Meet the company who offer design for ChurchInsight websites
The Alpha USA used the ChurchInsight design team to custom build their website.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some help with the design of your website? To make it look original, or professional, or more reflective of your church community?
The great news is that there is a company who offer design services to help you do exactly that. They know ChurchInsight inside out, and can transform your site into a thing of beauty.
Not a lot of people realise that ChurchInsight don’t just create and support a church website platform – we design church websites too.
Our team are experienced in online and print design. They know the ChurchInsight platform better than anyone (it amazes me how fast they work) and can help with other church design projects too. They can transform your design in a number of ways, from a full custom design to small, separate projects.
Here are some of the headlines of our graphic design services. Which one would suit your church the best?
Complete, custom-designed websites
For a new website or your existing one – we can work with you to design exactly what you want your church site to look like. There are plenty of examples here of sites we’ve designed.
To find out more about our custom design service, email us to let us know what you’re thinking. Your church website will only look like all the others if you want it to!
Free pre-designed templates
If a custom design is going to be too big a project to handle at this stage, you can still give your website a fresh, professional look. Choose from our collection of pre-designed templates.
Most of them are completely free for new church websites. We can insert your logo or name for no extra charge. And the template is only the starting point – you can use the themes and settings to customise the template yourself, to make your church website unique.
If you already have a ChurchInsight website and want to change to a different template, we can help you to switch over with minimum fuss. Email us for a quotation. Compared to a full custom design, switching templates will save you a significant amount of website budget.
Small design projects
We also do small branding jobs like logos or design elements for websites. We provide design for print jobs like church welcome packs, adverts and banners. If you need it, we can design it.
Take a look at some of our previously designed sites for inspiration. We know how important good presentation is in the life of a church – and can help you to get your message across well.
To find out what ChurchInsight design services could do for your church, email us or call 0844 736 5298.
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Adam Johannes, 18/05/2012
A beginner's guide to herding cats
Managing a web design project in your church or charity
My friend, John, looked like he’d had a hard day at his printing business. “The problem is, Al, everyone thinks they’re a designer,” he commented with a rueful smile. And that’s one of the biggest challenges you’ll face coordinating a web design project.
We once had a project where the customer (a large organisation) did things backwards. They failed to involve all interested parties at the start before briefing us. We did the design and technical implementation work as requested. However, they then canvassed wide opinion about what approach would be best – including involving an external agency. We then had to make significant changes.
Then they involved internal management – we had to make more significant changes. Then they reviewed with the external agency again who suggested contradictory changes. At each stage the specification substantially changed and we ended up with – a third and fourth set of radical changes.
We eventually got a handle on it, but this proved to be unnecessarily expensive for the customer – and for us – because of lack of clarity on the customer's part regarding what was really required. There were too many people with varying opinions being involved in a process which was not managed well due to lack of experience.
Here are 12 top tips for heading up the web design process in your church or charity. Managing it well can mean you get your project up and running in good time and on budget – and your site communicates well. Failing to do so can mean unnecessary delays, uncomfortably spiraling costs and more.
Finally, you can get the best solution by taking the following approach: rather than committees producing camels, a practical plan is to have 1-3 people who are tasked with the design decision-making process. In an ideal scenario, one person in your website team should be sufficiently senior to make key decisions on behalf of the management team.
- You may have people with strong opinions in your team (surely not!) and if they might derail the process later on. Involve all such stakeholders, including anyone with ultimate decision making/veto authority early on. Continually take them with you in the process and keep them on board, otherwise late changes will incur unnecessary costs.
- Explain to your stakeholders which target audience the design is aimed at, such as “couples in their 30s with young children,” and thus why it looks the way it does. This is important if your stakeholders are guys in their 50s!
- Tell your stakeholders what design styles you want to echo and why – e.g. clean, sharp, French Connection or light airy, white, subtle, Apple etc – so that they understand your thinking.
- Say to them that you’re not asking the stakeholders if they like the design, but whether it will communicate well with the target audience.
- Explain that you've refined the design already if you've already been through that process.
- Don't let the wider team design by committee or you'll end up with the proverbial camel. I would suggest actually saying this as it helps people understand what you are and aren't asking them. Your website team is tasked with a job – present positively.
- If possible – and you want to involve the senior team in the decision making process – present a couple of options to the team and ask them which the think will communicate better, rather than if they like it.
- Remember, everyone thinks they're a designer – beware!
- Don't let the team start thinking out loud and designing that way – "Could we try this/that, how about..."
- If asked, explain that minor changes are possible, but major ones could have significant cost implications and you want to avoid that.
- Someone will have to make a decision about the design. Not everyone will like the end result, but that’s not the point.
- When presenting the finished site to the wider church or charity, explain the thinking behind the design approach, target audience and other considerations.
Take the advice above and you can avoid pain, stress, unnecessary expense, and end up with a web design that communicates well for your organisation.
Image: © cynoclub - Fotolia.com
Alistair Birch, 25/01/2012
Why I fell in love with Supergirl
Good-looking, legal images for your website
© ToddKuhns - Fotolia.com
I was a late developer. As an 8 year-old I couldn’t see the point of reading books.
Comics were a different matter – my dad used to bring me home boxes of American DC Comics from his secondhand bookshop, and so I devoured the adventures of Superman, Superboy and Batman, got a crush on Supergirl, and learnt to love reading without realising it.
I have to confess that the feelings nascent in my youthful breast towards the Big S’s blonde cousin had a lot to do with what she looked like. One thing which has stayed with me since those heady days of caped crusader adventures is how important the visual is to making an impact. Obviously, images are at the heart of successful comic books or graphic novels.
So often church website photos are weird, small or just poor quality. But many people first and foremost interact visually with the world around them, rather than through text, so that's why your website might only be making half the impact it could.
Now, you don’t need to employ a good-looking girl from the planet Krypton in a short blue dress and red boots to make an impression (although, hey, it could help), so where are you going to find great looking photos?
1) Search for images on Google or take images from other websites
Wrong! See this blog post as to why you’re likely to end up with a BIG legal bill.
2) Take your own photos
You could click away yourself – or even get a pro in to do the job for you, and this may be a good investment. Kingsgate Community Church in Peterborough and Winchester Family Church in, er – have a guess – both employed a professional snapper and it really shows. Note – if taking photos featuring children, ensure that parents are happy with these being used.
Tip: If you want a here’s all of us a big crowd photo, don’t do it if you’re fewer than 100 or so, as it invariably looks like you’re smaller in numbers than you really are. Also, take lots of shots and mix everyone up several times as you shoot – it can give options when you come to choose the final shot – someone’s bound to be pulling a face or child picking their nose and your Photoshop skills may not be up to editing that out.
I recently heard about one church who suggested people come for The Big Group Shot in their national costume – so one woman came dressed as Dr Who’s Tardis. This gave a certain unhelpful feel to the photo. Mixing everyone up meant they eventually got a picture with Lavinia Time-Travelling-Phone-Box well to the back.
3) Use royalty-free image libraries
These are websites which specialise in providing great quality legal images at very competitive prices. There are many but these are a good start:
Tips: Always check the conditions of use. You can also combine search items, for example 'girl blue flower' will produce images containing all three elements, such as a girl with a blue jacket holding a flower.
- dreamstime.com: Make sure you search with the RF (Royalty Free) option on if this is showing. Also, if using images in actual article content rather than a graphic design (e.g. a banner graphic), select the 'Editorial' option where this exists.
4) Find images available under the Creative Commons License
This one’s a bit more tricky, so we’ll cover it in another post, coming soon.
So, upgrade your website with great-looking images and increase it’s impact big-time – and you may not need Supergirl's help after all.
Need help working with images, such as sizing? Want more image library tips? Get them right now via our free webinar: All about images and how to transform your site.
Alistair Birch, 08/11/2011
‘Free’ photo for your website, sir? That’ll be £24,000 please...
A cautionary tale
You know how it is. You've just created that web page but as it’s just text, it looks about as exciting as something from the Inland Revenue/IRS’s website.
You know that images speak so much more than words, and more people are likely to see them than read your carefully-crafted prose.
You’re in a hurry - where can you get a zippy-looking picture to liven-up your web page?
“Why, verily, Google shall come to my rescue!” You cry, “Forsooth, they even givest me a goodly image search to maketh mine job easier. Done!”
Yea, verily wrong.
Every image on the Internet belongs to someone and you cannot use it without their express permission to do so (there are some exceptions to this, but that’s for another post). If you do, you’re breaking copyright law.
And bad things happen to people who break the law...
Many of the images on the Internet are owned by image libraries who make their money from charging for the use of such photos etc. One of the largest organisations which owns a number of these libraries is Getty Images.
AND, Getty now have special search technology which spiders out across the Internet, searching for instances of their images being used and checking them against a database of those who’ve paid to use their stuff (or not).
And they sue...
As London-based removals and haulage firm, JA Coles, found out to their cost: They used one of Getty’s images without permission (actually in good faith - their web designer simply used it as a postage stamp-sized, temporary, placeholder image, but it got forgotten) and suddenly found themselves in receipt of a rather frosty letter from Getty’s solicitors - It wasn’t an invitation to tea, but a demand for money related to illegal use of the image - they were after the missing fees and associated costs: £1,951/$2,927. Ouch!
Now, anyone who’s read Matthew 5 will know that the smart thing to do would have been to have settled out of court:
“Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.”
However, Messrs JA Coles, after taking poor advice, unwisely decided to simply remove the image and ignore Getty’s letter (wrong). Bad decision. Getty decided to sue them in the High Court and invited them to join them on a little visit to the scary Royal Courts of Justice, pictured above.
The folks at JA Coles now thought this maybe wasn’t such a great idea and decided to settle, rather than going before the beak. They had to cough up the £1,951 - but by now, because Getty had also hired barristers, their costs had gone through the roof - the whole thing cost Coles in excess of £24,000/$36,000! Grievous ouch!
Now, gentle reader, what’s the moral of this sorry tale?
You might think. “Oh, we’re only a little church, this doesn’t really apply to us. Who’s going to bother if we use the odd image from here and there.”
You’d be wrong. Very wrong again. You’d be £hundreds of pounds wrong.
I know of three of our church customers (and there may be others) whose unknowing illegal use of images was spotted by Getty’s image search technology and who received just such a letter as JA Coles. They both wisely settled out of court, but not before they’d paid very serious money which they could have used for much better purposes.
So, what’s a humble website editor to do?
1. Only utilise images which you have permission to use - see my next post for some great, legal sources of images for free or next to nothing. You can also use photos which have been taken for you or which you’ve taken yourself. NB Where these feature children in your church, might be worth checking with parents that they’re happy for the image to be used on the website.
2. Got anyone you’ve delegated editing permissions to on your website? Yes? Well, stand them up against a wall, slap them round the face and tell them the above tale - and that they’re footing the bill if you get a solicitor's letter! Resist any suggestion you’re being a party pooper; this is serious stuff - and action for illegal use of images is increasing.
3. Conduct a site image audit - do you have permission to use all the images on your site? Better to check now, rather than have to pay out a hefty fine or out of court settlement. Got your template from a third party? Might be worth checking with them. If anyone tells you they’ve got permission - don’t assume they’re correct; get them to prove it & explain how they got permission.
I recently queried a welcome mat image which had been added to our church website as I was 98% sure it was from an image library and wanted to ensure we had permission (I was also 100% sure it was naff, but that’s another issue). The new editor told me he’d got it from a university website in Florida! We had the stand-up-against-the-wall-slap-face chat and I told him to remove it ASAP. I checked a week later and found he’d left the image in place. What?!
On querying this, he told me, "It's fine, I've contacted the university department, and they’ve given me permission to use it.” Hmm. As I said, I was pretty sure this image was from a stock photo library and it took me only 10 mins to find it - the uni department did NOT have permission to grant use of the image; it didn’t belong to them! This would not have been an excuse in a court of law. Smoke was seen coming from the the editor’s fingers as he removed the photo!
So, make sure the images you use are legal - it's easy to get your hands on great-looking images for your church website AND do it legally for peanuts. Next time, I'll tell you how.
For more information on the JA Coles case, see the following:
http://www.out-law.com/page-9880 & http://www.out-law.com/page-10367 as well as the link on "£24,000" above.
Image: © Tony Baggett - Fotolia.com
Alistair Birch, 13/09/2011
3 Big website design mistakes many churches make #3
Chris is in a meeting of the team responsible for redesigning the church logo. He’s been encouraging the church to embrace a more modern approach to branding and communications. Things have gone well - so far...
Mary (Chair of the Communications Committee): Well, we’ve all had a chance to review the proposed new church logo designs from Acme Creative. What do we think? (there is a shifting of seats and an uncomfortable silence)
Chris: Er...I thought they were extremely good.
Mary: I’m not sure they quite say what we want to.
Chris: But they’re bright, modern, recognisable, distinctive - what’s not to like?
Steve: I’d like a bit more blue, to be honest...
Mary: For someone who’s so keen on communication, Chris, I’m surprised that you don’t want the logo to communicate anything! (polite laughter)
Chris: But the designs say so much - they very much reflect our values as a church. Logos aren’t supposed to...
Mary: Well, I feel the logo should really have a cross in it.
(For a very fleeting moment, Chris looks extremely puzzled)
Dave: Yes, that’s good - Jesus is, after all, at the heart of all we do. (chorus of murmured approval)
Chris: Well, that’s true, of course, but...
Dave: Perhaps a crown of thorns as well?
Tracey: And the Holy Spirit is very important too, you know. We want to properly represent the Trinity, so the logo should have a dove - but it mustn’t look like a pigeon; that really wouldn’t do.
Dave: But let’s not forget the Spirit’s power - a flame would show that - like at Pentecost.
Chris: Er, right, but on the other hand...
Mary: (warming to the theme) And the Bible - we have to have an open Bible - the Word is central to our church life and doctrine. We don’t want people thinking we just swing from the chandeliers! (more polite laughter.)
Chris: Mary, I don’t think there’s any danger of...
Steve: You know, I’ve always liked that Cobalt blue colour, ever since I was a boy....
Dave: I was reading a book the other day which said that we under-emphasise the Resurrection - it’s just so important. So we should really have a little empty tomb in the logo somewhere.
Mary: Oh yes, that’s good.
Chris: Er... (looks increasing concerned as if running to catch a bus which is rapidly accelerating away from him).
Tracey: You know, people and community are core values for us, so maybe we could have a group of people - not real ones, just something representational, of course..
Mary: Yes! Perhaps in a circle holding hands round the logo? And some could be worshipping with their hands raised and some could be praying - we must show people praying. (Mary looks very pleased with herself and how things are going).
Chris: I think we’re missing the point of what a logo is for; it’s not meant to... (unknowingly, he has started to grind his teeth).
Steve: Alternatively, I wouldn’t mind if it was a sort of French blue...
Mary: But Chris, the logo should say who we are and really communicate something of our message and what we stand for.
Chris: (desperately trying to rescue this) But, the primary purpose of a logo is simply to be distinctive and recognisable; it’s not supposed to preach a sermon, after all! (He laughs nervously, hoping this is obvious to the others. It is not...)
Mary: Oh, that’s ridiculous, we should use every opportunity get our message across. After all, the Apostle Paul said, that we should “by all means save some” - that surely includes the church logo! (She smiles broadly, the others go “Mmm” in agreement in that Christian, farmyard noisey, sort of way).
Chris: (Starting to slip into thinly-veiled irony) Well, I suppose you’ll be wanting angels too?
Mary: Now you’re getting it - that’s the spirit! However, I think that might be taking it a little too far; we don’t want the logo to look cluttered, do we.
Dave: Talking about our message, we should really include the phrase “John 3:16” too - after all, people will see the logo who aren’t Christians, and might look up the Bible verse and get saved!
Steve: Perhaps we could put that bit in blue?
Mary: That's a good point - and what about colours for the logo?
Dave: You know, when it comes to that, I don’t think you can beat the colours of the Tabernacle.
Dave: The colours of the Tabernacle - the portable place for meeting God in the book of Exodus.
Chris: Yes, I know what the Tabernacle is, but what’s that got to do with......
Tracey: Ah, yes, the blue, purple, and scarlet.
Steve: Oh good - blue.
Tracey: Now, those were truly inspired - direct from heaven! (a chuckle goes round the room).
Chris: I don’t quite see how...
Mary: After all, Chris, when the Lord was specifying the colours for the tabernacle, he didn’t choose orange and taupe, now did he! (Mary chuckles, self-satisfied).
Chris: Yes, but (Chris, open-mouthed, stares incredulously at Mary, then suddenly starts writing.)
Steve: Maybe it could be more of a sky blue?
Mary: Wonderful - that settles it. Well, Thanks everyone - it’s been a most productive meeting - I think we’ve cracked it. Chris, could you communicate the changes back to Acme Creative. Just to summarise, we want a cross, a crown of thorns, the empty tomb, an open Bible, a dove, a flame, a group of people - some holding hands, some praying and some worshipping - and the phrase “John 3:16” - all in blue, purple, and scarlet. Have you got that?
Chris: Oh yes. Absolutely. And this is for you, Mary.
Mary: Oh. What is it?
Chris: My resignation. I considered drawing a cross, a Bible and even basketful of puppies on the letter but thought better of it. Goodbye. (He strides out of the room, shaking his head in disbelief).
Mary: (She glances at the others, puzzled, as Chris leaves). How strange. (She calls after Chris). Puppies? Why would you want puppies? (Thoughtfully, to herself) Puppies... Now, that’s an idea...
Here are loads of examples of church logos - you may look at them - and yours - with fresh eyes!
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Alistair Birch, 25/08/2011