The difference between inspiration and plagiarism is a fine line. However, walking that line helps you create inspiring and engaging experiences as quickly as possible. This article will feature a few ways you can safely draw ideas from around the Internet. In other words, copy and paste with pride.
When it comes to websites, your church is probably not at the bleeding edge of functionality, design, or content. It is probably pretty straightforward with some branding elements, and a few layers of navigation, page templates, social media integration, and perhaps some audio and video content. In an attempt to stand out, you sit at your computer, or worse, in a committee meeting, and think about what to do next. Here are a few examples of areas you can use to get that much-needed boost of inspiration.
If someone has already said something profound on a topic you wish to feature on your website, do not be afraid to use it. Gather these quotes in an electronic library for your regular posts to social media outlets. Just be sure to get two things correct; ensure it's an accurate quote, and provide proper attribution. If they are active on social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even LinkedIn, be nice and direct your readers to the outlet you consider most relevant.
There are entire websites dedicated to showcasing good design work. Although these are not specifically related to churches, they can often inspire you to great work. You just might find a solution to a design problem lurking on these pages. A good place to start would be Six Revisions' article on 16 Best Web Design Galleries for Inspiration. For the more artistic, take a look at Dribbble, where designers show only a snippet of interesting work to get your mind working.
Image Focused Social Media
If you are interested in a combination of design ideas as well as articles on the same topic, social media outlets are the answer. Of course the giant here is Pinterest, with a multitude of users pinning articles and images to themed boards. There are plenty of church website idea pins out there, ready for consumption and inspiration.
Other Church Websites
Perform a search for churches with something in common to yours, such as denominations, communities, sizes, or demographics. See how they solved the problems you currently face. As I said earlier, you are not alone and many have gone before you and found solutions. What does their content structure look like? Do they have nice photography? How about daily devotionals? See what others have done before you run off to invent something already created.
Do not take this article as a push to go steal someone's hard work and claim it as your own. I specifically want you to use these as inspiration. Borrow a piece of the design, and grow your own around it. Copy and Paste with Pride and use them as seeds to grow a new design, navigation structure, or any other problem you need to solve on your website. Water that seed with lots of hard work, and soon your church website just might be the newest thing that others are using to spread the Gospel to the ends of the world.
Note: It would be in poor taste if I did not admit that this article was inspired by a conversation with Rahul Singh.
Photo courtesy of Leandro Frasson