ChurchWP.net is always looking for folks involved in creating online resources for churches.  In this installment of the designer interview, we talked with Jason Silver of ServiceBuilder.net and CrookdBrush.com.  ServiceBuilder.net is one of our favorite worship planning tools.  You can read your review of it here.

How did servicebuilder.net start?

It started in 1995 as an Access Database for a church I was working for. Between 1995 and 2008, I worked in a few different churches and each time I would continue to enhance ServiceBuilder until it became a complete church management program. I’m no longer in full-time ministry, but am a self-employed web developer. I decided that ServiceBuilder needed to become a web application in about 2009.

Why do you think ServiceBuilder.net would be a good investment for churches?  What are the different pricing options?

I think a common complaint from church attenders and volunteers is that they feel like they don’t know what’s going on. By offering a way for the entire congregation to login and interact with the church, we remove a barrier to connection. Non-admins see a dashboard where they can volunteer for empty spots in the schedule, they can view their upcoming commitments, they can access information like song lists, scripture readings, teaching materials, and more. It’s one place to come to track your church attendance, view your worship history, and really so much more.

How long have you been involved in web design and what go you started?

My real skills are in writing web software to solve problems. I started in 1996, if I recall correctly. My first web program was a popular Scrabble game.

How did you come up with the name of your website development company, CrookedBush?  What services do you offer?

My wife is from Canada’s midwest, and on one visit my father-in-law annouced a road trip up north to a place called the crooked bush. “Bush” is a word they use to describe small woods or forests.It was such a strange and unique place. The Aspen trees there don’t grow straight up like everywhere else. They grow horizontal to the ground, and sometimes suddenly turn and shoot down back into the ground, or off on some strange tangent. Here’s a link a University study on the woods.I thought it was a creative name, and since I am a non-conformist, I thought the trees kind of represented my way of thinking. Since picking the name, I’ve had quite the response to it– I hadn’t thought through all the ways it could be misunderstood.

 

How does your faith impact your design?

I’m not sure of what effect my faith has on my design, but it certainly has an impact on how I love others and how I do business.

Are there certain design trends you see happening recently that churches should be aware of?

One thing that has been popular over the last year or two is full-screen images, video backgrounds, and background slideshows.

What information do you think every church website should include? Why is it important?

I feel passionate about one thing: a web site should be integrated into a church’s or a company’s day-to-day life.  If it’s just static information and a few pictures, most people won’t visit the site more than once. Also, after a year or two, the site has become stale, and no one notices (except potential new visitors who may discredit you for the lack of updates).

Rather, a web site needs to be an interactive place to come for connecting to others. Often the only change to a church web site from week to week is the downloadable bulletin changes. That’s not very interesting. I love to work with churches and companies to think about how their web site could be a tool to improve what they’re doing already, and that doesn’t involve adding tasks to an already busy schedule.

What is the critical info that should be on every home church’s homepage? Why is it important?

Think like a new-comer:

  • Contact info
  • Interactive Google map
  • What to expect when you get there
  • Do you have confusing hallways? Maybe a few photos, video tour, floor plans
  • Where does one park when you get there?
  • How early should one come if they want to avoid being singled out
  • What is the church’s purpose? Every church has a flavour, what’s the unique aspect of your church?

 

Are there any mistakes you see churches make with their websites? Anything churches should try to avoid?

Yes! If you aren’t going to update your web site, don’t put time-sensitive information there.

There are ways to solve this problem– I can write a program to put your schedule and calendar on the web site automatically each week, or maybe pull photos from Facebook automatically. This way of thinking avoids having a stale web site in three years.

What do you like to do when you are not developing websites?

I volunteer about 20 hours a week at a local church plant, which is a smush-together of contemporary worship music, and ancient liturgical forms.