While you may be new to Christian Templates Online (CTO), we’ve actually been around for quite a while. CTO emerged as an extension of the work we were doing designing and developing church web templates at Design Essentials. Our experience in helping churches to launch memorable, effective, and user-friendly web presences has been our chief purpose for nearly a decade now. And in that time we’ve learned a lot. We know a lot about what works, and just as much about what doesn’t. The service we’re offering with CTO really is the culmination of the lessons learned in that process.
While the web is a more wide-open platform than ever before, with opportunities in every direction you look, it’s also – perhaps paradoxically – much more complicated. For instance, if you think about it, six or seven years ago no one gave a second thought to mobile. Hardly anyone at the time was using their phone to surf the web. Well, needless to say, that’s changed. In today’s world, more people access the web through smart phones that they do through desktops.
A church website needs to be more than just technically accessible on a mobile phone, it needs to render well, and make the best possible use of that more limited “real estate”. And then there’s tablets, and large phones (sometimes called “phablets”) that are something in between in size. All that is to say, in today’s world you want your church website to be responsive – meaning it renders differently based on the device it’s being accessed by. We keep that in mind with every theme we release here on the CTO platform.
Your church website also needs to be cross-browser compatible, and it needs to run smoothly and load quickly. After all, while some people get to access the web through lightning fast networks, others do not. While we aim to make our church themes beautiful, we also make them efficient – to allow for the best user experiences, across the board, regardless of what network or browser, or device, someone is accessing the website with.
In our history we’ve created church websites with various platforms; starting with HTML sites, then moving to Joomla, and then into WordPress. And to make a long story short, in case you’re not aware, over the last few years one of those platforms has really emerged as the cream of the crop. I’m speaking of course of WordPress. What began as a blogging platform has evolved into a full-on content management system that is powerful, flexible and lightweight. Remarkably, the WordPress “experiment” has become so successful that now more than 25% of the entire web runs on WordPress. That’s right – MORE than a quarter of all sites online are running on WordPress. That should put to rest just how trusted WordPress has become. In contrast, Joomla, the next best CMS competitor, now has less than 3% market share.
So here at CTO you’ll find that ALL of our themes are WordPress-based. One of the advantages with that is that, if you so choose, you can switch out themes in the future without losing the content you’ve created. That’s another great thing about WordPress, unlike say, Joomla. Even as new versions are released, older versions don’t “break”. It’s this commitment to backwards compatibility that again helps WordPress to stand out. And we go one step further, and make our Paragon themes as mutually compatible as possible.
Another great advantage of the content management system era, and especially WordPress, is that there’s a lot of great functionality available out there. Plugins -as they’re called – do just that; they plugin to your website, and provide additional features beyond what the theme does. Of course, there are some challenges here. Plugins are made by different authors, and don’t always play well with the themes they’re “plugged into”, or even with each other. Here at CTO we take care of all that. Not only have we power-packed our WordPress church themes with the functionality that churches require, but we’ve added to the offering by pairing these themes with the best plugins available – including ones we’ve authored. And we work to make sure all of these run together seamlessly.
Hopefully you’re getting the picture. What we’re aiming to do with Christian Templates Online is provide churches with a one-stop platform for beautifully crafted, easy to use, church website themes, backed with customized church-relevant functionality, online security, and full customer support. And we’re hands on. If you have a question about one of our themes, or how to accomplish something in particular, we’re available via email and phone to help. And if you have an idea, let us know about it. We’re always looking to roll out additional features.
Speaking of features, here are a few of the highlights you get with our super-powered WordPress church themes:
- Responsive website formatting
- SEO optimized themes
- Sermon manager (organized by speaker, series and topic)
- Easy events calendar manager
- Tithing/donations manager
- Access to a custom collection of stock photos