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Starting a Parish Website

In this article we provide some ideas on building a Parish  web site firstly you need to consider the following?

What is the point of your website?

The answer “to tell anyone anything they want to know” needs to be refined!

Best practice: simple and up-to-date is far better than complicated and neglected.

Spending time thinking about your website is an important first step. What is the key purpose of the site? Many try to put ‘everything’ on the website which makes it hard to navigate, maintain and keep control of content. At the very least you need to establish the following:

  • Who are the key audiences for your site?
  • What do you want to tell them & how does this differ for different groups?
  • Who will co-ordinate the site?
  • How will it be reviewed and evaluated?

Audiences

Your ‘audience’ — the people that would read your site — is made up of a number of different groups. Regular churchgoers and people visiting for a wedding need different information. It should be easy for people to find what they need — this makes the site welcoming.

Who fields enquiries for your church? Ask them what they’re asked most frequently, and by whom. Chances are it won’t be “how do I find faith in Jesus?” but something more practical, like “does your church have a toilet?” or “where can I park when I come to a wedding?” You could hold a short meeting with your administrator, vicar or youthworker — anyone who has regular contact with people asking questions to find out what’s most requested in your context.

Sketching out who might read your site, and the information you can provide for them (even if only a back-of-a-napkin exercise) will help you shape the site and make decisions about where to start. It can also save you money and time, and avoid creating pages on the website that are never read.

Site co-ordinator/webmaster

Churches sometimes struggle to keep their sites up-to-date because they rely on one person to do all the work. That might be the parish priest — who wants overall control of all content, but has never quite got time to make the updates; or it might be the keen technical person who does not want to share the workload. Equally difficult can be attempting to write the site by committee.

If you are lucky enough to be able to identify perhaps two or three people to work as a small team, this can work well both for sharing the responsibility and ensuring continuity if the one and only webmaster is no longer available.

If you’re the Parish Priest it is tempting to want to vet absolutely everything — but do be aware if you find yourself being the cause of delays in updating content once the site is up and running.

Domain names

Ideally your website should have a domain name that reflects the name of the church. You can choose and register these through a number of different registries for a small fee. You only need register with one. Churches tend to use the org.uk extension but you can have more than one, so you could be www.stmatthew.org as well as www.stmatthew.org.uk. Remember that this domain name — the URL — will appear in print, noticeboards, pew sheets etc, so the simpler and less easy to get wrong it is the better.

Best practice is to register the domain to the PCC and not an individual, which saves problems later on if you want to transfer the registration or make a change.

Nominet.org.uk oversees the way UK addresses are registered and there’s useful guidance on their site on how to choose a registrar.

Making it happen

You have several choices.

If you have finances, but no time or volunteers, a commercial enterprise can put a site together for you. There are some that are specifically Christian, or any local business may be able to help. Be clear on what you want — off-the-shelf packages can sometimes contain many bells & whistles you won’t need. You don’t need to create a second Facebook for people. Facebook already exists.

If you have volunteers and limited finance, you can either create a site from scratch or use one of the free, or cheap systems for doing so. Squarespace, Joomla, Weebly, Blogger and WordPress are all ways to use pre-defined building blocks to put your site together. Many churches use one of these as they remove the need for detailed technical knowledge, but do allow a degree of personalisation with various widgets and themes.

A third related way is to use a web hosting company which installs a WordPress framework, allowing more flexibility and email addresses/mailboxes. The orange county web design Associates is one that provides such a service.

A big advantage of the WordPress-style approach is that the sites will automatically adjust for optimal viewing when on a phone or tablet, not a full-size computer screen. One way to find the right one for you is to find another website you like and ask the owners who they engaged and how they built their site.

Content

Absolutely vital content that your website needs (do these first)

  • Location (a Google maps link is a very convenient way to show location) – add your postcode too for those using sat nav
  • Contact details — if you use a web form, who will respond to enquiries?
  • Service times, and brief details including whether there’s separate children’s work
  • Brief information about what else goes on during the week
  • Parking, toilets and other practical information (wheelchair access/hearing loop etc)
  • The fact you’re a Catholic church.

Things that are useful (add these later)

  • Introduction to what happens in church for visitors or the terrified
  • How to get married or request baptism/christening
  • Parish news — but only if you can keep this up to date perhaps provide a pdf of the parish bulletin
  • Longer detail on weekday groups or meetings
  • Pictures of ministry team/key staff
  • Links to the Diocese & other church sites
  • What Christianity is all about – there are lots of sites for ‘seekers’ you can link to, which saves you writing the content from scratch.

Nice to have, if you have the resources

  • Sermons
  • Church history/records available
  • Articles from parish magazine
  • Charities you support
  • Links to other local churches / places of interest
  • Any interesting architectural features or anyone’s pet project e.g. a catalogue of your silverware

A few words about words

Best practice is to keep the pages as jargon-free as possible. When you’re familiar with church words, it’s easy to forget how obscure some (many) of them are to the wider public.

Hints and tips

The building might be beautiful but what the people do is more important than the fabric. It’s harder to show a sense of community or the work of the Holy Spirit than it is to show nice stained glass windows — but at least try.

Weekly updating is fine. That might coincide with the day your bulletin is prepared, for example. Some systems like WordPress allow you to schedule updates in advance to appear automatically.

Short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read on screen. People won’t scroll through reams of text. Less is more… If you’re writing a letter for the website, aim for 150-200 words maximum. A picture really does speak a thousand words.

It’s fine to put pictures of children on your website as long as you (a) have parent/carer consent and (b) don’t name the children. Make sure you follow your parish’s safeguarding policy.

Best practice: However your site is produced, make sure it works as a mobile site too — so many people use smartphones or tablets now.

A few things to avoid

  • Publish pages once they’re ready — not with an ‘under construction’ image.
  • ‘Click here to enter’ or animated or musical landing pages annoy people.
  • Pictures that are squashed or stretched or pixellated look silly. If the picture isn’t the right size, don’t use it.
  • Hit counters. They’re unreliable and they’re very 1990s.

If you use WordPress or similar, stick to the fonts that are installed with each ‘theme’ (overall design). They will render well on different devices because they are scalable.

Evaluation

Once your site is up and running you will want to know how it is being used. Google Analytics provides a free way to measure the way people use the site — a far more robust method that the ‘hit counters’ you see. There are comprehensive instructions on how to get started at www.google.com/analytics. You can see which page people go to first, how long they spend on it, where they go next – and perhaps also importantly, what isn’t being looked at.

Google search engine optimisation (SEO)

SEO is about making sure people can find your site when they search for it. You may be offered a paid-for service, but you probably don’t need to do this. There are good instructions on how to submit your site so it appears in search results.

Starting a Charities web site

Media Design Associates  have designed a number of charity websites over the years and from our research we’ve found seven key points to an effective charity website. If your planning a charity website ensure that you cover these.

1. Ensure a clear mission

It’s important to present clearly the charity’s mission as soon as the visitor arrives – A tagline or message to sum up what your charity is about – This gives the visitors a quick an immediate idea of why the organisation exists, who it is helping and effectively how they (the visitor) might be interested in supporting.

2. Make it easy to Donate

Make it clear, make it visible, make it easy to make donations – make the donate button clear and obvious – this is ultimately one of the key end goals of visitors to a charity website and the website should do what it can to improve conversion of site visitors to donations or other forms of support.

3. Visualise the people you are benefiting

As we all know photos and videos can say hundreds of words – They clearly help visitors to understand who the charity is benefiting or working with. Visualising helps to generate some form of emotional connection, helping to engage the visitor in the charity’s goals and aspirations.

4. Communicate, keep in touch and share with people

It is important for a charity website to provide an easy way for visitors to keep in touch – to allow you to nurture them by sharing information on all the good the charity is doing and all the support that’s needed to continue the good. Get visitors to sign up to email wwwsletters, provide clear access to Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts such as Pinterest. Help people share your information so that it can be distributed far and wide – getting your key messages out there to more people. Look at RSS feeds to deliver wwws from the charity.

5. A clear understanding of your audiences and their needs.

Whether that’s information for volunteers and donors or teachers or press a charity website design must clearly sign post the different audiences to the information that will be of interest to them. Ensure the information they are looking for is clearly laid out, goes some way to answering their questions and enables the charity to fulfill its goals.

Charity websites have a number of different audiences and those audiences will have different familiarisation with the charity. For example on the one hand you have supporters, donors, and volunteers who might be very aware of what the charity does. You will though have another audience who will be very much on an information finding visit when they arrive at the website. What is the charity all about and ideally if I’m engaged how can I get involved. A third audience could be the actual people who benefit from the charity and whom the charity support. A charity web design has to support all of these groups.

6. How you can get involved

Another key element to a charity website design is clearly presented information to donors, fundraisers, sponsors. Plus sharing all the other ways that people can get involved with your charity. Keep clear and concise with plenty of calls to action.

7. Ensure the design is consistent with your branding, culture and organisation.

Like with all branding it is important to build on a base of solid values and ensure you are always driving a consistent look through. Make sure the design relates to the subject matter. Like all touch points it should build consistently on the branding of the organisation and its values. It should be reflective of the culture and organisation of the charity. An example of this is Carlson Knives.

Cheap Web Hosting Services

Cheap web hosting services are mainly sought after by medium and small business owners. Once you have decided to get the web hosting services for your business or any individual requirements, you should look for the cheaper option at the beginning. As there are numerous other expenses related to a business, the cheap hosting services will help you maintain a balance. Now the web host mainly provides you with certain space on the server where you can store up the files containing the codes and other features of the website. The cheap web hosting is probably the best way to start off with a new website. It takes little research and market knowledge to find one.

While selecting a cheap web hosting company make sure you are going to get quality service as there are some fraudulent companies who offer below quality service at lower prices. Never compromise with the server quality, required amount of disk space and bandwidth as these three are the main features of any website which keep it functioning smoothly. In fact there are certain cheap hosts which offer facilities that are almost similar to the free ones.

The shared web hosting is one of the cheaper options. Here you have to share the server with other companies who get their hosting service from the same provider. This is little risky as all files are exposed on one server and hence it becomes easy for the hackers to access them. Reseller hosting is another option where the hosting company purchases service from a big company and sells it to the end users like you at a cheaper rate. They buy the space on wholesale rate and pass on the benefits to the customers which benefit both mutually.

Those who need to add certain extra features on the site should look for web hosting services that are moderately reasonable at price but offers all add-ons required. These include shopping carts, polls, communities etc. The bandwidth should be higher if you are aspiring to become a large business shortly. It is essential to handle the web traffic which will probably increase in leaps and bounds shortly.

Database is another important aspect especially when you are running a business website. Before getting a cheap web hosting service ask them whether they are allowing you to store multiple databases or not. You should also get the facility to open multiple email accounts on your website for business communications.

Do not ever get carried away with the lucrative advertisements shown by the web hosting companies. A great way to find the authentic one is going through the web hosting reviews from reliable sources. These reviews are sometime written by the users who have already experienced the quality of services from various companies. This helps you to understand the pros and cons of web hosting.

This is not at all tough to get cheap web hosting but you should not compromise on the facilities as they are essential for the site to run smoothly.

Top Graphic Design Software Programs

Graphic design refers to artistic and professional tasks which focus on visual communication and presentation in order to communicate an idea or concept. An assortment of methods is used to create and combine symbols, images and words to create a visual depiction of ideas and messages. A graphic artist/designer is one who does the designs graphics. Graphic design software programs provide all of the professional and creative tools that one will need for drawing, photo editing, web graphics, logos, page layout, painting, image design and editing, illustration, and other design processes.

There is no one best digital design computer program. However, there are specific software programs that are better for certain graphic design tasks. One should choose programs for digital design based on the task that will be performed.

Professional graphic designers tend to use graphic designing software that contain page layout software, graphics software, and word processing software. Adobe products of graphic design applications such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign are a few of the best graphic design software. As well, Corel products are top selling products of graphic design software programs. Top Corel products include CorelDRAW, Corel Ventura layout software, and Corel Photo-Paint.

Microsoft produces Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Office Publisher which is used in page layout for print. Quark Press Serif produces a number of Web design applications for graphics, but the primary graphic design software application is Serif Page Plus. The latest versions from Adobe, Corel, and Serif can be downloaded or purchased as a hardcopy.Thanks for reading and please click here for more information on pet lifecare.

A few top software programs for graphic design include:

Avanquest Design and Print Business Edition: This software allows designers to create and publish various sales and public relations materials such as greeting cards, postcards and flyers.

Greenstreet Publishing Studio: This design software allows one to make documents in a number of languages. One can edit photos with added filters, borders and image effects.

Broderbund Print Master:
This software is filled with templates such as brochures, flyers, posters and other office forms. Photo and image editing is included. It is very use-friendly.

Print Shop Pro Publisher: This award-winning program allows one to edit photos and images, produce unlimited designs, and use clip-arts for a variety of projects.

Print Artist: This software contains a broad range of images, design, templates and fonts.

Graphic Design Software for Photo-Editing and Illustration: Adobe and Corel provide most of the professional level graphics software choices. Bitmap graphics tools are needed for working with photos, scans, or other images. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, Corel Paint Shop Pro, and The GIMP are top choices.

With the right digital design software, you can create just about any print or Web design project.More info at RestEasily.com

Keyword Research

If you are at all interested in getting more people to see whatever it is you’re putting on the net, you have to know about Keywords and how they work. If you’ve spent time in the blogosphere you are probably amazed by the number of people there are out there who complain about not being able to make money on the net or not getting their stuff higher on hit lists. But if you read between the lines of what they are saying it becomes obvious they don’t have any understanding of keywords at all. There is a new field of study out there — Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — focused on techniques that will yield effective placement on hit lists. In earlier times Webmasters figured out that by loading up a webpage with Keywords they could force a higher placement but the Search Engines like Google and Yahoo caught on and are now constantly changing the technology they use to produce their hit lists to minimize cramming and take other things into account. But Keywords remain as a major driving force behind internet profit.

What is a Keyword?
A “Keyword” can be broadly defined as whatever an Internet user enters into a Search Engine to get a result. As such, a “Keyword” can actually be a phrase and using phrases has become more common as the Internet has gained in popularity. Time was when entering “dog training Miami” into a search engine would produce a manageable hit list, but no more. Users are getting more specific with their search terms. Today users are more likely to enter “training a German Shepherd to fetch” into the engine. Okay, you have an ecommerce site offering a variety of dog training products. How do you use Keyword Research to generate more traffic to your site? To get you in position to deal with that question, you first need to know a little about the laws of supply and demand as they relate to Internet Marketing.

Keywords: Supply and Demand
Internet Users provide the demand, Internet Websites provide the supply for adrafinil uses. A “hot” keyword — and remember this can be a phrase — is one for which there are more requests from users than there are sites that contain the keyword. To make it simple, you can come up with a great keyword but if it’s already appearing in thousands and thousands of sites, the competition for the demand from users can make the keyword almost useless. Finding keywords with high demand — lots of users entering the keyword — and low supply — not that many websites containing the keyword — will give you maximum impact.

Getting Started with Keyword Research
Given the size and complexity of the Internet world today it is simply not realistic to think you’re going to be able to do much of anything here without help. So where do you go? Enter “Keyword Research” into your favorite search engine and dig through the hits. You’re looking for software programs that do Keyword Research for you. There are free versions out there, but, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The major problem with most free versions is they do not give you any supply information on how to buy youtube views. WordTracker is a popular Keyword Research program and its free version will give you up to 100 of the most frequently used keywords for a given category, but nothing about supply. And remember, the best keyword in the world may not help if too many Websites already use it.

There are some experts out there who will tell you to start using Google Adware’s Keyword Tool as a starting point. This is good advice since Google has more than 70% of the Internet Search Market, but this tool does not give supply information. Use it as a vehicle to get you into the game, but ultimately you should think about exploring the paid versions of Keyword Research software that will provide both demand and supply information. Good luck in your Keyword Research!

Does Your Website Need a Redesign?

You may have a beautiful website, it may win awards for excellence in design, but unless the designer has taken into account the principles of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you may need to consider a redesign. You may have an old website, it does its job, it tells people about your company, but it’s slow and the content, it’s a bit out of date. In both cases, you definitely need to consider a redesign.

Both websites will struggle to get the volume of traffic that they could receive. The new well-designed site may get traffic for those looking specifically for that site, but anyone using a keyword search for your product or services won’t find you.

The older site with out of date content loses out because the Search Engines think (due to the lack of fresh content) that the site is dormant or dead. Both of these websites could receive great traffic and a potentially lucrative increase in business, but without consideration of SEO, they won’t get any share of that possible income.

So what should one look for in a site that might need a redesign?

All Flash
Although there have been significant advances in Search Engine technology and they are beginning to read some flash, a site that’s all flash is likely to be dreadful for Search Engines. They will be pretty, but the Search Engines won’t rank them highly because the content is essentially unreadable. But what about major corporations that rank highly but have flash-only sites? These sites have such a high rate of linkage that their flash content probably doesn’t matter, unless you can compete with a major corporation, an all flash sites is a no go.

Frames
Frames in your website make it difficult for search engines to index its pages. What’s more, human visitors really struggle with frames, they’re difficult to read and it’s hard to get an impression of the site. Some browsers don’t even support frames, meaning your site is entirely unreadable for those potential customers.

Splash Pages
Web designers using splash pages really make a visual impact on the visitor. Imagine the entire webpage as an animated page, straight out of a cartoon. Very impressive. Unfortunately, from an SEO point of view, they’re horrible. Splash pages generally contain little or no text content; have no links and full of flash and other software which the Search Engines still find difficult to assess for a ranking. You may impress with your Splash Pages, but kiss goodbye to many potential customers.

Slow Loading
Very simply, a slow loading page puts off both human visitors and search engine crawlers. Human visitors may not have the patience to wait for the pages to load and search engines almost always rank the faster loading pages above the slower ones. If your site has slow loading pages, they need replacing.

Out of Date Content
First, the Search Engines will simply ignore this site as if it no longer exists. It may have been ok in the past to leave your content for months without updating it, but these days, it will soon slip off the radar without regularly updated content. What’s more, nothing puts off a human visitor more than out of date content.Learn more at .

If your site contains any of the above SEO problems, you need to implement a redesign; it’s costing you potential income.

Google Adsense

If you have a Website up and you are not now using Google Adsense then you have probably had friends and relatives tell you it’s something you should look into. Okay, what is Google Adsense? How does it work? Will it work with your website? Is it right for you?

What is Google Adsense?
Simply put Google Adsense is a sophisticated software application that selects and displays commercial advertisements on your website. Google contracts with advertisers who supply them with a variety of types of ads they want put up on the web. Google software searches the web for appropriate sites and puts up and manages the ads. So how do you know what kinds of ads might end up on your site?

How Does Google Adsense Work?
The assignment of ads to your site is far from random. There is a complex search engine within the Google Adsense application that scans the pages of your site for frequently used words — keywords. The engine also scans the layout of your site for white or “open” space, formatting, font sizes and so on. The language of your site and the location of visitors who come to the site — traceable via the user’s IP address — are also taken into account during the ad selection process. The ads ultimately placed on your website will be relevant to the content of your site and the geographic location of your visitors. Suppose you are a life-long dog trainer who has put up a site on tips and techniques for the training and general maintenance of dogs. You rarely, if ever, have Asian visitors. The vast majority of ads that will appear on your site will relate to products and services of interest to dog enthusiasts — and you won’t see any ads from a dog best food dehydrator & manufacturer in China. The ads will also be appropriate to your sites layout — using mostly sidebars. You should know, however, that if you have an e-commerce site — if you are selling products on your site — you may end up with ads from competitors. But these can be filtered.

When a visitor to your site double-clicks an ad they see there, an electronic cash register at Google “rings” — the advertiser pays Google a fee for each visitor redirected to their site from the ad on your site. And Google turns around and pays you a portion of that fee. Google Adsense gives you the opportunity to generate revenue without doing anything beyond maintaining a good website — which you are probably already doing. So why in the world would anyone not want to use Google Adsense? Especially since the service is free — all you have to do is go to http://www.google.com/adsense and sign up.

Is Google Adsense Right for You?
If the only visitors to your site are your grandparents, parents, and a smattering of friends, Google Adsense is probably not for you and your best band saw site. The key determinants of success with Google Adsense are quality and quantity of content, and number of visitors to the site. Obviously the two go together — interesting and informative content attracts more visitors. If your website is not quite there yet, look to improve the content on your site. In this game, Content is King. Boring, stale, and out of date content generates fewer and fewer visitors. There are sites available on the net to help you generate more traffic as well. Good luck with Google Adsense!