Blog: Church Tech and Web Design
“Hopefully, this blog will reflect the years of experience I’ve had working in the church tech field on church and ministry staff, design agencies, corporate environment, and as a freelance consultant. I am by no means an “expert” (those who give themselves that title often think a bit too highly of themselves and their advice), but I prefer to speak from the perspective of my experience. If you have a topic you would like me to cover on my blog, please don’t hesitate to ask – use this form to request that. If you’ve found any topic I’ve covered to be of use (or if you disagree), feel free to comment on the post.” - Bryan Chalker, Founder and Lead Designer, Bleedingtree LLC.
The topics I deal with on this blog range from church tech and church media, product reviews, best practices for church web design, encouragement in the ministry tech fields, ways to save money as a non-profit and ministry, as well as straight-forward common sense approaches to web design and development. Please feel free to share this blog to family, friends, and co-workers…anyone who might benefit from a little design and tech advice.
A month ago I posted a “thank you” to the ChurchM.ag website for including this blog on their “2012 Top Church Tech Blogs” list. Now I’m including it here, along with a few stand-outs. Check them out if you haven’t already, and make sure to subscribe to their RSS feeds to stay-on-top of things.
I wanted to mention one that is NOT on the list, though…
As mentioned in the previous non-profit discount post on Email Marketing Vendors, there are numerous ways to save if you’re a non-profit, with valid 501(c)(3) documentation. We even give a special discounted rate for non-profits and churches.
This week, I’ll touch on software savings. This is where a huge bite can be taken out of a budget. Not a pretty thing to look at the licensing costs of using higher-end software for your day-to-day tasks. In an upcoming post, I’ll cover several free or low-cost alternatives to these products, which will save even more money for you in the long run.
I need to address something right off the bat, though. You may be tempted to either use a version of these software products you found “free to download” off of a site on line. Please don’t give in to that. Not … Read More »
Time for a bit of a ramp up on the communication to our site visitors. You are now able to pull up our customer chat (look on the lower right of this and every page) and ask away. Question on our prices? Comment on our new site design? Curious who we’re voting for (rhymes with “Hit Cromney”)? Pull up the chat window and let us (most likely “me”, Bryan) know…or if we’re offline, leave the message in the chat window for us to check when we are back online.
Hope it’s a useful addition for our clients and prospective ones.
This is a bit of a promotional post, but it also falls within the realm “low-cost solutions“. And besides, it’s a new service we’re offering. Many churches, small businesses, and non-profits have quick projects – such as banner ads and email newsletter creations, social media promotions, etc. – that are ad-hoc in nature. Often times with little or no notice given…just “oh man, we have a [concert/promo/event/fill in the blank] we just learned about, and we have no time set aside to promote it!“. Believe me…I know it’s a common thing in churches. I’ve had more than my share of those situations. Purchase design hours to address them a little more effectively.
When they arise, it’s often during a moment of flooded priorities and tight deadlines. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to buy a few design hours from … Read More »
A “jpg” (or “jpeg), is a typical file format used for many photos and graphics online. It allows for proper saturation and color gradients to be used, without an large file size. It’s great for photos – terrible for logos. There are several important reasons for this, none of which should be discounted:
I love designing web pages and web sites. It’s a wonderful process that involves wrapping the latest technologies together with creative ideas and design. Who doesn’t love that combination. Well apparently Microsoft, Google, and the rest of the motley bunch of email client creators. The are firmly “stuck in the 90s”. You need to lobotomize your web approach, to remove all those pesky standards that guide your web designs.
Ok. A dark theme on a site can look really nice, sharp, and clean. But it can also be frustrating to many who have poor eyesight, issues with contrasts, or other such issue. The previous color scheme for Bleedingtree has been shelved because of that. The blog has been picking up in audience at a steady pace, and I had been given some feedback, from those who had visited, that the dark was a bit too much…so I lightened thing up.
Churches and other 501(c)(3) non-profits have a unique need for discounts. As their name implies…they are not out to make a profit. They do not survive from a recurring source of income provided by products and services. They are a charitable-focused entity. I personally love the fact that they’re given tax breaks and money-saving opportunities. I even give a hourly discount on design and dev work I do for church and non-profit projects.
You can’t have a productive or efficient website, without a competent method of managing it. The approach to managing a church website is often similar to a corporate one. There are levels of executives, followed by directors, and supervisors – all flanked by the most powerful of them all…the admins. Powerful in the sense of their responsibility.
This is a major honor, from the site that gave me the itch to start this one. ChurchM.ag has been an everyday visit for me for the past 6 months. Not only does it touch on Christian design, marketing, and creativity…but you get Batman Lego Portraits and 250k Book Labyrinths. Needless to say, it has always had interesting content.
Keeping focused on the “why”.
Are you a Christian web designer or other faith-based worker?
I’m not sure about your situation, but for me – I didn’t start learning web design to become the next Jeffrey Zeldman (the first web guy I was in awe of. A geek’s rock star). I started it as a hobby. I always loved messing with my Commodore64 and TI-99, and when I heard of “html”, well, I had to check it out.
Sitting at work one day, I read pages of “learning html” on one of the countless sites that gave free webspace to anyone. I was giddy at my first attempt…an embedded spinning globe animated .gif, stuck on a page of glittering stars. Beautiful. Not the look, but the potential. I was hooked. I knew what I wanted to spend time learning and developing. But I no … Read More »
Are you effectively reaching the church visitor from your website?
There is a question that should be addressed by every church who is talking about getting their site up and running (or working on a revision)…
Are you effectively reaching the church visitor on your website?
Or are you just reaching for members?
I know, I know…you are aiming at everyone. There are several considerations when reaching out to those who are not members – the church visitor. Think of the question – reaching “visitors” is an appeal to bring in a segment that that isn’t a part of your congregation. Reaching “members” is a way to communicate events and focused content to those already in the know. A good church site needs a balance. It needs to be “accommodating” to both. The approach you … Read More »
By now, everyone has heard of Dropbox – the file sharing – public and private – app that can reside, sync, and generally “make nice”, with all of your gadgets. Now you can learn how to leverage it to host files for your website, to keep your bandwidth in check.
Are you looking for a communication tool your sunday school classes or small groups within the church, can use to communicate and share ideas, prayers, etc.? The Table Project is an effective, no-cost, small group site for your church.
I first heard about this “app”, over a year ago on Twitter. Being one to jump on any new social app I’m able to, I checked it out. After 10 minutes, I had set up a “table” site for the church I was on-staff with at the time, which included 3 groups (1 private), and 10 invitations sent out to other staff members. I’m not exaggerating - and it doesn’t require a tech degree to become know your way around the interface.
Small group sites may seem daunting to set up, with passwords, permissions, etc., but the Table Project help provide the organized path to handling just that. Well-designed, easily navigable, and … Read More »
I want to start collecting emails to send to…or I want to send a “graphical” email instead of just text.
How do I do this?
While not at the volume level it was a few years ago – due to the influx of other similar mediums such as Twitter, Facebook, and texting – email communication is still an effective and low-cost way to get your message out.
Sending a mass email through your email client (such as MS Outlook), is an awkward and dangerous way to handle this on your own. Awkward, as there are no built-in tools to manage bad emails, reporting on opens, etc.; dangerous, because if those you send to ever report your email a SPAM, you are likely to be blacklisted as a sender. It is for hit reason, that email vendors have become the preferred way to … Read More »
Wufoo is a perfect fit.
Wufoo is a wonderfully capable “form management” app, that’s been re-enforced and revised over the last couple of years. It basically handles form creation, data collection, payment processing, and reporting of all collected data. Exceptionally easy to work with – not only for designers – but for no-tech savvy site editors.
One of the beauty’s of using Wufoo on your site, is that, while it can be utilized through a built-in API (for serious power and fliexibility), it is not required. The standard embed code associated with each form you create – using JS or iFrame – is all you need to place it on your site.
The way to do it through Wufoo, is pretty straightforward.
Create the HTML email in Dreamweaver/Textedit/whatever you use. Add any images, links, etc. you need. Make sure to only take what is between the tags, as the … Read More »