Over the past year, my company, Liturgical Publications (LPi), did a survey of 12,000 Catholic Parishes to identify who their current website providers are.
The data is pretty interesting.
Before we get started, I would like to point out a few things:
- Collection Method – This data was manually compiled by a group of interns who determined the service or software used mostly from the footer designation (i.e. “website provided by…”). Our estimate is that this data is 80% accurate accept for Open Source solutions (see below).
- Timeline – These results were complied over the period of one year. Any changes that occurred during that period are not reflected in the results.
- Open Source Results – The websites in the Custom and Other categories are probably open source solutions provided by smaller, local firms or parish volunteers. We could have inspected the source code of each site to determine this conclusively, but we chose to focus our efforts on reaching the largest number of churches possible.
- Potential for bias – I need to acknowledge that my company creates and maintains WeConnect, so there’s a potential for bias there.
Here are the top ten website providers for Catholic churches:
- Custom Websites: 5,383 total parish websites
Parish websites in this category did not have any company or technology identifier and no commercial website provider taking credit for their creation. These are likely open source websites.
- Small / Local Vendor Websites: 3,321 total parish websites
Parish websites in this category are created by local or small website vendors or consulting firms. We classify “small here” as vendors who have produced less than twenty parish websites and 98% of the vendors actually had created two or fewer. In short, there are literally thousands of local website providers, each helping a small number of churches.
- LPi’s WeConnect Websites: 701 total parish websites
WeConnect is a template-based, easy-to-use solution geared specifically for the Catholic Church market. WeConnect is available for a monthly subscription fee of $39 per month.
- eCatholic Websites: 694 total parish websites
eCatholic is a template-based, easy-to-use solution, geared specifically for the Catholic Church market. eCatholic is available for a monthly subscription fee of $20-50 per month.
- WordPress: 403 total parish websites
Due to the proliferation of WordPress website templates out there and the fact that many of them do not specifically say “Wordpress” on them, it is quite likely that WordPress is dramatically under-reported and the clear winner among open source solutions.
It is important to mention that WordPress is a technology platform not a church website service. With the template solutions available from WeConnect, eCatholic, and OSV, the parish receives a complete solution package including support. The WordPress open source code is “free” but requires a volunteer or local consulting firm to assist, a website hosting plan, and possibly an external consultant.
- OSV: 231 total parish websites
OSV appears to have two template-based website solutions—Faith in Action and Radius. This total encompasses both. While not specifically listed on their website, I believe pricing is $79 per month.
- Weebly: 231 total parish websites
Weebly is a low-cost, general website tool for any business or non-profit. Monthly pricing ranges from free to $25 per month. Unlimited storage and phone support are only available on the pay plans.
- Google Sites: 231 total parish websites
Google Sites is Google’s free easy-to-use website builder that is branded primarily as an intranet tool to be used by teams. Google Sites does require a $5-10 fee per backend user and parishes also have to pay a fee for a domain.
- Solutio: 116 total parish websites
Solutio is a template-based solution geared specifically for the Catholic Church market and is typically advertiser supported. Unlike other Catholic website providers, Solutio requires a longer-term contract due to its connection with advertisers. The advertiser supported sites can be free. Ad-free websites start at $3,500 and go up from there.
- GoDaddy: 78 total parish websites
GoDaddy is a large, national website hosting provider that offers domains, websites, and additional services. While the monthly cost of operating is low, GoDaddy also requires a volunteer or local consulting firm to assist in the building and maintaining of the site, a separate hosting plan and possibly an external consultant.
Here are a few additional providers that had under 100 total parish websites:
- John Patrick Publishing: 48 total parish websites
John Patrick Publishing is a Catholic bulletin publisher with a website solution product.
- Wix: 44 total parish websites
Wix is a large national website solution builder for any business or non-profit.
- SMB Creative: 39 total parish websites
SMB provides web design for both churches and businesses.
- DIS Faith Websites: 32 total parish websites
DIS Faith is a cross-denominational Church website solution.
- Diocesan Publications: 29 total parish websites
Diocesan is a Catholic bulletin publisher with a website solution product.
- Clover Websites: 22 total parish websites
Clover is a non-denominational focused Church website solution.
- Joomla!: 8 total parish websites
Joomla! Is an open source solution that is dramatically underrepresented in this survey due to its many templates and usage by small web design firms. Like WordPress, this is a technology not a service.
Overall, these results show a proliferation of small, local, or parishioner solutions. There has definitely been an increased number of parishes choosing a Catholic Church focused solution like WeConnect, eCatholic, or OSV, but overall the church website environment is still largely populated by a tremendous diversity of websites, solutions, and small companies supporting them.