A quick look at the Valdosta website

Responding to Anna’s comment: Given that I went to the University of Georgia you might not think I would have anything nice to say about Ultima Thule Valdosta, but the state university there is quite good, and (as we all know in the Peach State) that’s where they grow the football players.

In fact, Unitarian Universalist Church of Valdosta‘s site does what it ought, and that’s what makes it good.

A quick bit of terminology: above the fold. Imagine a webpage is like a newspaper. It comes to you folded so that you see the top half of the front page when you get it. More important stuff belongs at the top, less important stuff at the bottom. Indeed, one of the winning things about the Clifton Unitarian site is that there was no below-the-fold.

The Valdosta site keeps 90% of the visitor-vital information above the fold. Pull up the phone number and email address, and convert the text in the banner image into real text, and that’s done. I’d move everything historical on the front page to a designated page (and since there’s already a nice one, it wouldn’t be hard.)

Plus, I’d want to see the text sizes and fonts harmonized and perhaps one or two very low bandwidth pictures of church activities, but it is a good website and I would hate to see it spoiled by becoming too “clever.” Lastly, it was on the list of those church website that knows how to handle a Geocities account.

Good going to your web designer, and best wishes to y’all below the gnat line.

The best welcome to a small church?

Yesterday, in a fit of enthusiasm, I reviewed each website for United States Unitarian Universalist Association membership congregations thirty-five members and fewer, and those which are aspiring for membership, known as “emerging congregations.” (I excluded federated churches on the grounds that the total parish was, in each case, larger than thirty-five.)

Why did I review these? And what did I find? And who did best? Read further and see.
Continue reading “The best welcome to a small church?”

Some programs for church work

Now that I’m getting used to Linux, and particular the Mandrake 9.1 distro, I’m learning to compile software – software most useful for church work.

In particular, I have found software for printing sheet music, advanced desktop publishing, and databases, plus the server-side church administration software I mentioned earlier. Just a few notes for what to expect – once I get them figured out.

Stay posted.

An offer: church membership management software

OK, here’s the deal. If you are a member of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, and are serving a church or membership organization that needs new membership software, I’ll be happy to let you try out my new toy, Infocentral, a “PHP/MySQL membership and management database intended for use by churches and non-profit organizations to track members, families, groups, donations, etc.”

The nice thing about it is that you don’t have the software on your home or office computer, but access it with a web browser. (That is, it is run from the server.) This strikes me as being especially useful for congregations that don’t have an office or paid support staff (and which have volunteers who administer the church from home) and so this is keeping with my interest of using technology for mission. I have the software installed on a server and will give the first ten colleagues who ask access to it. An all-access dry run, if you will. Just drop me a line at blog @ universalistchurch.net

Want to know more about the software?

Link: www.infocentral.org

Church websites using MT

Following up on some earlier comments: I got the idea for using Movable Type for the church website from Heal Your Church Website � the newest entry is a suggestion on what to do in lieu of an “under construction” church webpage � whose owner does it for his own church, Redland Baptist Church, Rockville, Maryland, in the suburbs.

I’m amazed how few churches use this powerful tool for church website. Indeed, when I made a Google search last week to get ideas back home, I noticed there were more bloggers named Church, or mock churches, or even church camping and youth groups that used Movable Type than churches themselves.

Even funnier, I noticed that many of the few that did use MT were of the “church of Christ” variety, the “Restorationists” who are the Disciples of Christ’s conservative kin. These are the people who won’t use musical instruments in worship because they’re not mentioned in the New Testament, but (as a Disciples seminary classmate pointed out) will definitely use electricity (and Movable Type) without biblical warrant. (“Restorationist” is a term also used within Mormon and Universalist traditions, meaning different things in each case.)

Only two of the other MT using churches have sites worth mentioning, so for your convenience:

  • St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C. (just a couple of miles from UNMC)
  • Higgins Lake Baptist Church, which loses points for not making it obvious where it is. (Higgins Lake, Michigan, it turns out.)

14 October 2003. Since porn sites seem to spam from this entry, I’ve closed the comments