In this article, I’m going to give you an in-depth look and initial review of the Nucleus church website builder. I’ll show you the back-end user interface, a walkthrough of how I built the website for our church plant, and finally, I’ll give my honest opinion on whether or not Nucleus is a better solution for churches versus other popular builders like Wordpress, Squarespace, and Wix. Keep reading, and by the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea if Nucleus is right for your church.
The ultimate video guide to building a church website with Squarespace.
Zero web design experience required.
Welcome to the most thorough online course on church web design you will ever find on the web. I've spent countless hours filming this click-by-click tutorial so that anyone can build a beautiful and effective church website regardless of their web design experience. All you need is a laptop or desktop and a solid internet connection. No coding knowledge or experience required.
It is my strong conviction that 21st-century church leaders must understand how to build and maintain a website. Web design is no longer a niche skill for nerds who understand complicated coding. It's a fundamental aspect of modern communication. Your church website is the hub of your church's online presence. As a brick and mortar institution, your website will be the first interaction potential visitors have with your church before they bother visiting on a Sunday. For folks who are regulars at your church, your church website will be the place they go for relevant content and information regarding church life. Websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for churches in the 21st century.
I'm on a mission to rid the internet of lousy church websites. Sadly, the church generally lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to best practices in marketing. A lot of pastors shove the idea of marketing aside as too "worldly" because of its business-like nature. The fact of the matter is, marketing is about catching peoples attention and guiding them toward a goal or solution that will help them. For businesses, that means grabbing the attention of potential customers to influence them toward buying. In the church, our hope is to influence such a ways as to lead them to Christ. Sharing the gospel is marketing. The church has the most important marketing job in human history because we have the ultimate "product." Yet for some reason, pastors are complacent about their church's marketing approach and efforts.
In no other time in history has it been this easy to reach millions or billions of people with the gospel through online platforms. Whether we as church leaders like it or not, that's where people are spending all their time now. All of their attention is on the super computer that fits in their pocket. One of the most fundamental steps of engaging with an audience is having a place to call "home" online that is not controlled by the algorithms of social media. That's why your church website is so important. That's why it needs to be awesome.
If you are looking to build a new church website for your church plant, or maybe you want to completely redesign your existing church website, this free course is for you. In it, I will show you how to build a church website from scratch using Squarespace. I would argue that Squarespace is the best web design platform for churches, regardless of size. I know of many mega churches with mega budgets who have blown mega dollars on having a web design agency design their website. The user experience of these sites are horrible and I cannot imagine how many potential visitors these churches are mission out on because whoever designed them cared more about what looks cool rather than user experience best practices. I have 110% confidence that any church leader can build an amazing and effective website his or herself by following the steps outlined in this course. In it, I apply all of the best practices of web design to a local church context. Follow the steps outlined in this video and you will see an increase of first-time visitors at your church. When potentials visitors search Google for churches in your town, you will begin ranking toward the top of organic search results.
What are your waiting for? Let's get your new Squarespace website up and running in just a few minutes. Below I have outlined the different sections for quick navigation. Simply click the timecode links and they will bring you to the corresponding sections of the video.
Course outline And quick links
0:18 - Meet Jake! As well as the benefits of this course
3:00 - Course Overview
4:30 - Deer Creek Church: A Case Study
7:36 - Design Philosophy
11:23 - Examples of famous churches and their websites
13:19 - The website as an evangelistic tool
13:41 - Branding Content- Logos, Fonts, and Color Palette
17:21 - Professional Photos and Video on a Budget
21:28 - Stock Photography Resources
23:28 - Site Map
24:26 - Let’s do this!
24:55 - Select a template and sign up for a Squarespace account
26:36- How to login and logout of your Squarespace website
27:35 - Create a custom Squarespace domain
29:20 - Editing “General” Settings
31:36 - Editing “Website” Settings
34:43 - Website Logo and Title
36:25 - Introduction to the Style Editor
45:25 - Understanding Navigation
47:05 - Adding and Deleting Pages
47:56 - Deleting Demo Pages
49:47 - Creating Pages and Basic Site Navigation
55:18 - Adding a Banner Image and Video
58:50 - Adding a banner headline and Call to Action
1:04:35 - Worship times and location
1:11:41 - Purpose and Design Approach of the Plan a Visit page
1:12:18 - Building the Plan a Visit Page
1:29:14 - Leadership
1:37:17 - Beliefs
1:39:30 - Contact
1:48:21 - Ministries Page
1:51:38 - Serve Page
1:54:32 - Life Groups Page
1:57:44 - Hosting your sermon audio with Soundcloud
2:05:21 - Creating a Sermon podcast on iTunes
2:13:32 - Creating a Sermon podcast on Google Play
2:17:14 - Events Page
2:20:52 - Giving Page
2:24:24 - Cover Pages
2:31:47 - Upgrading your billing plan
2:33:00 - Link your primary domain
2:35:00 - Squarespace Support
2:36:03 - Optimize URL settings
2:37:13 - Announcement Bar
2:39:06 - Third-party Squarespace plugins
Would you believe me if said you can build a brand new church website in less than five minutes? In a few moments, that is what I want to show you. Of course it is not going to be a complete church website, but it will be functional. I have built dozens of websites using Squarespace. It is the best website builder for churches because of it’s ease of use, beautiful design, and low cost. I want to show you how quick and easy it is to start building your own website with Squarespace. All you need is a laptop or desktop and a solid internet connection. Here are 3 steps to building your church website in less than 5 minutes.
Step 1 - Go to squarespace.com and select your website template
Find a desktop or laptop computer. Go to squarespace.com and click the “get started” button. Here you can browse a list of template options for your websites. The best templates for church websites are Bedford or Hayden. Select your template and follow the steps to setup your free Squarespace account. In less than a minute you have a fully functioning site. There is a lot of customization work to be done, but at this point, the site could go live if you enable your Squarespace subscription. It is insane how easy and quick it is to do this.
Step 2 - Create your custom Squarespace domain
Before you start customizing your site, create a custom Squarespace domain, so you have a memorable url to navigate to while building your new site. Click “settings,” “domains,” and customize your built-in domain by replacing the auto-generated name with your church name. To log out of your site, navigate to your account profile and select log out. To log back into your site, navigate to your custom Squarespace domain and press the escape key.
Step 3 - Customize your website
By now you are beginning to learn how easy it is to work within Squarespace. On the left side of the window, you can add or delete pages, change the graphic design, and customize other settings. I recommend spending a few minutes watching tutorial videos at support.squarespace.com. There you will the learn the basics of how the website builder works. Try uploading your church logo to the new site by selecting “design” then “title and logo.” Next, delete all of the demo pages you won’t be needing by navigating to pages and selecting the trash can icon. Add a custom banner image and a headline to your home page. Finally, underneath the banner add your service times and a map of your church.
What you've seen in this brief demonstration is why I love Squarespace. I did not have to know any code, and it took just a few minutes to get the basics of church website up and running. Realistically it takes a day or two to input all of the relevant content into your new website and have it be fully functioning, but there is no need to hire a professional web designer or developer to do this. Do not underestimate your ability to build and maintain a website. What is keeping you from building your new church website with Squarespace? What questions do you have about creating a church website? Let me know in the comments below.
A few years ago, building a website meant finding and hiring a professional web developer to get the job done. It could cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and making any changes or updates to the site construction would be burdensome and costly. If you were in the market to build a new website for your church, then this was intimidating and frustrating.
Today in 2017, things are a lot different. Website builders have come a long way. Building your own website has never been easier. No longer does your church need to lay down a huge chunk of cash and wait months for a new outsourced website. Now you can have a new website up and running in less than 10 minutes.
My number one recommendation for building a church website is Squarespace. I have been designing websites with Squarespace for over 5 years. I am continually blown away with how easy they make it to create a professional website that meets all of the latest design trends. A lot of website builder companies have come and gone. There are even companies dedicated to being website builders for the church. Unfortunately, their features pale in comparison to Squarespace. Over the past decade, Squarespace has proven itself as a business and dominates the website builder market. Here are 5 reasons why it is the best website builder for your church.
Reason #1 - Easy to use
I personally feel that every pastor needs to understand basic web design. It’s the modern day version of the printing press. If you consider yourself a communicator, you must understand how to build and maintain a website. Squarespace is perfect for this because you do not need to learn how to code. It is so intuitive that you could just learn as you go or simply spend a few minutes watching some basic tutorial videos. I always like to say, if you have the capability of logging into Gmail to check your email or Facebook to make a status update, then you have all the technical capability you need to build a website with Squarespace.
Reason #2 - Beautiful design
Squarespace dominates the website builder world when it comes to beautiful templates that meet all of the latest design trends. You never have to worry about whether or not your website is out of date because Squarespace does all the hard work to keep things fresh. They are regularly coming out with new templates and refining older ones. If you decide to update your template to a whole new look within Squarespace, it takes only a few minutes to accomplish.
Reason #3 - Automatic Mobile Optimization
All of Squarespace’s templates come with mobile optimization built in. You do not need to edit a separate version of your website in mobile. I would even argue that having a website on Squarespace completely eliminates the need for a church app since the user experience of Squarespace in mobile is better than most apps.
Reason #4 - Easy integration with ministry tools
If you need online giving, event registration, other forms on your website, Squarespace makes it extremely easy to do, especially if you use church management software like Planning Center. If you need to host sermons on your website, embedding your sermon podcast player or video player takes seconds.
Reason #5 - Low Cost
Churches should not skimp on their digital communications budget, but the reality is cost is always a factor. With Squarespace you have the most powerful website builder at an insanely low cost. Depending on the size of your site, a month-to-month subscription costs only $16-$26 a month. You do not pay any large setup fees and you can cancel at any time. If your church cannot afford that, you have some bigger issues to deal with.
I could go on about why Squarespace is the best website builder for your church, regardless of size. I have seen too many churches both large and small waste thousands of dollars outsourcing web development and ending up with sites that may look cool but they have terrible user experience. Do not waste your time and your church’s money. Build your church website using Squarespace.
P.S - This is not a paid endorsement of Squarespace. I am just passionate about churches making the right choice with their online communications.
I’ve spent the past 5 years as a worship leader in various small to mid-sized churches. Like a lot of creative types in the church, I have often ended up being the guy in charge of church communications, including the website. Thus, after designing numerous church websites, observing the web design trends of growing churches, and designing websites for other industries and businesses, I've compiled the following list of the most common mistakes committed by church websites. As you read, consider how these mistakes might manifest on your church website and maybe even be open to making some changes.
Mistake # 1 - Information overload
Hello, and welcome to the age of SnapChat, Instagram, and the Facebook news feed. We have entered an era where the human attention span is less than a goldfish. People do not take the time to read paragraphs worth of text on your website. It's time to stop putting them there.
Mistake #2 - Home page sliders
It’s not 2005 anymore. Stop using photo sliders on your home page. They do not work. If you want the data to prove it, just check out this article.
Mistake #3 - “Our church is amazing”
The copy of your website should not be self-promoting. When visitors land on your home page they want to know in a couple seconds how you can help them. They do not care about eloquent mission statements that make your church sound epic. They want to know if you can help them find life, community, purpose, a second-chance, etc. Do not position yourself as the hero who has come to save the day. Instead let visitors know how you can guide them through their relationship with God and others.
Mistake #4 - The “Give” call-to-action
Imagine having greeters stand at your church’s front door on Sunday with the offering baskets and asking people to give to the church on their way inside. Super welcoming, right!? As ridiculous as that sounds, that is what so many churches are doing on their website when they make “Give” the primary call to action. It should be easy to find, but do not place it in the upper right corner or in the middle of the banner image. There are other effective and more welcoming call to actions to put in those places.
Mistake #5 - Newsletter sign-up forms
No one is going to sign up for your church newsletter. It's possible you'd get one sign up a month or so, but it’s just a waste of space. Find a creative way to have people opt-in to your church email list, such as providing them with a 7-day devotional in exchange for their email address. That way you have their email when it comes to time to share important content or church-wide opportunities.
Here's the good news,
There's grace for your web design mistakes
I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, I'm just super passionate about churches getting their website right. The world of online marketing continues to evolve and the church needs to keep up if we want to effectively reach more people.
Are there any other web design mistakes you’ve seen churches make? Let me know in the comments.