Jonathan Carone Interview

Continuing the series where I'm interviewing different experts who create great church websites I was honoured to interview Jonathan Carone.

Introduce yourself and tell us about you do for churches

My name is Jonathan Carone. I’m a big believer that for us to impact the world around us, we first have to understand who we are as an organization. I help churches (re)discover their story and how it fits into the world around them and then help them tell that story through brand development, website creation, and communications coaching.

How many people are involved in your team?

My business is just me officially. I have other great freelancers and solopreneurs I partner with when it best serves the needs of the church I’m working with.

What platforms do you like building your websites on?

I create all my websites on Wordpress.

What made you choose that platform?

When I started my business, Wordpress is what I had the most experience with. I decided to dive in to one platform and learn it really, really well instead of trying to be a jack of all trades on all of them.

What are the advantages of the platform now you are using it? What do you love about it. 

From a technical standpoint, I like the flexibility of Wordpress. You can literally make it do almost anything you need it to if you have the time, skill, or budget. It has a great support system and isn’t dependent on one company like many other platforms.

If it is a self hosted website, what do you host it on?

I host all my sites on Flywheel.

What are the challenges of the platform now you are using?

There can be a learning curve with Wordpress. There are also more ways to break Wordpress than there are other platforms. Wordpress requires hosting as well which can slow down your site or bring about its own challenges. Once you know what’s going on, those challenges can feel smaller but they can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t understand them.

If there is one thing you would change, what would it be?

Honestly, I’d get rid of the cheap hosting providers who rip off clients who don’t know what they’re doing.

Share about the design process. How did you come to where you are now designwise?

For a few years, I focused on creating websites that looked really, really nice. My unofficial tagline was “your story never looked this good.” But after seeing some of the copy churches were sending over and how bad much of it was, I realized I was creating websites that were pretty but didn’t actually work that well. That’s when I learned about StoryBrand. After diving into that, I went through the certification process to become a StoryBrand Certified Guide. That process and framework has allowed me to combine my skills as a writer, communications director, and designer into one service that both looks really nice and connects with people where they are. So for me, my designs are now driven by the content and psychology behind what users are looking for.

What is the favourite part of your church website?

This is such a hard question because a lot of sites are different. For one client, we’re working to pair down their Watch page to make it more accessible and better organized and I love where that’s going. On another site that’s currently in development, we’re working really hard to make sure the content is written for an audience that either has no church background or has a bad taste in their mouth from previous churches.

If there was one tip you could give another person who is updating/creating a church website, what would it be?

Make it about the person reading the site and how your church can help them. Don’t make your church the hero of the story.

Where can people find you online? What is your website address?

Podcast: SolvingProblemsPodcast.com

Church focused website: JonathanCarone.com


How To Structure A Multisite Church Website

Multisite churches come in many shapes and sizes. They all have subtle distinctive organisational set ups, but the one central idea usually is that the different locations come under the same name. There are some other commonalities which may include some of the following:

  1. One vision and mission.
  2. Centralised teaching
  3. Site specific teaching
  4. Consistent branding and ministry approach across different locations.
  5. One overall brand name/design.

This blog isn't about growing a multisite church (There are plenty of great blogs out there for that). There are some fundamental best practices to creating a great multisite church website. This is especially application when it comes to both site design and site structure.

Questions to ask include:

What church-wide/global topics do we have that apply across all our locations?

This can include topics like:

  • Overview to the churches vision and mission
  • Giving portal
  • About Us
  • Media
  • Ministries
  • Locations
  • New Here

Some churches can take 'point of need' to the structure of their site. Saddleback which is a great multisite church is a great example of this. Their site is structured like this:

  • Visit
  • Connect
  • Grow
  • Watch
  • Care
  • Give

Willow Creek Community Church takes a similar approach to its top level site structure:

  • Locations
  • Watch
  • Care
  • Connect
  • Serve
  • Give
  • About

Some websites reflect a bit more of their own organisational structure. Hillsong is a great example of this. Incredibly big on so many levels. Lots of churches, plus with a well known emphasis on it's music. It's top level site structure is:

  • Jesus
  • About
  • Locations
  • Channel (TV Channel)
  • Ministries
  • Media
  • Music (Well known brand and probably high traffic pages on the site)
  • Events (Again their conferences are so well known and attended)
  • Store
  • Collected

Brentwood Baptist for example this top level site structure:

  • New Here
  • About
  • Read
  • Ministries
  • Jesus

Read my in-depth interview with Darrel Girardier from Brentwood here.

Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England has another approach to its top level site structure:

  • Sundays
  • Get Involved
  • What's On
  • Talks
  • About Us
  • Giving

The Key

For me the key is to have all of what is important to your church from a church-wide perspective at that top level. Then keep each location/campus specific content within the relevant areas.


Easter At Church On The Move

Church On The Move is very well known for its creativity. Their Easter landing page has a beautiful shot of a new dawn which is meant to express the resurrection. The image is very mysterious which I personally love.

It scrolls down to a summary of their Easter and links to each campus.

As you scroll down the colour palette moves into a dark and broody Good Friday feel.

Check out Church On The Move's Easter website in full while you can here. 

 


Easter At CityLife Church

CityLife is a church near me in Melbourne Australia. It's a great church and I've loved seeing them take a step up both the branding and the landing page they've created for Easter 2019.

CityLife Church is a multisite church. They summarise what Easter is all about and invite the potential visitor to attend one of their services.

They have a church-wide initiative to help those in need and invite people to take part and bring something along. I love this idea and the message it sends to a potential visitor.

They also have some social shareable graphics and an invite form for guests on the page.

You can see all of CityLife Church's Easter website here. 

 


Easter At Experience Church

I really love the design approach here at Experience Church. It's very, very different. Yet fresh!

The page has all the key details you would expect of a landing page with a message directed towards guests.

There is another Easter graphic which I assume is for Easter Sunday which ties in really well from a branding perspective.

The dark tonal feel changes radically to a much lighter one when you scroll down to the kids area. Yet it still consistent thematically.

Check out more on Experience Church's Easter website here. 


Easter At NewSpring Church

The header of the NewSpring Church Easter website is a video. It's a very cool video, but hard to catch a decent screen grab. You'll need to see it for yourself!

The interesting thing to note here is that from my searches, NewSpring was I think the only church to use a video header at the top of their Easter page. I think we'll see many more churches taking this approach soon.

 

There is a summary statement of what Easter is.

Then there is a very cool find your gatherings menu, you literally have to swipe even on a desktop to discover more. Obviously this is created with mobile in mind first. But on a desktop it isn't that intuitive.

Love Easter Eggs? KidSpring has got you covered.

I love the intuitive nature of the FAQs. You click on it and it opens out. Nice UI and copywriting.

Find out more at their Easter website here.


Easter At Creekside Bible Church

I love the design-work from the team who created Easter at Creekside Bible Church. They've used the same image and used different colours to evoque different feelings.

Detail about their Easter services

I love the way they break out the 'what to expect' and let us know you are coming' for visitors. And check out the free brunch! Bring your own tracksuit pants. You'll need them!

I particularly love the Good Friday graphic version below. It's very dramatic and moody.

Check out the website here.


Easter At Saddleback Church

The team at at Saddleback Church always creates stunning visuals for both Christmas and Easter. This year is no different on their website.

To be honest these screengrabs don't do the look and feel any justice.

There is also a really lovely video of the team making this graphic. Well worth checking out.

Creative copywriting

Service Times & Locations

Social media graphics to share

Helping people to serve at the different locations.

Beautiful footer style

There is so much to see on this site. Check it out while you can here.

 


Easter At Willow Creek Community Church

The Willow Creek Community Church's Easter website must take a huge amount of time to put together. Well done to the team! Because every location has their own visual direction and have different information throughout the Easter season.

Multi-campus approach

Because each campus does something different at Easter they have campus specific pages.

More Barrington location details

Another campus approach

Again each campus does their own thing so the details of each event is different. There is no centralised approach to the theme for the Easter service.

Willow Creek Chicago Information

Check their Easter website out while you can here.


Easter At Cornerstone SF

The Easter At Cornerstone SF website is the only creative approach to Easter that I've seen which is illustrative in it's approach.

When the visitor lands on the main site they see a nice pop-up box which directs them to the Easter pages.

It looks like the musical is a regular Easter event at this church. The design is completely relatable to San Francisco.

You can easily select the right date and time for your tickets. You can even watch a 'news' video about the Easter musical. It's fantastic!

 

The page also has some FAQ's on it. Which is great as it's obviously hard to park around the church being in an urban location and if you are a visitor its good to know the inside scoop. The page also promotes the Easter services that has on.

Visit the Easter site while you can here.