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    Best Practices! - Entries tagged "New Features"

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    WedWednesdayOctOctober3rd2012 Volunteer Opportunities Updated
    byDavid Pohlmeier Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    EQUIPPING THE CHURCH TO SHARE ITS STORY

    We recently changed our mission statement to equipping the church to share its story. What better way to generate stories that tell of the exciting work that Christ is doing in your ministry than connecting willing volunteers to your ministry? We are happy to announce that in our latest release, we updated our Volunteer Opportunities feature.

    Volunteer Opportunities Update

    Did you know that an iMinistries website can equip a visitor with an easy way to volunteer? If you answered yes, you are at least aware of the feature, that is great. However, you might also be aware of a previous limitation. Prior to our latest system release, website visitors were required to be logged into your website to be able to communicate interest in volunteering. This is no longer true. Anyone visting the website will now be able to see and communicate with the church easily about volunteer opportunities.

    In addition to that, visitors were presented with a blank volunteer page and were required to click on the Search button to see results. The usability of this page required an unneeded additional step, causing confusion, and potentially missed volunteers. This too, is no longer true. Website visitors are now presented with all opportunities at once. Choosing the search criteria will now filter down those results to a manageable list.



    As with everything our system provides you, opportunities can be sitewide or associated with a specific ministry.

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    WedWednesdayJunJune13th2012 Introducing Multi-Campus Support iMinistries is pleased to announce our powerful new multi-campus church website feature. Churches or organizations with multiple locations can now clearly display content from each campus on one single website. Users visting the website can choose what information they want to see based on the selected campus. Using a feature like this creates a perceived sense of unity for a church. After all, it is one church body, simply worshipping and ministering in different locations.



    Why is this important to Visitors?

    Site visitors know that they go to a multi campus church, but they care most about the campus they attend. Weeding through information that isn't pertinent to them can be a hassle. With this new feature, you give website visitors the ability to set their campus once and display everything based on that selection, nothing more.

    Selecting a campus preference sorts:
    • News
    • Blogs
    • Events
    • Ministries
    • Staff (Coming Soon) Implemented
    • Volunteer Opportunities (Coming Soon) Implemented

    Why is this important to Administrators?

    It makes website administration faster. Admins no longer have to create ministries, news and event items or volunteer opportunities, etc. on each campus website. Create it once, select the applicable campus(es) and your done. 

    Why is this important to your bottom line?

    We've made it affordable and flexible. If you hosted 2 Enterprise plan (10+ Administrators) websites on our Church Website CMS, we just saved you $1,188 per year! This will make any Executive or Financial Pastor very happy.

    Be sure to contact us if you are interested in setting this up on your website. View the pricing details.

    See it in Action

    Harvest Bible Chapel and it's seven campuses located in Chicago, Illinois and it's suburbs uses the multi-campus feature. Take a peek at some screenshots below or visit their website to see for yourself how it works.


    The campus selector



    Our new ministry sorting feature filters by campus



    News (on the left) and events sort by campus preference


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    ThuThursdayMayMay24th2012 iPhone Home Screen Icon
    byDavid Pohlmeier Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment
    Many of the great people who we get to work with on a daily basis provide us with feedback on how our CMS works. Many also provide us with great suggestions. We take all of these suggestions and analyze them and see if it fits into our system.

    Recently, Josh Viveros of Harvest Austin suggested that we provide churches with a way to add their own icon to the website for use on the home screen of an iPhone. It was a brilliant idea so we implemented it.

    While editing your website, go to Site Controls > Site Preference > Design. Here, you will see an item called Touch Icon. Upload a 114 x 114 pixel PNG file and click Save.

    Now, on your iPhone, when a user saves the website to their homepage, it will show the icon you created.

    Check out this video I found on YouTube that shows how to add a webpage to your Home Screen if you are unsure how it works.



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    MonMondayMayMay21st2012 Visually Filter Your Ministries

    Ministries are a driving force in your church. They communicate many things to many people. Unfortunately, the message of a ministry can get lost.

    You want to connect with men, women, singles, couples, young people and old. You also want to connect with people to provide support, freedom, outreach to your community, missions, and more. Why not make them as vibrant on your website as they are in real life?

    Formerly, your ministries page was an over looked page on your website. It was simply a list of your ministries. This was not your fault and we will take the hit. We admit that it was unattractive and didn't provide any real value to a website visitor. That is no longer the case. We are happy to introduce to you the brand new Ministries page.


    We are very proud of this new feature. It gives a very clear way to visualize everything that is going on at your church as well as some amazing interactivity to the person who is checking out or wanting to get more connected with your church. They can intuitively filter based on settings that are under your control.

    Don't waste any time and see for your self by either watching the video below or interacting with it yourself by going to one of our demonstration websites.


    What do you think? We welcome your feedback so post a comment below.
     
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    MonMondayFebFebruary6th2012 Church Location Feature
    byDavid Pohlmeier Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    Among many of the great features that the iMinistries church CMS has to offer, a few of them really stand out as powerful tools for a church or ministry to use. One of them is the location feature--a dynamic Google map that marks your locations.


    Three of our clients use locations especially well. Check out their websites below, and you might be inspired to use this feature for your church or ministry.


    Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches

    First on our list is a Baptist organization in Iowa called the Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Churches (IARBC). According to the IARBC website, their mission is:

    "The purposes of this Corporation shall be to maintain an association of sovereign, Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Baptist Churches; to promote the spirit of evangelism; to spread the Gospel; to advance the Regular Baptist educational and missionary enterprises at home and abroad; to raise and maintain a testimony to the truth of the Gospel and to the purity of the church, and to raise a standard of Biblical separation from worldliness, modernism and apostasy." 

    The IARBC chose to use our location feature to give it's website users a clear and easy to use method of finding churches. In addition to that, they were seeking a simple way to update this list. Because the page is database-driven, there is no special coding or HTML knowledge involved with creating the web page. Updating the location is as simple as updating a few form fields, saving, and letting the CMS do the rest. It's that simple.


    Harvest Bible Fellowship

    Let's now take a look at Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). Here's a description of HBF from their website.

    "Harvest Bible Fellowship is the church planting arm of Harvest Bible Chapel. Passionately pursuing the fulfillment of Jesus Christ's promise to build His church is what we're all about. Founded by Pastor James MacDonald, the Fellowship trains, equips and coaches men to serve as Harvest Bible Chapel Senior Pastors. We oversee the development and launch of new Harvest Bible Chapels and the replant of existing churches into Harvests. We support every Harvest Senior Pastor through ongoing equipping and training throughout the life of their church."


    Harvest attendees traveling on vacations or moving to new areas have used this feature to find a church wherever they are. Harvest Bible Fellowship plants churches all of the world. The location map they've created displays that nicely, and allows for visitors to easily visualize the depth and breadth of their global ministry.



    Entrusted Ministries 

    Another creative implementation of the location feature can be found on the website for Entrusted Ministries. From the Entrusted website:

    To impart to parents a personal, God-honoring vision and biblical plan for family life which acknowledges that they have been entrusted with the nurturing, training, care, protection, discipline and discipleship of their children for the glory of God, while stressing the need for a precious connection and understanding of their child's heart.

    The location map for Entrusted shows locations of local churches where studies are held. Displaying a dynamic Google map is more useful to users than making them sift through location lists.

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    WedWednesdayAugAugust31st2011 iMinistries Church Website Content Management System - Version 1.5
    byDave McCall Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    Our latest release

    On the night of August 29th, we put a new release in place. Usually we like to give you a list of all the exciting things you can do with the new release. Usually our releases have new features, tweaks and things our customers have asked for. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those releases. Sure, there are a few things in here that you might enjoy, but mostly this release was something we needed to do.

    We got a little behind. We built our system over 7 years ago and have made a lot of incremental improvements since. But, the technology underneath our system has been growing up around us.

    A couple weeks ago the Firefox group released version 6 of their browser. Upon testing the system we noticed that the editor that is used to build most of your pages didn’t work in Firefox. It was already having some issues in Chrome and Safari so we needed to upgrade. But to upgrade that component meant we needed to upgrade other things.

    So we put our heads down and worked hard to upgrade our platform from the 7-year-old .Net 1.1 Framework to the .Net 4 Framework. To do this, we had to touch just about every one of the over 200 web pages that make up our complete Content Management System.

    This is probably the biggest release we’ve ever done to our system, even without any major feature announcements. I know that it didn’t do a lot of things for you, but it was hard work for us and we’re feeling very proud of it.

    As you can imagine, this isn’t the kind of thing you do without a large share of potential problems. So, we spent a lot of time over the past two weeks trying everything. We ran the whole system through its paces. And we’re glad we did. We found some issues that were introduced thanks to our changes. We found some issues that have been around for some time. We kept testing until we felt like we’d caught everything we could.

    But it’s almost impossible to find everything. You guys do things with the system that we have trouble anticipating. So all day today we watched carefully. We watched for tickets in our support site. We watched for errors in our error log. (Did you know that every time you or one of your users receives an error message we track that and do our best to incorporate fixes?)

    Well, I’m happy to say that we think we’ve got most of the bugs fixed and that we did it all without your website being down for more than 30 total minutes. We had 5 minutes of time today (around 2 pm Central) where sites weren’t working unexpectedly. We had about 3 minutes where Ministry home pages weren’t working. We had a few issues with emails not being sent out of the system. But as of right now, we are tracking down only 2 last issues and hope to have them fixed by tomorrow.

    So what?

    What’s in it for you? Well, we’re using Microsoft’s latest web technology to power your site. That should mean faster sites. That should mean fewer bugs. Hopefully that means a better experience for you and your visitors.

    But there are a few improvements baked into the new stuff. These include:

    • Our new editor is really pretty slick.
      1. It should work in every major browser.
      2. You can now click a button to open in full screen mode.
      3. The image manager is greatly improved including an image editor.
    • We added the ability to upload thumbnails with your Ministry and feature a ministry as a highlight.

    Now what?

    We’ll be working on our normal round of improvements coming up to the system. Plus, we’re already working on our next major release. Internally we’re calling it “iMinistries 2.0” and I can’t express just how excited we are about it. We’re building the whole site again from the ground up to be faster, cleaner and more flexible than ever. Some of the highlights of what we’ve already done include much greater design flexibility, total integration with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and version control. When we’re ready, we’ll provide some sneak peeks.

    Thank You

    As much as I’m expressing our pride in what has been done, we’re not proud that any of you found bugs or had issues today. We are sorry for that. As usual, our customers have been gracious and understanding. Thank you for that. And, thank you for your continued business.



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    FriFridayAugAugust26th2011 iMinistries Church Website Content Management System Version 1.5 is Coming
    byTravis Hickox Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    Mozilla Firefox updated their browser to version 6 two weeks ago. While Firefox is one of our favorite and most used web browsers, this update created a few issues within our Content Management System. We were happy to report that the update to Firefox did not affect how people viewed or even interacted with your website. However, it severely affected Site Administrators.

    After reviewing the various issues, it became apparent to us that a major update would have to be worked on. You might say that the iMinistries CMS is growing up. Next week we will be releasing iMinistries 1.5. This release will happen on August 29th.

    Calling it 1.5 isn’t by accident. For the last several months, we have been working on an even bigger release to our system that we refer to as 2.0. This will be a game changer and we can’t wait to unveil it. We will begin to update you on those developments later in the year.

    In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the improvements we’ve made with this release. Many of them are under the hood. However, a few will be noticeable improvements to how our system functions. Below are a few of note.

    Browser Support

    This is our biggest update and the one we are most happy about. From the public perspective, iMinistries websites have always worked in the major web browsers. We test every website in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari. From an admin perspective however, this wasn’t always the case. A few key features in the editor didn’t function as expected so we couldn’t say that we supported all major browsers within Site Administration. This is no longer the case! With this release, you can make updates to your website using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari.

    As always, we recommend that you keep your web browser up to date (we’re talking to you, Internet Explorer 6 users!). Check out http://browsehappy.com/ as it lists all the current web browsers and provides links for download.

    Images

    • Upload multiple files at one time using the revised image uploader.
    • Edit images using the Image Editor. This new feature gives you the ability to:
      • Change image opacity.
      • Crop images.
      • Adjust image orientation .
      • Adjust the image size.
      • Control the margin on each side of an image.

    Be careful as you can easily over write your original image.

    Content Editor

    • Full screen editing mode. No more distractions when editing your website. When enabled, the editor will take over your entire screen. Click the button again and it will be reduced to its original size.
    • Paragraph styles now displays the font, color and size which makes it easier to choose.

    Ministries

    • We’ve given you the ability to highlight a ministry.
    • In an upcoming release you will be able to add a thumbnail too.

    Support

    Before we close, we have one request. In a word, this update was extreme. As always, we will be monitoring the error logs to try and fix bugs before they become wide spread. While we have tested everything quite extensively, if you experience a bug simply go to  http://support.iministries.org and submit a ticket. When you do, be descriptive. Here is how.

    Example

    • The URL that the error occurred on - "http://www.iministries.org/ContentEdit.aspx?type=A&site_id=10267&organization_id=0&parent_id=0"
    • What were you doing - "I was trying to create an Ad."
    • The browser, version and operating system - "I was using Firefox 6 on a Mac."
    • What happened - "When I hit save, the page said <and you can copy and paste in the error message that is provided>"
    As always, thank you for your support.
    iMinistries


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    MonMondayFebFebruary15th2010 Your Church Media: Widgets
    byBryan Young Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    What is a Widget?

    A widget is a “chunk” of HTML code which commands content to display on a page. The great thing about a widget is you don’t have to know anything about HTML or writing code to utilize it. You just plug in your information and the Web site embeds content for you.

    What Can I Embed?

    With widgets you can embed (click the links for examples):

    Blogs

    Post entries from any of your ministry website's blogs on any page.

    Blog entries posted on a website's homepage

    News and Events

    Add a widget to your homepage to display your website's latest news and events. Or add a widget to a page or blog entry listing a specific ministry's news and events.

    News and events embedded into a website's homepage

    Photo Galleries

    Show off your ministry website's photos on any page with a gallery slide show.

    Photo gallery embedded in a news item on our demo website

    Products

    Embed your site's products (CDs, T-shirts, DVDs, etc.) inside news items or blog entries.

    Products embedded in a blog entry on our demo website

    Flickr Slideshows

    Incorporate your Flickr photos, sets, and collections into your iMinistries website.

    Flickr slideshows embedded in a ministry website page

    Twitter Feeds

    Display your most recent tweets in an ad and show it site-wide. Or embed it in any page. You can limit the number of tweets shown and add a custom heading ("Pastor Dave's Tweets").

    Twitter feed embedded in an ad on a ministry website's homepage

    Interactive Google Maps

    Enter your ministry location's address to add a Google map on any page (About Us, Contact Us, Ministry Information). Users can zoom in and out and get directions to and from this location, making it easier for visitors to find you.

    Interactive Google map embedded into a ministry website's "Service Times & Directions" page

    YouTube and Vimeo Videos

    Gone are the days of pasting embed codes into your HTML editor. With widgets, just paste your ministry video's ID (found in your URL) and embed vidoes on any page. You control the size of your video, making it possible to embed them into ads.

    Vimeo videos embedded into a ministry website's "Videos" page

    MP3 Players

    Turn any page into a jukebox, a spot for your latest sermons, or a host for your new Podcast. Just upload your MP3 file through Content Administration and paste its URL into this widget and add anywhere.

    MP3s embedded into a ministry website page

    How do I use the Widget Feature on my iMinistries Site?

    You can embed widgets on any page that uses an Editor (news, events, blog entries, pages, ministry descriptions, ads, etc.). Here are the steps to adding a widget:
    1. Create or edit the desired page or item.
    2. Click on the widget button in the editor toolbar.
    3. Select the type of widget you want to embed.
    4. Fill in your information, choose your preferences, upload any files (MP3), and click Add.
    5. Save your page or item. To preview the widget, click on the green arrow next to the item in Administration.

    Free Trial

    We believe the best way to describe our tools is for you to try them out yourself. We offer a 15-day free trial account which will give you a few days to use all of the features available to our paying clients. There's no risk and no obligation. Who knows, you might even enjoy the new control you have over your very own website.

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    MORE INFORMATION ON WIDGETS

    "Web widget" – Wikipedia.org
    Widgets in Action – iMinistries.org
    MonMondaySepSeptember28th2009 Make Your Location Map Interactive
    byBryan Young Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment

    Use the Google Map Widget to Embed an Interactive Map on Your Church Website

    To make it easier for your church website users to visit your ministry in person, consider embedding a map, like the one below, from Google in your About Us section.


    To make a map like what you see above, follow these steps:
    1. Edit or create a news item, page, or event.
    2. Select the Widget button from the Editor's toolbar.

    3. Click on the Google Map link to expand the feature.
    4. Enter in your location's address, the size you want your map, and your desired zoom level and Add.

    5. Change the status of your page to Published and Save.
    6. Bask in your new found knowledge as well as how you now are providing an interactive map to the users of your church website!
    After you save your changes, navigate to your new page and insure you like what you see. If you would like for it to appear differently, go back through the steps that you have just taken and adjust the map accordingly. When users of your website visit this page, they can interact with the map getting very detailed directions.

    TueTuesdayOctOctober14th2008 Streaming Video
    byTravis Hickox Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment
    Adding video to your church website has never been easier. You see, streaming video is not the easiest thing to "serve up" on end-user machines (that is, the people who are surfing on your website). I won't go into the details of:
    • Having the content encoded correctly
    • Uploading your content via FTP
    • Adding a page to your website and then using the HTML editor to add a bunch of code no one really understands
    • Dealing with various end users who have older computers or don't have correct settings
    • A seemingly endless sea of support questions
    By now you are probably familiar with the name of YouTube. Well, I am about to introduce you to two new names that I have just come across. And they are even better, in my opinion. Vimeo and Viddler are your new friends, because they allow you to have much higher video quality and, even more importantly, you are not limited to YouTube's 10-minute-video-or-less limitation.

    Once you have uploaded your video to any one of these providers, check out this video help file on how to add a YouTube video to your website.
    MonMondayJulJuly14th2008 Google Analytics
    byTravis Hickox Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment
    We are excited to offer you the ability to track your church website's hits through Google Analytics. Setting it up is easy and free and the information that Google provides you is, in a word...amazing.
    1. To begin, you must create a Google account . It is free.
    2. After you create your account, go to Google Analytics.
    3. Login with your new Google account.
    4. At the bottom of the screen, click on "Add a website profile."
    5. Next, enable the first radio button titled Add a Profile for a new domain.
    6. Add your url into the URL area.
    7. Click finish.
    8. The next page is the important one. Look at the code that is provide and find your Google tracking code.
    9. Now, go to your website and log into the Administration area.
    10. Click on Site Controls
    11. Click on Site Preferences
    12. Enter in your Google Analytics Account #. It will be in this format - UA-xxxxxxx-x.
    13. Hit Save
    14. That's it! Your reports should begin to populate after 24 hours.
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    ThuThursdayMayMay1st2008 Fill It Out With Highlights
    byDave McCall Tagged New Features 0 comments Add comment
    We believe strongly that your church website can be a great tool for your ministry and help fulfill your ministry goals. As we've discussed before, two of the strongest contributions your site might make are:
    • To connect new people with your ministry
    • To help current visitors/attendees/members find new ways to "plug in"
    Generally, people will visit your website looking for something specific. Let's call this "what they think they want."
    • For someone who hasn't attended, this might be the service times or your statement of belief. 
    • For a current attender, this might be the times of that prayer meeting or the e-mail address of one of your pastors. 
    • For the member, this might be pictures of last weekend's retreat or your worship music archive.
    But each of these visits also represents an opportunity for you to give them "what you think they need to know. Don't miss these opportunities.
    • When the potential attender looks for service times, why not also show them how to become a believer, information about the new believer's class, and a link to a welcome letter or video from your pastor?
    • When a current attender comes to find out about the prayer meeting, why not offer her some information about your membership classes?
    • When a member comes to see pictures, why not show him a volunteer posting for next year's retreat?
    Your iMinistries website has what we call highlights. Highlights are simply "slots" in the margins of a page where you can place a sort of mini-ad for another item on your site. Each highlight shows the item's thumbnail, the title, and a brief summary. Each page can have up to five highlights. Highlights can be explicitly selected or you can have the system present a random highlight on the page.

    Highlights are great for "filling out a page," but their more important goal is to direct visitors to other potentially interesting content. This is, after all, one of the distinct advantages to the Web as a communication vehicle--users can and will click around to see more information. We track the use of highlights in our sites, and we've found that, when they are presented, users click them. Are you using them?