The summer edition of the ACCC’s The Priest included an article by me, providing readers a how-to set up a parish website. Only six months later, I think it’s out of date!
In my discussion of which software package to use, I recommended WordPress and Joomla!
WordPress is versatile and easy to use, and Elegant Themes provides beautiful looking templates at a very low price. By way of example, I designed this blog using an Elegant Theme template. And St Mary’s Hamilton, and St Mary’s West Melbourne, and the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. If you follow those links, you can see that the “look” of each website is quite distinct and (I think) attractive!
Joomla! is even more versatile. Matthew Price, who is an accomplished web designer (and my webhosting “landlord”), swears by it. By way of example, Matt used Joomla! to build websites as varying as Corpus Christi College, the Diocese of Sandhurst, and My Family My Faith. I used to use Joomla! myself, but I have found that it’s easier to train volunteers in WordPress.
As a rule, I recommend Joomla! for the more tech-savvy. And I recommend WordPress for DIY websites. But now I need to add a third option to the suite.
This week, I received an e-mail from the parish priest of St Philip’s in Blackburn North. He wanted advice on “the best options for creating a simple, free parish website.”
I just want something that has basic information about the parish, a few pictures and ease of use.
Having considered these criteria, I spontaneously recommended Weebly. I’ve never used Weebly in my life. Nor do I plan to. But I have no reason to doubt the claims it makes in this video. Basically, it’s the easiest, drag-and-drop, no-technical-skills-required way to build a free website:
I e-mailed my recommendation shortly before 1pm. Some time after 4pm, Fr Dillon replied with thanks, and a link to the new website! He modestly called it, “a work in progress with some aspects still to be refined.” That may be so, but I’m still amazed at what could be done in the space of a few hours.
So there you have it. If you want a low-hassle, no-cost website, Weebly may be the way to go.
On the other hand, you may still require a professional website by the likes of Matthew Price, whom I recommend. Websites like his take time to develop. A Weebly site might be also prove ideal in your case, as a temporary “parking space.”
NB. A reader has reminded me “you get what you pay for.” Fr Adrian Sharp, for example, was last week embarrassed by advertising, which he himself could not see, appearing on his blog. He was using the no-cost WordPress.com service, which recently introduced advertising to pay for its “free service.” To remove the advertising, Fr Adrian upgraded to a paid level of service.
Weebly.com does not, at present, sell advertising space on its “free sites.” But there’s a distinct possibility of that happening. Users need to be alert to that. It’s always advisable, I think, to incorporate an expense budget into any medium-term web strategy. As another saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”