We recently received a question from a potential client asking us what the difference is between Clover Church Sites and our system here at MinistryWebsites.biz.
A glance of Clover's service points out a couple things:
1. They charge $1,000 up-front, plus $20/month for the service. With the MinistryWebsites.biz system, there are no start-up fees (save yourself the $1,000) and the basic account starts at only $29/month. That means you'd have to use our service for almost 3 years before you even reach $1,000 start-up fee Clover requires, not including the $20/month you'd spend in addition to that with Clover. Plus, with us, there's no long-term contract or anything. You can upgrade, downgrade or cancel your account at any time. Although Clover doesn't restrict you to contracts either, it's a bit harder to switch to a new service when you know you just dumped $1,000 into it.
2. It's interesting to note that most of Clover's sites are built with Flash, which will not index very well in search engines. Since most churches use their sites mostly to connect with new people in the community who are searching for a church home, indexing well for search a pretty big deal. Sites at MinistryWebsites.biz are made to automatically be optimized for search engines and even include tools in the admin area that easily let you customize search engine optimization even further. That doesn't seem to be a feature with Clover.
3. We noticed that some of Clover's clients opt to link to their church's calendar on Google Docs instead of using Clover's built-in calendar. Not quite sure why that is, but the calendar system at MinistryWebsites.biz can automatically import calendar items from a Google Calendar or any calendar that produces an iCal feed, allowing you to use one main Google calendar and just automatically feed the events you want into your church's website calendar.
4. We're also not a big fan of Clover's video/audio media players, but honestly, it's still better than what MinistryWebsites.biz offers (although, that will be changing soon). The best solution we've found so far is to use the free embeddable FeedPlayer which is better than both Clover and MinistryWebsites.biz's media solutions. See it in action on my church's website here: audio and video.
For clients who want to use audio and video podcasts for their church's website, we recommend that you use Blip.tv to host both the audio and video files since it's free storage and bandwidth and creates perfect media feeds, especially for iTunes, all for free. Plus, it will convert videos to FLV flash formats that play better on the web.
We also like to think the free web designs for MinistryWebsites.biz are pretty slick. We're regularly adding more all the time, too! In fact, we have two more "e-zine" style designs coming out within the next couple days.
Other than that, the list of features between Clover Sites and MinistryWebsites.biz are pretty comparable. Check out the list of our features along with some videos that highlight those features.
And, of course, if you haven't yet, sign up for a free 3-page MinistryWebsites.biz website to use and see what you think. Find out for yourself how easy it is to manage a high-quality ministry website!
Posted on Fri, August 21, 2009
by Tim Schmoyer