squarespace

The Mobile Friendly Church Website

Will you do me a favor as you begin reading? Go to your church’s website on your mobile device and see how it performs. Is it easy to read? Is it easy to navigate? Is it mobile responsive (do you have to pinch and expand a lot… if so it’s not mobile responsive)? Are you quickly and easily able to find what you are looking for through the mobile site.

Will you do me another favor? Will you go to your Google Analytics account (I hope you have one) and check how much of your traffic is mobile?  My guess is that it is around 50%. If it is less than that it’s probably because you don’t have a very good website for mobile and mobile visitors aren’t returning.  

The bottom line to this is that your church’s website needs to be “mobile responsive.”  That means that it responds to the platform that it’s on whether a desktop, tablet, or desktop to deliver the optimal experience for that device. You likely don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to do that! Website developers do. If your website is not mobile responsive today you need to make this a top priority and either hire a developer to make it responsive or build you a responsive site or move to a platform like Squarespace or Wix that automatically makes all sites mobile responsive.  

Having a mobile responsive website will also optimize your Google ranking and provide so much value to your visitors.  Just having a mobile responsive site is not enough though. Your content must be optimized for a mobile user. You don’t want to be too wordy or have too many images that force too much scrolling. You also don’t want to have long forms that people will likely abandon if it requires too much information. Your site should be simple in nature communicating clearly and directly with simple calls to action.  

Likely, your visitors are coming to your site for 3 reasons: 
To visit your church/attend a service
Watch a sermon
Make a Donation

Test out these 3 things on your mobile device and see how easy it is to get this information/navigate an online donation. If it’s frustrating for you it will be frustrating for others.  Take time to visit some other church websites on your mobile and see how they communicate these things and how you might be able to learn from their website layout.  

The mobile trend won’t be slowing down anytime soon and you will likely need to begin thinking through how your website functions on a watch or tv as these various technologies and integrations continue to expand the world of mobile.

Why I Choose Squarespace for 90% of Websites I Build

If you take a look at several of the websites that I manage, you will see that I choose Squarespace the majority of the time.  Here are some of those sites:

NilsSmith.com
AmplifySocial.Media
TVApp.Church
SacredHolidays.com

You might notice that in many ways these sites look quite similar.  The truth is, Squarespace is much harder to customize than Wordpress, but if you are looking for a simple, clean, and functional website Squarespace is a great option.  My favorite part is how well all of their sites adapt to mobile platforms.  I’ve noticed that 60% of the traffic on all of the sites I manage comes from mobile devices, so it’s important that I look for these sites to function effectively on mobile first and then desktop. Our nature is to do just the opposite.  

Here are some of the features I have loved about Squarespace:

  • All in one management - of hosting, domain and email
  • Metrics mobile app - lets me constantly check the site analytics on the go
  • Simple management tools - it’s so easy to update and so hard to break!
  • Beautiful templates - I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bad looking Squarespace site
  • eCommerce integrations - the platform has seamless eCommerce integrations that makes selling things online so easy to manage
  • Forms - Squarespace forms look and function so great on all platforms
  • Affordable - a Squarespace site can be as inexpensive as $8/month which includes hosting.  it’s hard to beat that price point!

Have you tried Squarespace? If so, what do you like? If not, why not? Do you see any downsides to Squarespace?

 

Wordpress or Squarespace for your Church Website?

When it comes to church websites there are generally 2 primary options for websites: Squarespace or Wordpress. In the past there have been many other CMS (Content Management System) options built, but Squarespace and Wordpress have far surpassed all other options from my perspective. Here’s my perspective on both:

Squarespace is simple, flexible, beautiful and functional. Within Squarespace you can manage your domain, hosting, setup emails, and essentially have everything in one place. Just about anyone can build a Squarespace website in about an hour and have the site live and functional on the internet. Squarespace even makes it easy to setup simple PayPal donation forms within their management platform. The downside to Squarespace is that most Squarespace sites look the same and the customization options can be limiting.

Wordpress on the other hand, seemed to take over the internet about 8 years ago and has continued to grow tremendously since then. Wordpress offers a powerful and flexible CMS and with the thousands of Wordpress themes available churches can customize a website that is completely unique. The challenge to Wordpress is that you have to setup emails, domains, and hosting on separate platforms. You also must continue to upgrade your account and plugins which often can be susceptible to attacks from hackers.   

So, which should you choose? Well, if you are looking for a clean, simple website and you are not real picky then I strongly recommend Squarespace. If you are looking for a very customized website and you are willing to pay for custom development then Wordpress is a great option for you.  

In the coming days I will share why I choose both Wordpress and Squarespace for different sites that I manage/oversee. I would love to hear which you chose and why. If you chose to use neither I would also love to hear from you!

My Experience with Squarespace

I just renewed my website on Squarespace and it’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a years since I made the move from Wordpress.  I had been on Wordpress for 6 years and thought I was a lifer.  While 6 years on the internet is a long time for anything, I can’t believe how little I regret making the move.  Actually, I don’t think I have any regrets.  

Squarespace is not for every website, but I do believe that it can work for most websites out there.  If you’re looking for something exteremely unique and highly customizable Squarespace is not for you.  If you’re looking for something simple, flexible, and highly visual Squarespace will be a great solution.  Here are the features that I’ve come to love:

  • Simplicity – it is so easy to setup and make changes along the way that don’t impact the site as a whole (it’s hard to break)
  • Integrations – Squarespace has some great integrations for podcasting, e-commerce, domain management, etc.
  • All-In-One Solution – I love that on one site I can purchase and manage the domain, hosting, CMS and even email (through Gmail).  This makes it perfect for small businesses and organizations
  • Affordable – the all in one pricing is so affordable at just $7/month.  I’ve upgraded since getting started, but the basic package will work for most websites.
  • Mobile Apps – they offer several mobile apps to help you manage your site on the go.  I espectially like the Metrics App
  • Management – I now manage 7 different websites on Squarespace for myself and clients and I can do it with just 1 login and easily toggle.  I can also add other Admins on my site and limit their accessibility very easily. 

The list could go on, but needless to say I’m a happy Squarespace customer.  I would love to get your thoughts and feedback on Squarespace and answer any questions that you might have.  Here are some links to a few Squarespace sites that I own or support:

3 Months Into Squarespace

I'm about 3 months into my move to Squarespace and I have NO REGRETS!  I continue to use Wordpress on other projects and do not believe the Squarespace is the one solution for everything or everyone.  I do believe more than ever that it's the right solution for me at this time though.  Here's what I'm loving:

  1. The Design - while I could have found a great theme with a similar design it would have been quite complicated to setup for someone like me who's not a designer or a developer.
  2. The Simplicity - it couldn't be more easy to setup and update as well as the simplicity in creating new blog posts on the fly.  
  3. The Combination - everything is in one package from the domain and web hosting, the content management and even the analytics.  While not as complex as my combined services from Go Daddy, Network Solutions, Wordpress and Google Analytics; it is much easier to have it all in one place.  

I love to try new things and Squarespace has been something I've wanted to try for some time.  Most new things I try for a month and go back to my regular flow.  Squarespace is quite the opposite and something I will not only continue using, but plan to move several consulting clients to in the future.  What a great platform for about 90% of all website needs!

Any other Squarespace users out there?  What do you like or dislike?