You are sifting through the myriad of WP themes on the hunt for the right one. Before you do, consider an alternative to WordPress.
Every church planter must make a choice when it comes time for a website. What platform should you choose to build your website?
Sometimes your designer or developer will choose this for you. But the wise church planter will consider more than the design of the website. If you hand off the design of your website to someone else, you will be the one stuck with whatever platform he or she chooses…so choose wisely.
Sure, the platform may be comfortable for the designer, but you are the one who should be most comfortable. This will be your baby to take care of, not the designer’s.
One popular platform churches and church planter’s turn to is WordPress. The web is chalked full of helpful articles written about the pros and cons of WordPress, so I won’t attempt to rehash those. I will make an observation unique to church planters though. Most church planters get bogged down attempting to keep up with their WordPress websites. It’s not that WordPress is akin to rocket science. It is more like WordPress can feel akin to ongoing rocket maintenance. Keeping track of updates, plugins, and content squeezes the life out of many well-intentioned church planters.
Tilda, An Alternative Publishing Platform
Tilda is a relative newcomer to the world of web design and publishing platforms. Tilda describes its service like this: “Tilda helps you build stunning websites for business and media.” You build a website using Tilda’s 170+ pre-designed blocks.
What I Like about Tilda So Far
I’ve recently been working on a website for a church planter and using Tilda for the first time. Here’s what I like about working with Tilda so far.
1. The stylish blocks are current and clean.
One benefit of Tilda being a new kid on the block is they are current. By keeping an eye on industry trends, Tilda builds design blocks to match. This keeps church planters from accidentally adding the web equivalent of a flannelgraph to a modern living room.
2. Easy video backgrounds for covers.
Video backgrounds are popular, and adding them as the background for a large cover is easy. I took the church planter’s vision video, edited down a few scenes from around the city, uploaded the resulting clip to YouTube, and set it as a looping video background for the home page. This worked like a champ.
3. A focus on typography.
I’m a designer, so, of course I love type (what lay people call “fonts”). Tilda has great support for different fonts. Combined with their stylish blocks, type looks great across the entire site. Good type means better reading. And better reading means you get your message across to your audience.
4. Saying more with less.
Another nice feature of Tilda’s pre-designed blocks is that each block comes with a preview. Thus, the user sees a preview demonstrating the right amount of content that looks good. When designing or editing, you find yourself drawn to a particular block. Part of the attraction you feel is the ‘less-is-more’ design of each block. You are inspired to keep your own content light and to the point.
5. Responsive-friendly design with lots of control and little hassle.
“Responsive design” is designer lingo for “the website looks good on a laptop, tablet, and smartphone.” Tilda does a nice job right out of the bag, and this is important. Statistics show well over half of your website visitors will view your website on a smartphone. What if you need to tweak something that looks good on a laptop but not on a smartphone? Tilda provides a simple toggle allowing you to customize blocks to show or hide on different devices. Problem solved.
6. Blocks make simple revisions or additions attainable for church planters.
In the early stages of your church plant, you need a great website to share your vision, message, and brand. You need the ability to make some minor adjustments and occasional additions to your website. You are likely not making daily or even weekly updates. There are too many other plates spinning. Tilda meets those needs while helping church planters stay within the look-and-feel of the rest of the site (branding).
7. The simple pricing structure works well within the confines of a church planting budget.
Tilda’s personal pricing plan of $10/mo is worth the hassle-free benefits of a hosted solution. Unlike WordPress, there are no updates, upgrades or plugins to manage. Set it and forget it (I mean that in a good, ‘super-busy church planter’ kind of way).
Questions Yet to be Answered
As I said before, I just got started trying out Tilda. I’ve used numerous platforms over the years working with the clients of Robby Fowler Design. Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Those with too many weaknesses eventually get gobbled up or passed by. Time will tell for Tilda. For now, here are the questions I still have as it relates to church planters:
- What will revisions, additions and maintenance feel like for a church planter managing his site in the early days of his church plant? Will Tilda’s pre-built blocks make additions and revisions as easy as I think they will?
- Will there be enough features to keep Tilda a viable option for ‘phase 1’ of a typical church plant? Or will some of the unique needs of a church website try to squeeze too much out of the Tilda platform?
- How will Tilda fare overall in this crowded market? Even if it works great for church planters, that is not enough to sustain them in a competitive field. Will they have staying power?
There is a growing list of options when it comes to designing, hosting and managing your church plant’s website. Some solutions focus on the church market. Others have a small business focus but make great options for churches too. Tilda is a welcomed newcomer on the scene for church planters who want something that looks great and is super simple to manage.
Designing a website always feels like a pressure-cooker. There are so many options. There are so many great websites out there. There are tons of terrible sites too. The thought of someone I befriend checking out my church’s website and then making the decision whether or not to continue frightens me. What if I was too wordy? What if the site is confusing or too ‘insider-ish’…or not enough ‘insider-ish’? Will I be able to maintain it, or will we come out of the gate fast and fade in the end?
Jesus cares as much about the heart behind your website as he does about the content and design of your website.
He cares for both. One look at the stunning HD nature footage that appears when my new Apple TV screen saver kicks in is enough to shut down any argument claiming design does not matter to God. The Father designed a stunning garden for Adam & Eve. Beauty…check. Functionality…check. So yes, poorly designed websites diminish our reflection of God’s goodness and character. But a beautiful website with compelling content designed out of fear, or competition, or pride is no more pleasing to the Father. Even if Google Analytics does not track your heart, our loving Father does. My fear, anxiety, arrogance or self-reliance that surface when designing a website reveal my need for Jesus. He cares enough about his church that he can empower the designer’s design, the writer’s words, and the leader’s heart. The Father invites us to cast our website anxieties on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).