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Finalweb Tips Blog
January 2012

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Photo Galleries

Church events can be special times, and pictures help capture those moments forever. The church websites powered by Finalweb provide a simple tool that makes it easy to share special occasions in photo galleries. There isn't a limit on how many galleries can be created, and you can upload as many photos as you need into each. Here's a quick overview of how they work:

If you haven't done so already, open the menu builder for the menu in which you'd like to add a link to the photo gallery page and drag the Photo Galleries page to the correct menu location. Once this is done, you'll need to navigate to that page and click the "Gallery Manager" button. Click to add a new gallery, or select from the list of already-added galleries to modify.

After creating the photo gallery, the next step is to upload images to it. We have an uploading tool that will allow for multiple pictures to be transferred in one process, for your convenience. There is, however, one important thing to keep in mind before you start uploading images to the gallery - you will probably need to resize your photos before uploading. The uploader takes images in their current sizes, and then the gallery uses those full-sized images for display. Most digital cameras capture high-resolution images, ones that will be cumbersome for web viewers to see. We recommend doing a batch resize to a 800 - 1000 pixel width, and then starting the upload of the resized images.

Click the Upload Images button and then select the photos from your machine that should be placed into the gallery. Once they've all been tranferred successfully, be sure to click the "Finished Uploading" link to generate thumbnails.

Back on the galleries page, the newly-created photo gallery will be display, and images can be viewed in a modal-window format, or just from the thumbnails.

As always, contact our support team with any questions that might come up.

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Mobile Websites

Each Finalweb church website comes with an automatically-generated mobile version. The great benefit of a mobile-friendly website is usability on various portable devices. Smart phones and tablets (and iPods) have browsers that can display full content, but it's often difficult to navigate. To get around this issue, we've created a simple interface that focuses on rendering content in an efficient yet beautiful manner.

By default, the mobile version pulls menu items from the menus that are already created on your website. This means that you don't actually have to do any work to have a functional version for mobile devices. If you do, however, want to have more control over what options are visible on the mobile site, you can easily use the mobile menu builder to customize.

Mobile Menu Builder

The same page content is pulled into the smart phone's browser, but it's designed to fit the smaller screen appropriately. Images are automatically resized, and visitors even have the option on switching to the full site view if desired.Visit your website on a mobile device to see what it looks like, and navigate to the mobile menu builder in the Site Manager to customize what your members see.

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Social Networking Integration

Social networking can be a great way to connect with your people, distribute content, and even increase your search engine rankings. This is why it is imperative that you have an easy solution for making links to your various accounts, and for providing ways for visitors to link to your content. Here are a couple suggestions for taking care of both of these:

Use home page boxes to link to your accounts.

Many of the newer templates to which Finalweb customers have access contain content boxes on the homepage. These areas are great locations to highlight various features of your church website, including social networking accounts. If you are wanting to push members and visitors to view updated information on Facebook, then a linked icon in a box would be a great idea.

Use topbar images to direct visitors to your accounts.

Most new templates also allow for topbar image links. This means that you can create images that contain information about social networking sites, and then provide a link to that location. Use an image editor to space together some text and some images to create an attractive "advertisement" for the page.

Utilize the blog for links back to your site.

Finalweb's blogging tool automatically adds a heap of social networking bookmark options at the end of each blog post. If a visitor reads a post, the person can quickly like the content or create a tweet or link right from that page. The more backlinks that visitors generate, the more your content is distributed, and the more search engines will rank your church's website.

Embed a widget on the homepage.

Most of these social networking services provide source code for embedding updated content into a website. If you'd like to take advantage of this technology, you'll just need to be able to copy the HTML provided and paste into the Source view of any text editor. Check out our article on embedding HTML for more information.

Feel free to consult with our tech support team if you need any further assistance. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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Maximize Editing Space

Sometimes there isn't quite enough room on the screen to do the work that needs to be done. Our developers have implemented a couple of solutions that make it easier to navigate larger forms, or to make larger text entries.



When editing most pages, a pop-up modal window view is displayed. The webpage dims, and the configuration form comes into view. By default, the width is set to a certain value, and the height varies depending upon your browser resolution. If you would like to have greater width or height in the editing window, just click the "Maximize" button at the top of the screen. This will increase the size of the area to fit just about the entire browser.



If you are typing content into the text editor, and you feel it would be nice to have some more real estate to work with, you can easily expand that area as well. First, there is a small button that will hide the toolbar, which provides a little extra space. This button is the down arrow at the far right and bottom of the toolbar. Secondly, towards the right side of the bottom row of the toolbar is a maximize button. If you click this, the entire editor will expand to the full size of the window. If you've already clicked the Maximize button on the popup view itself, clicking the editor maximize will give a full-screen text environment.

To maximize the maximizing capability, just use both options. The result is something like this:

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Page-Specific Permissions

Church website administrators ought to expect to have the ability to grant permissions to users for any webpage. Finalweb's content management solutions offers just that functionality. Each website comes with unlimited user accounts and unlimited webpages, so the possibilities are endless for giving contributors access to managing content. This brief video gives a quick overview of how to easily set these permissions:

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Working with Custom Forms

Collecting pertinent data is a helpful functionality of well-designed church websites. Let's say there is an upcoming event that simply needs a "head-count", or a need to collect interest in a possible new ministry, or just a way for visitors to submit prayer requests to church leadership. Having the ability to dynamically create forms that will keep data stored online and email results is a powerful feature that should be leveraged.

Finalweb's Church & Ministry package includes access to the form and questionnaire builder without any extra cost. What's more, users are free to create an unlimited number of forms. This is a brief description of how to setup and deploy a new one:

  1. Log in and open the Site Manager.
  2. Under the "Pages and Content" select the "Form & Questionnaire Builder" option.
  3. If there is a currently-existing form, you will see it listed and will be able to modify the form's ordering, add or remove form elements and view responses.

  4. To create a new form, click the "Add New Questionnaire" button at the bottom.
  5. Fill in a title and an admin email address for the form, then select one of the layout options. We recommend the White Background option as well as keeping the anti-spam security enabled. When finished with configuration, just save the changes.

  6. You'll be directed back to the library of forms, and in order to add questions, just click the title of the form in the list.
  7. The next page displays existing questions, and provides an "Add Question" button at the bottom. Just click that button to begin adding form elements.
  8. The next step will provide area for the question title. This might be, for example, "Name:", or "Please describe how you feel about…", "Choose from the following:", etc.

  9. The next part prompts for a question type from the drop-down list. Select one of the following:
    • Single-line text - The most basic form element. Usually used for name, email address, etc.
    • Multi-line text - If there is a longer amount of text to be entered for the response, this is best.
    • Drop-down list - This type provides a list of options from which to choose, arranged in a drop-down manner.
    • Radio Button Options - A stacked list of options next to radio buttons; only one may be selected.
    • Single Checkbox - A single checkbox element, to be used for a question like "Check here to be included in our mailings." Checkbox List - This renders a stack of responses next to checkboxes; multiple options can be selected.
    • Comment - Simply is text that needs to be inserted as instructions or commentary; there is no response associated with.
  10. The required field option can be checked if necessary, and then the layout needs to be chosen. We like to recommend the "next to the question" option, since it usually makes better use of your page space. It's completely up to you, though.
  11. Save changes to the newly-created element, and then it will appear in the list of items for the form.
  12. Continue to create new questions until everything is set, and then the form is ready to be linked from one of the menus.

  13. Open up a menu editor (top, side, bottom, etc.) and then click the Forms tab at the bottom to select the one you'd like.

Hopefully this is helpful as you seek to add more functionality to your church's website.

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Friendly URLs

Long URLs can be annoying. If your church website has, say, a subsite for the youth group, the location might be something like: "www.mysamplechurch.org/sites/cpage.asp?sec_id=190012384&cpage_id=16093884". That's not the easiest string to remember, nor is it all that nice to look at. Enter friendly URLs, a way to easily clean up the paths to your pages for convenience and SEO optimization. Instead of a long URL, you could announce something much easier, like "www.mysamplechurch.org/youth".

Behind the scenes, a friendly URL is simply a virtual directory within Internet Information Services on the web server. The name of the friendly url is used as the name of the pretend folder that points to an actual file within the website. It's kinda like creating a shortcut to a file, so that you don't have to navigate through a bunch of folders to find what you want.

To create a friendly URL, just log in and navigate to the Site Manager. From the left menu, select Tools - Add/Modify Friendly URLs. (NOTE: If you are using a trial site, this feature will not be available, since there has to be a domain name and a site configured on the server in order for it to work) Just type in a name and the entire URL (inlcuding "http://") and click the "Add Friendly URL" button to save. The configuration will take up to 30 minutes to complete, but once it's done you'll be set to go with an easier way to get to your pages. Feel free to make as many of these as you like.

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Podcasting

iTunes PodcastingOne of the most compelling reasons to have a church website is to provide visitors recordings of weekly sermons. An easy-to-use library of audio files with sorting by date, text, speaker, etc. can make your sermons accessible for anyone who visits the site. This library, however, requires users to remember to come back each week to download or listen to the most recent addition. A convenient tool for making the files even more easily accessible is the podcast.

By far the most popular podcast reader is iTunes, a free download from apple.com. Adding a feed is simple, but it might not be the most intuitive part of the application. Under the "Advanced" menu, click "Subscribe to Podcast…", then paste the URL to the podcast feed and click OK. iTunes will automatically download new sermons once they have been added to the podcast feed file.

To retrieve a podcast feed from your church website, navigate to the sermon download library click the "Subscribe to Podcast" button. If there are categories created for the library, you'll have the opportunity to select a particular podcast, or to subscribe to everything. The next window will provide the podcast feed URL; copy and paste into iTunes (or the player of your choice).

Now, the easiest step of all. How do you create the podcast file? What do you have to do to get the file on your site for visitors to copy? The answer - nothing. Just add files to the download library as usual and the podcast feed is generated automatically. No need to know how to code or anything. This solution will add great benefit to your church website without any extra work.

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Menu Builder 101

A few months ago, all church website users were provided an upgraded menu builder for all menu layouts on any site Finalweb hosts. This new menu builder contains a few key features that provide specific control over menu elements and allow an easy (and fun) user interface for working with items. Here are just a few highlights to demonstrate capability and provide assistance in case you get stuck:

Drag and Drop

We have developed a state-of-the-art system that allows intuitive reordering/adding/deleting of menu items. All you need to do to be able to create or remove or rearrange your menu links is click on one and then move to the location it should be. To move one link to another position, just click and drag the element to another spot within the menu. To add another item, just select the page type from the huge list of available content at the bottom, and drag it to the correct position in the menu. To delete a menu element, just click and drag to the trash can. This is an amazingly simple way to create a powerful menu structure.

Submenus

In order to do the drag-and-drop operations with submenu items, you'll need to double-click the parent element. For instance, if you have a "Resources" link or header in the menu, double-click the link to see an expanded box for adding submenu links. Just drag items from the library below (or from another location in the menu) into the newly-opened area, and flyout links will be automatically generated.

Create New Pages

In past CMS versions, users had to click a link to create a new page, and then go add that page to a menu. While that can still be done, the menu builder can now actually facilitate the creation of new pages. At the bottom of the menu builder page, under the "Add More Content" tab, you'll find several options of page types, and also under "Dynamic Pages" tab, a "New Dynamic Page" option. After adding one of these new pages, saving, and clicking on the link in your site, you'll be prompted to add new content.

The menu structure is an important part of a good web design, and this tool aims to make your menu building experience easy and productive.

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