
Keep in mind that WordPress.com is not a complete CMS solution. It does not include some of the advanced options found on the standard WordPress platform. With regular WordPress, you can add forums to your site and create and manage users. It provides the flexibility needed to appeal to a wide audience.
While there are other options, WordPress is the go-to solution for building a website. Within a few hours of installing the platform, you can have a basic website up and running.
You also have many customization options. Many of the free and premium WordPress themes allow you to easily change fonts, color schemes and add custom backgrounds or headers. These options are a little more restricted when using other CMS platforms.
With WordPress, you have an endless supply of options for making your website into a truly original online representation of your church. The various plugins include options that can make your life easier.
There are plugins for adding online forms so that you can collect email addresses for an email newsletter. There are also plugins for improving the search engine optimization on your site. Several developers create plugins designed specifically for churches, such as the Church Content plugin that provides custom types of posts.
There are just two potential issues with using WordPress to create your website. It up to you or your administrator to ensure that the various plugins, the theme, and the WordPress installation are up to date.
Whenever WordPress discovers a security flaw, they update their platform. You receive notifications about these updates. However, they are not automatically applied. You need to update your WordPress installation, themes, and plugins when new updates are released to maintain the security of your website.
The other potential issue is that you have so many plugins and themes to choose from that you may become overwhelmed. The variety and flexibility provided by WordPress is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Due to the variety of options, some plugins and themes are mediocre or poorly coded, resulting in slower page loading speeds or other performance issues. However, there are still thousands of quality plugins and themes designed by experienced developers.
Wix and SquareSpace Offer Affordable Options
Wix and SquareSpace are two other popular options. Like WordPress.com, they are essentially website-builders and lack some of the features provided by a complete CMS platform. However, these website builders are incredibly easy to use.
In fact, some people may find the interfaces a little bit easier to navigate and understand compared to WordPress.
Wix simplifies the process of setting up a website. It includes hosting, website templates, and widgets in one spot. You do not need to buy a domain name, sign up for a hosting account, and upload the platform to your account.
Wix also provides a clean, simple dashboard and a drag-and-drop website editor. You can choose from a variety of templates and drag and drop elements on the page.
The one drawback to this simplified website-building experience is that the drag-and-drop feature can add unnecessary code to your website, resulting in slower page loading speeds.
With Wix, you also have a limited number of templates compared to the themes offered on WordPress. Wix offers over 500 templates. All themes are customizable. However, many of them are not free.
While Wix provides fewer templates compared to WordPress, most of these themes are professionally-designed. WordPress offers a combination of professionally-developed themes and themes designed by independent developers, resulting in a mixed bag of options.
Many organizations choose Wix due to the simple interface. You also get a guided setup that walks you through each step of the setup process. However, you get fewer designs, add-ons, and potentially slower web pages.
Wix offers a free user account along with a tiered membership plan. The least expensive plan starts at $11 per month and allows you to remove Wix ads from your free website.
SquareSpace shares many features with Wix. It is also more of a website builder than a true CMS platform. However, they do not provide free membership. You can use the free trial to test the platform, but the membership plans start at $12 per month.
SquareSpace provides a streamlined user interface, allowing you to customize your website from a single interface. You can insert custom CSS coding, change the layout and design, and control your SEO from one dashboard.
You can build a basic website with a professional design in just minutes. You do not need to buy a separate domain or web hosting. They are included in the cost of your membership.
The company also takes care of all maintenance, including updates. You do not need to worry about security issues or check for updates.
The drawbacks to using SquareSpace are the same drawbacks provided by Wix. You have less flexibility and customization options compared to WordPress. While you get fewer templates and add-ons to use on your site, you can still create a quality site in a short amount of time.
Weebly is another simple website builder platform and a close rival to Wix and SquareSpace. It provides a free option but requires your website to display Weebly ads. Like WordPress.com, you do not need to purchase a domain name or web hosting.
Everything is included with Weebly. However, they only offer a few dozen templates and several hundred add-ons. The customization options are also limited. The main benefit of this platform is that it is free and one of the easiest platforms to use.
Source: Church Leaders