Luthernet does not have a separate FAQs page, but we do get questions, so here's an article that will answer some of the questions we've had in working with churches and other clients.
What's it really going to cost?
Luthernet is in business to help others. While that might surprise other businesses and even go against many business models, that's what we want to do. Just because we build websites fast does not mean we're going to pretend to take a few extra weeks (or months) in beta testing to ensure that we can charge you more money. If we have to create or move a lot of content, we will often bill it at $50 an hour. For most sites, however, it's just about moving the basic content and setting it up for you to create more, and those sites are built for $500 or a little more, depending on size and other add-ons. These are all specified in the proposal document. We charge $10 a month or $100 a year for hosting and upgrading.
How long will it take?
Having built over 100 websites, Luthernet knows how to do it fast and pretty. Once we get started, it takes a few days. That's it. Within a week, you'll have a new website that's guaranteed to look and work better than what you had. In order to do this, we skip the months of meetings and discussions, using your old site and best practices as a guide. We even wrote the book on it.
What operating system do I need?
This question was asked by someone using Windows XP in 2016. And that's fine, except I'd recommend Linux on an older machine myself. For the most part, it does not matter. Your new site can be seen and updated on any computer or device. That said, if you are using an old enough version of a web browser, you will have issues seeing the website properly. But you'd know that already because you have trouble seeing every website properly. In essence, that's what we're talking about: operating system is nearly irrelevant, but web browser makes some difference, since Luthernet builds and updates websites for current standards.
Do we own the content?
With Luthernet, not only do you own the content, you own the website. You can transfer it out to your own hosting company if you wish. You can even get the administrator login and play around with all the settings if you're not worried about getting a bit confused. We leave it up to you, and it is absolutely your website. Some cheap or free website builders will not really allow you to own your content and website, so be careful, especially if you plan on adding a lot of articles. When the host decides to go out of business or charge more money, you will be stuck. With Luthernet, you're free to make choices.
Is it easy to write articles?
If you can update a Facebook or Twitter account, or if you can even just write a Word Document, then you can handle this. You click an "Add" or "Edit" button, write (or copy and paste), give the article a title, and hit save. Sure, you can add meta tags and pictures, but that's not necessary. In fact, it's much more important to write content than to mess with other settings or add a lot of images, since it's the writing that will bring people back to your website.
Can Luthernet Write Our Content?
Actually, we can. Luthernet is great at building websites, but we also have two certified English teachers on staff. We also understand how to get a website seen by Google. That said, we do not know anything about your church and would charge $50 an hour for writing or editing services, so most (not all) clients will create their own content. We currently maintain Lutheran Radio Church Service, archiving each radio service and creating the articles for the website. If you have a newsletter but not the time to add it, we can do it for you, but it will cost extra. A sole pastor with a budget but no time might prefer paying to an empty website, but we recommend enlisting volunteers first.
Will a website stop our declining membership numbers?
No. Churches that are successful tend to:
Have good leadership
Have a clear mission and purpose
Have a willingness to self-reflect, to change and adapt according to context
Have involvement of lay members
Be intentional in prioritizing growth
Be intentional in chosen style of worship
Be intentional in nurturing disciples (http://www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk/UserFiles/File/Reports/FromAnecdoteToEvidence1.0.pdf)
All of these can partially be accomplished with a new website, but a new website will not accomplish this for you. How you use the website is more important than the website design, and that's why we try to make the editing simple.
Can we have volunteers work on the website?
You should absolutely have volunteers working on the website. Your default administrator account, however, might not be the right one to use for everyone. Luthernet can set it up so that certain users can access certain pages. However, it's also kind of nice to have several eyes on the content in order to manage misspelled words and other editing issues. The biggest problem with leaving volunteers fully in charge of website design and hosting is that you might have to wait for a year for the site to get built, and then you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to keeping the website's core up-to-date.
Why can't we just use Facebook?
Facebook is a great tool to use. You can write quick messages and add photos. You can publish something that might be seen by lots of friends of your members, reaching many people. But you don't want all those people showing up at your Facebook page with no linked real website. All the growing churches have a real website that houses information in an orderly way. Facebook has posts, and non-members will not search all the posts to find out more, unless you plan on offering coupons and special offers. Besides, Facebook wants those people to click on ads, not your articles, so they will be seeing targeted advertising along with your feed. If you love using Facebook, then embed it on your real website. People can still interact using the tool, but you have them on the site, which directs them to your door, not to an add for fabric softener.