John Saddington (@human3rror on twitter) and Tony Steward (@tonysteward) presenting here at Ministry 2.0 conference all day. Their first presentation was on the questions to answer and the tensions to address in getting your social media strategy, plan, and project out the door.
I was honored to be invited to participate in Ministry 2.0 again as a presenter. My experience in Austin earlier in the year was fantastic, so I feel privileged to be part of this. What a great opportunity to get to know others interested in Web Ministry and even some solid guys like John Saddington and Tony Steward.
I speak later in the afternoon, but some of the speakers ahead of me are entertaining some great questions from the audience about how to get their organization focused on the right site visitors and how to select the best Content Management System. My hope is to be able to address some of these kinds of questions in the Q&A time after my presentation.
There is a matrix that has been around for a long time that allows you to select the Content Management Systems you have heard about and compare them functionally. Check out CMSMatrix.org to do that comparison. [Update] John mentioned that http://php.opensourcecms.com/scripts/show.php?catid=1&cat=CMS%20/%20Portals is a good option for actually test driving the CMS you are interested in checking out. [/Update]
I’ll include my presentation slides in this post after I speak this afternoon. If anyone has any followup questions on my presentation, post them in the comments to this post.
I have been a user of WordPress since it’s first release. In fact, I used its’ problematic daddy “b2″ before that. When everyone was foaming at the mouth with glee about Moveable Type, I was sticking it out with WordPress. Since then it has become a dream to work with and I recommend it to anyone who wants to self-host a blog.
In fact, for ministries wanting to build a website of less than 25 pages, WordPress is a sensible default since there are now website focused themes like VibrantCMS out there that makes it dead simple. The only thing you really give up in WordPress as Content Management System is photography placement options alongside the text in pages and posts.
So, this morning when I heard again that WordPress would be redesigned in the back-end, I got excited. The dev team has made very few backward steps over the years with the interface and things keep getting better and better. One thing they have managed to do consistently is work well for all types of blogs, whether that be single-blogger once a month posting or multi-author blogs with 25 posts a day. Read the rest of this post...(414 words, 1 image, estimated 1:39 mins reading time)
I quipped on Twitter “Reviewing some websites for people and giving comment. My version of Community Service.”
See, every week people from mid-sized mega-churches ask me a) for referrals of web developers looking for work (I dunno if there are any) b) for general advice on getting a decent website off the ground, or c) how to improve what they have. Much of the time I save the requests and hit them all at once when I am in the mood. Last night though I couldn’t take it any more and went off a bit on one unsuspecting friend who really just wanted a). I kinda feel bad, but there are some big truths in my response that I thought I would share. You are just going to have to show me grace and look past the unprovoked, frustrated tone.
Here is what I said:
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The new job in Florida has been my only non-family focus since arriving here 8 months ago, and it has been an embarrassingly absurd length of time since I have contributed anything to the church technology world. Hoping to get back in the swing of things with blogging and share with everyone some of the stuff we have worked on since my arrival. Won’t be long now, so check back in the next two weeks while I develop a discipline of giving back. While this is way cooler than anything we have done, and the ministry impact is next to nothing, but here is some sweet action to get your mind racing with your own Macbook [Pro] mod:
David Drinnon was kind enough to reference a comment I left on his site in a fine post this morning on building site maps and information architecture. In it he even calls me a friend!
What I love about blogging is that I left a partially thought through comment on his site last week and then he gives me kudos today and places my thoughts alongside his wisdom such that I come out looking like a champ! The reality is that he has some great nuggets in that little post including Web Sort and Adobe’s Website Production Management Techniques.
In a beautiful example of what goes around comes around, I am today beginning work with my team on the Information Architecture for a new site we are trying to crank out by the first two weeks in December. David’s help could not have come at a better time!
LifeFaithFusion.com finally launches this weekend to an audience of 10,000+ folks associated with the ministry of Casas Church and Roger Barrier. My favorite UI designer, Christ Merritt of Pixelight Creative, did the design for me last winter. Some projects take much longer and many more hours than ever anticipated, and this is one of those projects that seemed to never want to end. Unfortunately, I brought a friend named Brian Slezak (of the Web Empowered Church and Church of the Resurrection) down this rocky road with me and I will forever be indebted for his service and amazing grace. In spite of it being a painful project, I am pleased with the functionality of the site and the overall result. The client controls all the content management on this site (which uses Typo3) and created all of the in-page graphics themselves, so Chris and I can’t take credit for any of that. They also completely control the sidebars.
I think the site will be a great free resource for younger pastors and prospective seminarians. I really respect Roger Barrier and his soft-spoken but confident approach in sharing his thoughts on the life in Christ. The site is packed with content including Podcasts, Devotionals, and Sermon Series. One of the podcasts includes my sports pastor buddy Derrek Engeler who brought this project to me in the first place. It is always great to get his commentary on almost anything. Read the rest of this post...(295 words, 1 image, estimated 1:11 mins reading time)
Stuart was kind enough to post a comment asking for helpful hints for building a web site as a lay person. My comment grew larger than the comment window, so I decided to just post this in case it is helpful for small churches using an all lay person team to build their a website.
First of all, Stuart, bless you and all those out there like you with willing hearts who want to contribute something via the web. I pray you can get it done and done in a timely manner.
It is impossible for me to download 7 years of thinking about this stuff into a simple post, but let me get you started with just a few tips: Read the rest of this post...(517 words, estimated 2:04 mins reading time)
Don’t over reach. Understand your churches needs and the expectations of those who care about the project.
Don’t get too many people involved. If it is a small site, keep the total team smaller than 5 … including decision makers.
Know your audience. Is it insiders or outsiders? Is it local people or people new to the area?
Focus on your churches message and mission. What are you on about? What kind of church are you. Use stories and editorial type content to show who you are.
Overall I am incredibly pleased with the outcome of the site. But l am also glad people are commenting about the good, the bad, and the ugly about the site. It’s the best way for us to get better! As I have said before, no website is perfect or will stay perfect. To all those churches out there struggling to get a new site launched, remember that the most important thing is to get something out there that is better than what you have and then improve it continually over time. Having a great visual design and sturdy front-end coding are great foundations on which to build out your site over time.
In other news, we are well on the way to having a Spanish translation in place for the site. We are also moments away from getting the Google Sitemap live. Finally, this week we launched the Stonebriar blog.