Here’s How Much Money ($$$) A Church Should Spend On A Website

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At the age of 26, I've already spent more time building websites than most people will in their lifetime.

Perhaps more importantly, I've spent more money paying others to build websites for me than most churches will in their lifetimes.

Heck, over the past two years alone I've spent close to $1,000,000 of my own money on website design and development costs.

Sadly, far too much of that time and money has been wasted.

I've spent close to $1M of my own money on web design over the last two years. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did.

What does this mean for you?

Simply put, I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did.

And so I'm going to share with you everything I know about the cost of building a church website (the obvious costs and the not-so-obvious costs).

Keep reading…

Free Checklist: Click here to gain access to The Church Website Spending Checklist revealing 7 truths to help guide you in your church website buying decisions

Bottom line: Churches spend far too little on their websites

I firmly believe that your church's website is the single most important marketing tool your church has at its disposal.

Your church's website is the frontline for your entire ministry.

It's where first impressions are formed. It's where your church gets discovered. It's your most important marketing tool. It's where new visitors are introduced to you. It's where existing members can find the information they need. And it's one of the few platforms your church has (if not the only) that is always accessible, by anyone, day and night, 24/7/365.

And yet, too many churches place too little importance on their website.

So let me ask you this question, how important to you is your church's first impression? Could you put a price on it?

Because here's the thing…nowadays, your church's first impression isn't being made in person on a Sunday morning, it's being made online.

Take a look at the following statistics:

  • 97% of consumers search for local organizations online1
  • 89% of surveyed participants admitted to searching for a local business on their smartphone once a week or more with 58% searching at least daily2
  • It only takes about 50 milliseconds (that's 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website – and thus, form an opinion about your church3

Simply stated, when your church is being discovered, it's being discovered online. People are forming opinions and first impressions about your ministry in mere seconds based on your website.

This singular reason is what makes the quality of your church's website so critical.

Bottom line: Churches need to begin spending more money on their websites.

But here's the kicker…just because you spend more money, doesn't mean your website will actually look better.

Higher costs don't necessarily equal better designs

Take a look at the two websites below.

One of these websites cost $100,000 to build. The other cost $36 to build. Do you know which one is which?

One of these websites cost $100,000. The other cost $36. Can you tell which is which?

One of these websites cost $100,000. The other cost $36. Can you tell which is which?

Frankly, both of these websites look great. The design of each is top-notch. And yet, one of these websites cost ~3000X more money than the other.

As it turns out, to the outside observer, it's often very difficult to judge how much a website cost simply based on the design.

Answer: The website on the left is a stock video platform called Storytape – it cost $100,000 to build. The website on the right is a template from Squarespace.

To make a point, whether you spend $10,000+ with an agency or $19/month on a template, quality web design is attainable at any price.

And this is one of the reasons churches get easily confused when trying to determine how much money should be spent on their website.

Many pastors and church leaders think, “If quality design is available at even the lowest prices…why spend more?”

But that's just part of the story…

Because in my experience, there are three different tiers when it comes to building a church website. Each has its own pros and cons. Each has its own price.

Let's take a look at each of the three pricing tiers.

Whether you spend $10,000+ with an agency or $19/month on a template, quality web design is attainable at any price

Whether you spend $10,000+ with an agency or $19/month on a template, quality web design is attainable at any price

Tier #1: Themes & Templates – $10/month-$99/month

When it comes to up-front affordability, it's hard to beat themes and templates. And there are a number of different platforms that will allow you use pre-made themes and templates.

In this tier, you'll find WordPress to be the most popular. Simply purchase a theme from a marketplace like ThemeForest for ~$50, sign up with a reliable hosting provider like Flywheel for an additional ~$15/month, and you're good to go!

Of course, if you need something even more turnkey, look to all-in-one platforms like Squarespace, Weebly, or Wix. For a monthly rate of $10-$50, platforms like these will hook you up with a theme, hosting, and potentially even a domain – all-in-one!

On the other hand, while themes and templates offer the most up-front affordability, they often come with added costs down the road.

What happens when a third-party WordPress plugin bricks your site? Or what happens when the theme you purchased isn't nearly as cracked up as you thought it would be and you have to start over? I, myself, have spent thousands of dollars on WordPress themes because of this very reason.

Themes and templates offer the most up-front affordability, but they often come with added costs down the road

Meanwhile, who is going to maintain the website? WordPress is a wildly powerful and customizable platform, but with it comes significant complexity. You've got to purchase a domain, and then hook it up to hosting, install WordPress, then install your theme, then update WordPress every month or so, etc.

Turnkey solutions can be just as frustrating. Platforms like Squarespace aren't built for churches. And I've seen too many churches sign up for Squarespace with great intentions, only to find it lacking in features they need, and then they wind up building an app that costs an arm and a leg to do the job their website should have done to begin with.

Again, up-front affordability can often cost you more in the long run.

Want to know the worst part? We did a case study that looked at more than 1,000 church websites – most of which were built with themes and templates – and guess what? 96% of the church websites we surveyed failed the first impression test.

96% of church websites make bad first impressions.

Up-front affordability comes at a cost.

Tier #1 Pros:
  • Up-front affordability
  • Tens of thousands of themes to choose from
  • All-in-one solutions like Squarespace can offer you a theme, hosting, and domain through a single monthly subscription
  • Platforms like WordPress and Webflow offer plenty of features and customization options
Tier #1 Cons:
  • Hidden costs (up-front affordability usually means added, unexpected costs down the road)
  • All-in-one solutions aren't built for churches and often lack important features that churches need
  • Platforms like WordPress and Webflow are complex and intimidating to the average church staff member
  • 96% of church websites we reviewed failed the first impression test

Free Checklist: Click here to gain access to The Church Website Spending Checklist revealing 7 truths to help guide you in your church website buying decisions

Tier #2: Custom Website – $10,000-$100,000

Custom websites developed by agencies or freelancers will open up a whole new world of possibilities for your church – but it won't be cheap.

Frankly, for most churches, the cost is prohibitive.

The first website I built with an agency cost $5,000. The second cost $25,000. The third cost $100,000. The fourth cost $1,000,000.

(maybe I should stop building websites…)

Seriously though, agencies and freelancers that build websites can be great for your church because your website can be tailored specifically to you, plus you won't have to worry about doing all the work!

But here's the kicker: finding the right agency for your church can be a daunting task.

In my experience, it took me four different projects, over three years, and with more than $1M spent to find an agency that I was excited to commit to long-term.

Sure, you can read client testimonials, you can browse portfolios, you can interview agencies and get your questions answered one-on-one, but nothing compares to actually signing on the dotted line and working on a project together.

Finding the right agency for your church can be a daunting task

Finding the right agency for your church can be a daunting task

Let's talk about price for a moment…

You might be wondering, “Brady, why did you start this tier at $10,000? Don't freelancers build websites for less? $1,000? $3,000? 5,000?”

Yes. Absolutely they do.

But I've found that, in general, if your web designer offers you a price of less than $10,000 for the project…proceed with caution.

If a web designer quotes you a custom church website for less than $10,000…proceed with caution

Here's why:

If your website designer is quoting you $1,000-$3,000, you're almost certainly not getting a custom website. You're getting a theme that will be customized. This is very different. Remember, you could customize a theme yourself (just head back to tier #1).

Beyond that, if your website designer is quoting you between $5,000-$10,000, he/she may build you a custom site (though it will probably still be a theme), but this site will likely lack a strong brand strategy behind it.

Bottom line: In my experience, if an agency quotes you less than $10,000 for a custom website, the website either isn't really custom or if it is, the brand strategy accompanying the build will be lacking and potentially derail the entire project.

Remember that case study I mentioned earlier?

We reviewed more than 1,000 church websites and found that 96% failed the first impression test. I can guarantee you that dozens of custom websites costing less than $10,000 were in that case study. Dozens of churches paid thousands of dollars for websites that couldn't even pass the most elementary of tests.

Tier #2 Pros:

  • A new world of advanced features and customizations
  • You and your church staff aren't burdened with doing the work

Tier #2 Cons:

  • Cost is prohibitive for most churches
  • If you're spending less than $10,000 on a tier #2 website…run away; you may as well drop down to tier #1
  • Finding and fostering a great client/contractor relationship is difficult – it took me three years and more than $1M spent on agency work to find an agency I was thrilled to commit to long-term
  • 96% of church websites we reviewed failed the first impression test – this case study included custom websites that churches spent thousands of dollars to build

Tier #3: Nucleus – $79/month-$159/month

Nucleus is the alternative option for churches. In a world of generic themes and expensive agencies, Nucleus is the all-in-one turnkey solution built specifically for churches – and it comes with a ton of advanced features that you'd normally have to pay thousands of dollars for to develop them yourself.

Now, with that being said, Nucleus isn't the perfect solution for every church. For example, if you already have an individual on staff that understands a complex platform like WordPress – that could wind up being a more cost-effective solution for you. Or if you have the budget to drop $10,000+ on a custom build – I highly recommend that route!

But for the rest of us…here's what makes Nucleus special:

Nucleus was created so that any leader or pastor in your church can build a stunning website from scratch in mere minutes. One feature of Nucleus that makes this possible is our single-click templates.

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With just a single click, you can instantly build an entire page on your website. A couple of our most popular page templates include: Plan A Visit, I'm New, and Message Notes. Dozens of pre-made page templates already exist – and we're always adding more.

Nucleus is the all-in-one turnkey solution built specifically for churches – and it comes with a ton of advanced features

Nucleus also comes with a series of advanced features that would normally cost thousands of dollars if you tried to build them on your own. These are the types of features that you won't find with themes and templates because they're specific to the ministry of churches.

For example, giving and payment collection is built directly into your Nucleus. Instead of using another platform for giving or redirecting your website users to a completely different page (and thus, forcing them to leave your website), giving and payment collection is woven into the fabric of Nucleus already.

Beyond that, Nucleus also integrates with your favorite ChMS platforms like Planning Center. We also integrate with other communication platforms that churches rely on like MailChimp.

Finally, and most importantly, the Nucleus framework has been particularly engineered to always make a great first impression.

When a family in your community is looking for a church and lands on your Nucleus, they'll always be delighted with what they find and the information most important to them will always be easily accessible.

Those are just a couple of my favorite features and capabilities of Nucleus. Of course, there's so much more. To learn more about Nucleus and see the full list of features and possibilities, click here.

Tier #3 Pros:

  • Nucleus is specifically engineered to make a great first impression every time a new visitor lands on your church's website
  • Easy enough for every church leader and pastor to use
  • Build entire web pages instantly with our one-click pre-made templates (Examples: Plan A Visit, I'm New, Message Notes, etc.)
  • Giving and payment collection is built directly into Nucleus
  • Nucleus integrates with ChMS platforms like Planning Center and Church Community Builder
  • Nucleus integrates with communication platforms like MailChimp and Text In Church
  • There's lots more to say about Nucleus, just click here

Tier #3 Cons:

  • Slightly more expensive than buying a theme and doing all of the work yourself
  • Fewer features and capabilities than if you paid an agency $10,000+ to build you a website from scratch

Conclusion

Your church's website is your most important marketing tool. It's where first impressions are made.

In our case study of 1,000+ church websites, 96% of the sites we reviewed failed the first impression test.

Please, don't be one of these churches.

Every day people in your city and community are looking for a church they can call home. They're looking for hope. And when they stumble upon your website, you only have a brief couple of seconds to make a great first impression…so make sure to make it count.

The final thing I want to leave with you is this: The vast majority of churches underspend on their websites. Most churches don't realize just how important their website truly is.

Whatever option you choose for your church's website, be willing to spend to make it great. It's the most important outreach tool your church possesses.

Free Checklist: Click here to gain access to The Church Website Spending Checklist revealing 7 truths to help guide you in your church website buying decisions