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Design Tips for Churches (From a Graphic Design Professor)

I’ve put together a list of ten design tips for churches. Please don’t feel personally attacked if you create graphics for a church, it’s just general things I’ve noticed over the years. It’s not directed at anyone in particular. Warning, this is a long post.

1. You don’t need your face on the sign or business card.

It takes up valuable space that could be used for better information. Plus, if you get a new job, the church has to buy a new sign. This goes for lawyers too.

2. Speaking of signs, you do not need to include everything about your church on the sign.

The two most important things are the name/logo of the church and a website address. If the sign is large, you could include Sunday service times. Make sure people can read the information driving 40 miles per hour down the street from a distance.

3. Let’s move on to logos.

You don’t need to include a torch, a bible, praying hands, a dove, Jesus, an olive branch, and a cross. Pick one, maybe two at most.

4. Keep your typefaces easy to read.

Decorative type is usually not a good idea. If you use it, make sure it’s something legible at small and large sizes. Comic sans should never be used. Or papyrus. Or hobo. The list goes on… if you think it’s fun. It’s not.

5. Stick to two typefaces max.

Pairing fonts together that contrast one another is a good idea. If they are too similar, it doesn’t make sense. Pinterest is a great place to search font pairing ideas.

6. Go with white or light colored backgrounds for your website.

Black or other colors can be used, but it makes information harder to read.

7. Also, you don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done at your church on the website or home page.

Service times, visitor information, upcoming events, live streams, an email newsletter sign up form, staff directories, contact page, and online giving are all important items. The rest is probably just fluff. Blogs probably won’t be read.

8. By the way, your staff bios don’t need to be four pages long or even four paragraphs.

Keep it short and simple and offer a way to contact you. (Pastors, this includes you.)

9. Microsoft Publisher is not a design program, neither is Word for that matter but I consider it a better choice.

If you don’t have a graphics person, try Canva or Adobe Spark. I suggest sticking with their preformatted font choices/layouts and just changing colors, images, and information if you have no experience.

10. A person having Photoshop does not make them a designer.

You can’t expect your staff or volunteers to know everything. I know budgets are tight at churches and it can be hard to employ a full-time designer. Hiring a junior or senior level college student part-time to create your graphics is a great idea. I would recommend at least $2-3 above minimum wage because of their special skill set. Free internships will usually not get the best quality students or keep them motivated. Remember they have expenses like gas, groceries, computer maintenance, and software subscriptions.

Bonus Tip: Don’t take photos, videos or make live streams with iPads. While their cameras are getting better, they just aren’t meant for that. Plus, it’s hard to hold. You can take decent photos and videos with a newer model iPhone at a short distance.

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