Archive for website content – Page 2

Social Media News – Friending Facebook Blog

Friending Facebook BlogTeacher’s aide fired for refusing to hand over Facebook password  —  Summary: Kimberly Hester, a teacher’s aide at an elementary school, was fired last year for refusing to give her Facebook password to her supervisors.  She is now fighting a legal battle with the school district.

Mashable: Forget Google Instant: In the Future, Search Engines Will Read Your Habits – “Wolfram Alpha CEO Stephen Wolfram’s vision of what the word “Instant” could mean for search is a bit more literal. He envisions some type of search engine that could — through data maps of personal data history — provide reports automatically when they’re needed without an explicit query. He counts this sort of “preemptive delivery of information” among “a large number” of projects the data company has been working on.”

 

SearchEngineWatch: Google April Fools’ Day Pranks 2012: 8-Bit Maps, Chrome Multitask Mode & More! – “For Google, April Fools’ Day is the annual launch day for a slew of gag products and hoax services you’ll likely never see in real life. Google’s practical jokes began a day early in 2012, with 8-Bit Google Maps, Chrome Multitask Mode making their debut, then continued early this morning with the YouTube Collection, Google Racing, Click-to-Teleport search ads, and much more.”

 

Mashable: 4 Facebook Features Marketers Can’t Afford to Ignore – “If you have a brand or a business to market chances are you’re using a social media management application to monitor online mentions, schedule updates, and generate reports. But if you really want to be an effective marketer, you need to develop a deeper understanding of which networks are most vital to your company, and what network features are key. In Facebook’s case, we’re talking about some powerful community management components that are unmatched by its competitors, and often overlooked by marketing pros. Here are the four that simply can’t be ignored.”

 

The Verge1940 US Census becoming fully searchable online through volunteer effort  —  Today the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) released images of the 1940 Census, and a project is already underway to ensure that the information becomes easily available to anyone who wants to know a bit more about the Great Depression.

 

Mashable:White House to Developers: Help Us Build Job Search Apps – “The White House has a request for app developers around the country: help young people find summer jobs. It’s the administration’s first-ever “Code Sprint,” an open-source development free-for-all — sort of like an Iron Chef competition for coders.”

 

HowTo.gov: Changing the Way We Communicate at Work – “A Digital Gov University webinar,  Yammer: The Power of Social Networking Inside Government Offices, found Yammer can change the way we communicate internally. Yammer helps people collaborate more easily and better engage with their coworkers.”

 

Mashable: Why ‘Slacktivists’ Are More Active Than You Think [INFOGRAPHIC]

Targeting Your Site

Aiming at two groups of people

The most successful websites are those designed with their target audience clearly in mind. Your target audience is simply those people who you hope to attract to your site. Good church websites are hard to create because they must reach two target audiences, not just one. The key to ensuring that your website works well is to design according to the different needs of these two audiences. Your first and most important audience is those people who are not yet Christians but who are considering coming to your church (perhaps because they have a friend or neighbor who goes, but they want to find out more). The church website offers them an ideal way to find out about the church and the Christian faith in an anonymous way before taking the plunge and coming along in person. Your website’s second audience is your existing church members. This group is less important than the first, simply because there is probably little which you can place on the website that they don’t already know, or can’t easily find out from another source. So do provide information relevant to church members, but not at the expense of making the site inaccessible to your main audience of non-churchgoers.

Providing relevant content

The key to good design is to ask yourself what the members of each target audience are looking for when they visit your website. Potential visitors to your church probably want to know:

  • ·         Is this church weird, or do normal people go as well?
  • ·         What do Christians believe?
  • ·          Why do people go to church?
  • ·         Where is the church?
  • ·         How do I get in touch?
  • ·         What times are the services?
  • ·         Which service should I go to?
  • ·         Are there facilities for children?

Many church websites do not answer these sorts of questions. We often come across sites which look good, but which don’t rate very highly because they are not focused on the needs of non-churchgoers. By contrast, a good church website is aimed primarily at those who do not yet come to church.

The sort of information which church members may look for on the website is very different. They are more likely to ask questions like:

  • ·         Who is preaching next Sunday?
  • ·          When is the next WELCA/Council meeting?
  • ·          Is the prayer meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday?

Since the questions which church members are asking is so very different from that asked by other visitors, it is almost impossible to write one page which is interesting to both sets of visitors. Either you end up giving church members information they already know, in which case they won’t bother looking at the website very much, or you confuse potential church visitors. The solution is to have different pages for different audiences. For example, to tell people about the Sunday services create one page containing the basic information which an enquirer might need to know (e.g. service times), and then provide a link to a second page which contains detailed information for church members (e.g. who is preaching). If this is done throughout the site then you will achieve your aim of providing a website which is welcoming and informative for both your casual visitors and your church members.

An additional audience

There is a third group of people who will visit your site, namely those people who are already Christians but who don’t go to your church. Perhaps they go to another local church and came across your website, or perhaps they recently moved into the area and are looking for a church. Whoever they are, there is no need to design your website to reach these people. If you have followed the advice given above, your site will already welcome them and provide all the information they need to know.

Defend our freedom to share …

On the web for the past several weeks and months, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act currently before Congress, if passed, would have serious consequences for the internet and would change the landscape drasticly.

The real question is how should society best balance the needs of the copyright holders and the  public using the internet, when sharing content is increasingly becoming the status quo. There are no easy answers.  We all need to be concerned about how this develops. Wikipedia’s FAQ provides a lot of information.

In a talk, Clay Shirky provides some background and brings forth the real issues.

 

A wiki is a tool used on websites for communication.

 

A wiki is a tool used on websites for communication. 

A wiki (Listeni/ˈwɪki/ wik-ee) is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor.[1][2][3] Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include community websites, corporate intranets, knowledge management systems, and note services. The software can also be used for personal notetaking.

Wikis may serve many different purposes. Some permit control over different functions (levels of access). For example, editing rights may permit changing, adding or removing material. Others may permit access without enforcing access control. Other rules may also be imposed for organizing content.

 

The Power of Words

This short film illustrates the power of words to radically change your message and your effect upon the world.

The nine tribes of the internet

Successful Church Websites Know Their Visitors

It is always a good idea to write the content of your church website for those who will be using your website. A lot of times the website is written for the theologian, the church staff or the pastor. Remember who will be reading your site and style your writing for them. So it is very important to style your writing for the various users of your church website.

  • Church members: This group is probably the easiest to write for. They are interested in events that are happening and the photo album because they might find their picture there and want family and friends to come and see. So the information needs to be accurate, up to date, and something they can show their friends and family.
  • The curious: They have very little experience with the church. Most of their knowledge is from what they see in movies, hear in the news and know from what others tell them. Here is an opportunity to share with them a little about who you are, what activities you are involved in and the fact that they may very well fit in. The website is their front door to easily find out more about you and may even encourage them to visit.
  • The New: I told my son that when someone is looking for a church because they just moved into the neighborhood the first thing they will do is check out the churches website. His comment was that is what he did. Since that is the case, what are they checking out? The first question to be answered: Is there a website to begin with?  The second: Is it up to date? The third question: Are they friendly toward kids? How the website answers these question says a lot to the newcomer and if he will even visit your church.

The church member, curious and newcomer have different expectations and needs. When you’re writing content and managing the website and your website incorporates the needs of these groups you will have a successful church website. Guess who is coming to church?

What member info to post on the site?

See Heal Your Church Web Site: HIPAA (HIPPA), Disclosures and your Church Website for some thoughts and warnings about both website information privacy and prayer chain privacy.

Some basic guidelines are:

  • Photos on our site is considered a privilege, and we respect and honor that privilege.
  • Photos are almost always of people at public events.
  • Embarrassing, objectionable or hurtful will not be used. If someone is shy, we ask them before posting the photo.
  • We don’t put full names of children or youth with photos, we minimize the use of full names of adults.
  • Credit is given for those who took a particular photo if desired by the photographer, and we would certainly honor any copyright wishes or restrictions.
  • We will gladly remove any photo immediately upon request.

Getting Started

Step One: Plan
You will need to describe your audience, define your purpose, prioritize your needs, inventory your assets, and garner organizational support. Develop a set of Web content guidelines that meet the needs of your members for privacy and confidentiality, and also adhere to copyright law.

Step Two: Design
Define the content you’d like to start with, and design site navigation with growth in mind. Do an inventory of site features (e.g. congregation e-mail devotional, calendar with different views, private chat for youth, photo albums for congregation events, blogs for reports from congregational trips, private congregation directory, etc.). This will help when you approach the next step.

Step Three: Select
It might be a good idea to use Web site management software or a “content management system” to develop and maintain their site. Depending on the software or system you select and the features you’ve described in step 2, there may be advantages of one Web hosting plan over another.

Step Four: Maintain
Some things to keep in mind when developing a congregation Web site: If you develop a Web site and never update it, this can reflect on your congregation. You can develop procedures for getting the latest information and making sure old information is updated or removed. Maintenance also means promoting your site by registering in search engines and publishing your Web address everywhere. Maintenance also means checking your site for broken links and missing images. Review your site periodically.

Objections to a Church Website

1. We have other priorities:

The purpose of the church is not to build Web sites. Nor to build sanctuaries, purchase organs or projectors, build buildings, or any of the many activities we regularly take part in. The purpose of the church is to reach those who do not know Christ with the message of salvation and transformation, teach them to live a life of obedience and discipleship, and prepare them for their eternal home. A Web presence, like the other things mentioned above, is simply a means to this end. In that regard, a strong Web presence has the ability to strengthen the church’s evangelism efforts, support its discipleship efforts, and engage congregants in works of service for the sake of the kingdom. It has the power to strengthen community and develop strong communication among its congregants. It can be utilized by the stewardship emphasis, to the missions committee, to the worship team, in order to better serve the Kingdom of God. Just as the printing press made the Protestant Reformation possible, the Internet has give the church at tool which makes it possible to live out our mission to go into all the world and make disciples.

2. It costs too much:

Often this is objection raises its head in the discussion of what particular service to use. Many times it leads to an attempt to find a “free” service. Unfortunately, like anything else, you get what you pay for. The cost of a strong, professional Web ministry depends on a number of factors including type of services sought (do you want audio and video streaming, database enabled services, etc.). As a general rule, a small to medium size church could expect to spend about $20 to $30 a month for web hosting. Consider that over 25 million Americans pay $23 a month for basic Internet service through AOL,, and it’s easy to see that the costs are minimal for a congregation. The cost of not having a high quality Web presence can be much higher. Considering the potential of a high quality Web site to attract new membership, the “reward” of reaching one new member will more than pay for the site in his or her tithes and offerings. Of course, the financial rewards are secondary to the kingdom task of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

3. We are a small church:

Today, a Web presence is an equally essential communications tool. The shift to electronic communications has occurred at every level of society, from rural West Texas, where I recently e-mailed a set of pictures of my new house to my mother, to the largest of cities. Even the smallest churches can receive the benefit of using the Internet for communicating to the congregation. Properly used the costs savings alone can pay for the services. Beyond this, the Internet affords small churches the ability to make themselves known to the community without spending outrageous amounts of money for publicity and advertising. For an example of a small membership church which is using the Web to grow see http://stpaulsgaylord.lutheranweb.net/. This church of under 100 members is actively reaching out to the community in a dynamic way through the use of the Web as a communications tool. Using the Web even a small church can have a large impact on the world.

4. We want our church to stay small:

This is an objection which is almost never verbally expressed, but it is often the root of many objections. There are simply a number of church members who do not want to see their part of the kingdom grow. I mention this here primarily as a warning for what can be lurking behind many other objections. The antidote, of course, is a combination of discipleship and leadership.

5. Our congregation is mostly older:

While it is certainly true that a “Grey Gap” does exist in the use of the Internet, the number of older adults accessing the Internet is growing rapidly. This can be attributed, at least to some extent, to the availability of health information on line as well as the desire to communicate with their children and grandchildren. Furthermore, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the Internet is becoming a more prevalent tool among older adults. It is true that a site designed for older adults would require a different set of priorities and foci, but it is certainly not something that should retard the development of such a site. In fact, the very development of a Web ministry presence could be used to educate older adults in the use of communications tools which could keep them connected with family members Potential younger members will not be able to find your church if there is no Web presence. They do not use the yellow pages to look for anything anymore, they use the Web. If you want to exist in their frame of reference, the Web is essential.

6. We don’t have anyone who knows how to program a Web site:

This is something that can be overcome. Probably the two most difficult elements of Web site design are the graphical interface and the organization of information. Don’t let a lack of programmatic expertise stop you from using this powerful communications too to its fullest potential. Leiturgia Communications will certainly help you program and organize your website.

7. We tried it once and it never stayed updated:

A common experience among churches who have delegated their Web ministry to one volunteer is that they become either overburdened or underappreciated. As a result the site suffers and eventually becomes out of date and unused. Several issues must be addressed in order to sustain a strong presence, the first of which is the building of a Web ministry team. Just like any aspect of ministry it is seldom possible for one person to have all the skills necessary to produce excellence. Have you ever heard a choir of one person? Likewise, a team of people working together is essential to keeping a Web ministry presence updated and current. Beyond this, an appreciation of the importance of the ministry presence throughout the leadership is essential to keeping the site current. Ministry units must be trained to effectively use the Web site as a communications tool; likewise the site must be well publicized and repeatedly promoted in order to keep folks coming back. All of this, of course, requires a team of people to accomplish.

8. We don’t want the Internet to replace the church:

The need for human contact is universal, and the importance of corporate worship, discipleship, and spiritual formation is central to the vision of the Kingdom. Simply put, there is no technological innovation that can never replace the communal power of the church. What a Web ministry presence can do is enhance the ongoing work of face to face ministry by connecting and informing people throughout the week. The Internet cannot make a pastor’s sermons better, but they can allow traveling congregants to listen in when they are away. A Web presence cannot transform a ministry team into a group of strong leaders, but it can extend the reach of the ministry team by allowing them to communicate to each other and the congregation more efficiently. In essence a strong Web ministry presence has the potential to strengthen the already existing ministries of the church bye extending their reach, influence, and efficiency.

9. What about privacy and legal concerns:

Another objection that comes up now and then is the issue of protecting people’s privacy. This is an important thing to consider when establishing a Web ministry presence; policies and standards should be developed to address congregant concerns. For example, if you are going to post pictures it is wise to establish standards for picture use, especially when minors are involved. Policies do not have to be complex; they simply need to express how you will protect people’s privacy. While these issues are important and it is important to work through them intentionally and strategically, they are not enough to derail moving forward.

10. The Internet is not personal:

The Internet is by its very nature an impersonal medium. Even when engaging in activities such as instant messaging and chat rooms, there is a wall of separation between the people communicating. That having been said careful planning in developing a Web ministry can maximize the “personality” of the church and help establish connections which can be made in the “real world”.

The basic goal of all of this should be to move people from an introduction to the church to connection with the church.