Web Teams: Starting An In-House Team

man crouched down at race start line

How do you go about creating an in-house web team for your church? What skill sets do you hire, and in what order do you bring them on board? Whether you are starting a website from scratch, or are taking it over after an external company developed it, there are several key roles you must fill on your new team. These roles are in a purposeful order, which is not to say that one is more important than the other. It is just a logical progression of needs and skills that will get your website running quickly and in the right direction.

Digital Lead

Should you start coding a website, producing content, and developing features with no clear goal in mind? Begin your team by bringing in the person that will lead the charge for integrating digital in your church. I advise they have management experience, but given they will initially have nothing to manage; it is a role they can grow into. Among their first tasks should be preparing the strategy and vision for the website; ensuring it aligns with the church’s overall goals. See my previous article for more information about church web strategy. One key thing you should look for is a digital lead that has a long history with the web and is comfortable being a one-person-show for a while. While they may not fully understand server configuration and advanced JavaScript coding; they should have a decent sense of design, be able to install WordPress, and write some basic HTML.

Content Producer

The first aspect your digital lead will want to take off their plate is the regular content updates. So whether you start creating content for printed material, social media, or websites; you need someone to compose it. A dedicated content producer can work with your pastoral staff to create meaningful content for all of your mediums and channels throughout the week. The ideal skillset would be someone with marketing and/or editorial experience, with website experience preferred. Remember that writing for the web is inherently different than print; but again this can be learned. Plus many content management systems have intuitive interfaces that require no HTML experience to produce great content. A solid foundation in good grammar and a creative way with words is most important.

Social Media

If you are producing meaningful content, you will want to publicize it as much as possible. The easiest way to get word out to the masses is via social media channels. Although many people use social media, it takes someone with a some marketing savvy and technical skills to execute this well. Many content management systems will automatically post snippets of content to platforms. However, a personal touch will be more meaningful and will ultimately get better click-through rates. Plus if any comments or feedback needs a pastor’s attention, having someone regularly monitoring your various outlets

Specialized Roles

Once you have a concise website strategy, a basic website up and running, regular content production, and a solid presence on social media platforms; it is time to get a bit more specialized. Here is where you might want to bring in someone more technically savvy to make customized components for your website, such as that donation form your finance leader suggested. Or your content producer thinks it would be great to automate an email newsletter campaign. Perhaps you want to re-brand your site, but your team lacks that keen eye for design. Whatever the specialties are, you can now reach out for them.

Action Item

If you are considering taking over your website from an external agency, or just want to grow your existing team; please examine the roles, talents, and the order I am suggesting you bring them in. I understand that this is often a tall order, as many church websites are run by a team of volunteers. If this is the case, I would suggest at least asking your congregation for the skillsets that most closely match the jobs I mentioned. It may seem counter-intuitive to turn someone away from your team; but your team may not be ready to fully utilize their talents. In no time you will have a fully thought through website that engages your audience and supports your church’s various goals.

Photo courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski

Inspiration for this article came from Paul Boag’s discussion on “Forming Your Digital Team

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.