How to create youth ministry website thumb

 

It seems everything is online now-a-days. The internet is pretty much single handedly overseeing the demise of the yellow pages, the postal service and the Christmas family update letter. We can get our hands on pretty much any information we need in seconds thanks to sites like google, wikipedia and facebook. So is the message you need to communicate to your teenagers online too? Trust me, it’ll be the first place they think to look if they want to find anything out. This is the first installment of guiding you through how to set up a website for your youth ministry as simply and cheaply as possible.

 

Weebly.com

Weebly is great. It’s a free online website builder that will help you create a place for all the info you wish to communicate about your youth ministry. The best bit is, it’s incredibly simple to use.

Step 1 – Sign up.

Visit www.weebly.com and sign up by providing a name, a password and a valid email address. Once this is all confirmed log in and hit “add site.” Follow the simple instructions and then wait as the default website loads.

Step 2 – Choose a domain name.

Next, it will asks you to choose “a website domain.” A domain name is simply the web address someone will type into their internet browser to get to your website. For an example, look at

the browser now. Our domain name is youthministrymanagement.co.uk. Facebook’s is facebook.com and the BBC’s is bbc.co.uk. In choosing a website domain with weebly, you will have 3 options. You can…

 

A) “Use a subdomain of weebly.com.” This means you must have the words “weebly.com” added at the end of the website address you choose. The upside is that it’s completely free however the negative is that it doesn’t look very professional. You must weigh up if this is an issue for you. I recommend choosing this option at first as you can always change it later.

B) “Register a new domain name.” If you don’t yet own a domain name weebly can offer you one here at an inflated rate. I don’t advise going with this option as if you are happy to wait a few hours you can get one for much cheaper.

C) “Use a domain name you already own.” If you have already purchased a website address from elsewhere you can add it in here. Refer to weebly’s help pages for a tutorial on how to do this successfully. To purchase a domain name simply type “cheap domains” into a search engine and see what comes up. 123-reg.co.uk and godaddy.com are reliable websites for this, though not necessarily the cheapest.

 

Step 3 – Choosing your site’s template.

One of the great things about weebly is how easy it is to use. The way your website looks currently is determined by it’s “theme.” It will be what people see as they visit your site. To change theme, click the ‘design’ tab at the top of the page and click ‘all themes.’ Take your time in deciding which theme to go for, you can get a sample of each theme by hovering over one and clicking ‘preview’. Once you’ve decided upon one, click “use theme”.

 

Step 4 – Adding content.

By default you will be on your websites home page. At the top of your browser click the ‘elements’ tab and have a look at the various items you can add to your site. Simply drag and drop them into place on your web page. You can add photos and text to make the home page more interesting.

 

To add more pages click the ‘pages’ tab at the top and follow the instructions. Then, on your home page, find an item to direct the reader to that page. For example say on your home page you have a picture of your youth group. You’d like a space on your site to give the reader more information about the group so you create a new page specifically for it. You then go back to the home page, hover over the image of the youth group and click the ‘link’ icon that appears. Select which page on your site you want it to link to, click ok and you’re done!

 

Step 5 – Go live!

Finally, when you’re happy with how your site looks, click ‘publish’ at the top right hand side of your screen. This will publish your website. You will be able to visit it by entering the domain name you selected earlier into the browser. Go and check it out, make what changes need to be made and don’t forget to press ‘publish’ everytime you have finished making changes. If you have any queries, weebly has a very useful help section, just click the icon at the top of the web page.

 

Finally, promote it! It’s no good having a website with lots of useful info on there if no-one ever looks at it! Make sure kids and parents know of it’s existence and use it as a tool.

Make sure you keep it up-to-date too! Try and put as little time-restricted information on there as possible as it will mean less work for you in the long run.

So there is your basic website! In the future YMM will have articles explaining how to have a flashier web pages as well as general advice on youth ministry websites. But in the mean time, happy surfing!

Joel is youth minister for St Michaels church, North Bristol where he leads a team of volunteers and interns. Having been involved in youthwork for 10 years, He specialises in delivering leadership and people management training in a youth ministry context and has taught with SoulNet, SWYM and Youthwork the Conference.

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