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    Best Practices! - Entries from May 2012

    Home - Blog - Best Practices! - Entries from May 2012
    MonMondayMayMay28th2012 Real-Time Engagement: Using Instagram for Your Church or Ministry
    byBryan Young Tagged Social Media Technology 0 comments Add comment

    Back in April, Facebook made waves by purchasing the photo sharing app Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. With over 30 million users on iPhone alone (they've since launched an Android version of the app), the Instagram+Facebook partnership commands a substantial online audience.

    So how can this audience be leveraged to engage those who care about your church or ministry? Is it worth spending time and resources on yet another online trend? What makes sharing photos through Instagram different or better than doing the same on Facebook?


    WHY USE INSTAGRAM?


    1. IT'S VISUAL
    People love images. They tell a story—your story—through the emotions they convey. A smiling child at summer camp. An exploding confetti cannon at Easter. A joyful new believer, post baptism. Photos have the ability to record the spirit of a moment better than words ever can.

    2. IT'S INSTANT
    Online content's shelf life is measured in seconds (and continues to dwindle by the day as people grow more "connected"), so posting pictures of events the day after they occur may already be considered outdated.

    Instagram allows you to engage people in real time, as you experience it. It only takes a few seconds to snap a photo with your phone, apply a filter, and share with your followers.

    3. IT'S SHARABLE
    The app lets you pair social media accounts to your feed so you can automatically display your Instagram photos via your Facebook and Twitter accounts. People can then easily and quickly share it with their friends through these avenues. Using hashtags (like #goodfriday or #summercamp) also allow for trending and findability in various feeds.

    4. IT'S PERSONAL
    Most mobile photos are candid and authentic-feeling. They bring an aura of intimacy not usually communicated through other photos. You can take advantage of this by giving people an inside look into your special events, making them feel like they have a deeper level of participation. A photo from an event speaker looking out into the audience may garner more impact than a generic picture of the speaker from an audience member.


    HOW DO I USE INSTAGRAM?


    CHECK IT OUT
    Play around on your personal account to learn the ins and outs. Follow your friends and make a note of what makes you go "ahhh!" Try out each photo filter and different lighting and composition techniques.

    PLAN IT OUT
    Instragram's strengths lie in presenting instant, candid, personal moments—utilize that strength in your strategy for this medium.

    LAUNCH IT OUT
    Start an account for your church or ministry and sync your social media accounts. Introduce your account across your communication platforms to gain followers.

    DELEGATE IT OUT
    Find some people in your ministry already using Instagram effectively (especially those who have deeper behind the scenes access, like pastors or worship leaders). Give them your account login information and draft them into service with a few assignments.

    SEND IT OUT
    Start taking compelling photos and share them on your accounts. Experiment to see what gains more attention and shares. Rinse and repeat.


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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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    MonMondayMayMay14th2012 Above the Fold - Should I Worry About It?

    As a web designer there are a few "suggestions" that clients throw at me all the time.

    • Can you make my logo bigger?
    • Can we have only pictures and no text?
    • Can we have a flash website?
    • Can you be sure to keep everything "above the fold?"

    In this post, I'd like to address the concept of above the fold.

    The term comes from back in the days of printed newspapers. The best photographs and most attention grabbing headlines were placed above the newspaper fold to entice buyers to purchase that particular issue. There was literally no way to see what was on the bottom half unless you made the purchase, costing you money.

    For years now, the term above the fold has been used to represent the information that is placed above 600px on a website. According to the people who use this term, users aren't willing to scroll on a webpage. The fact of the matter is that this does not cost the website visitor anything other than a quick flick of the finger on the scroll wheel. It's free, unlike a newspaper. There is no reason someone won't look below the fold unless you have a poorly designed website.

    Take a second and read this quick post called "Life Below 600px" by Paddy Donnelley. I subscribe to the concept of the build up. Simply put, provide information and graphics that a website user will want to see. Then entice them to scroll down and want to see more by even more great graphics and written content. Maybe the best example you can find out there on the internet is the website for Charity Water. I want to scroll on just about every page on this website. The data is presented so well. There is breathing room around everything and pages have important information 3000px down. I saw it though.

    We analyze the statistics and how our iMinistries website is interacted with on a regular basis. We've also noticed on all of our pages, users are willing to scroll. With the above the fold concept you'd think that most of the clicks to our "Free Trial" or "Pricing" button would happen only at the top of this page. Clearly, we are getting many clicks all the way at the bottom. We believe this is because we've presented the information on this page in a simple, clean  visual way and have provided content that our website visitors want to see.



    On a Church Website, what do you think should be above the fold?

    • Important calls to action
    • Good graphics or pictures
    • The main website navigation
    • Some well written, SEO friendly text
    Spend some time on good copy and good graphics and persuade users to scroll and they will. A successful church website needs both of those to encourage interaction.

    If you'd like to read up on what some industry and research experts have to say, I'd encourage you to check out these articles.
    1. Blasting the Myth of the Fold
    2. The Myth of the Fold: Evidence from User Testing
    3. Utilizing the Cut-off Look to Encourage Users to Scroll

    And finally, check out this article written in 1997! It even suggests that users are willing to scroll.



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    ThuThursdayMayMay10th2012 Galilee Responsive Church Website
    byDavid Pohlmeier Tagged Church Template 0 comments Add comment

    Today we are pleased to announce our latest addition to our growing list of free responsive church website templates. In addition to Jericho and Olivet, we now offer Galilee.



    Galilee features

    • Responsive layout
    • Tablet friendly design
    • Mobile friendly design
    • jQuery enhancements
    • Custom fonts
    • Easy customization

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    TueTuesdayMayMay8th2012 Olivet Responsive Skin (re)Release Lately, we've been working on creating our new free website skins using responsive layouts. We released Jericho a few weeks ago and will soon be releasing Galillee. Today, we are announcing the (re)release of Olivet as a responsive skin.

    Responsive church designs are websites that scale to fit any screen size. It looks good on computer screens, phones as well as tablets. Each even has it's own layout.

    If you are wanting to change over to the responsive version of Olivet follow these steps:
    1. Log In to your website.
    2. Expand Site Control.
    3. Click Site Preferences.
    4. Click Design.
    5. Change your skin to Responsive Olivet Skin.
    6. Follow our support files to finalize the setup.
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    MonMondayMayMay7th2012 Free Stock Photos and Banners for Church Websites [RESOURCE]
    byBryan Young Tagged Church Design 0 comments Add comment

    We understand that church website administrators are usually understaffed and overworked. We've been there. That's why we're always on the lookout for tools and resources to make your job -- maintaining a great-looking, useful church website -- easier and more enjoyable.


    Recently, I ran into the website, CreationSwap. This great resources offers churches free and stock graphics and photos for download and use on websites, bulletins, brochures, and other promotional materials. They also offer Christian artists a place to network, discuss, critique, and freely share or sell their art.

    If you lack the design expertise, or access to a graphic designer, check out CreationSwap for website banners and photos. Below are some of our favorite free images.

    Photos

       
       

    Banners

       
       

    Do you have favorite images from CreativeSwap? Have you used their photos or banners in the past? Share your experiences in the comments.

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