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Finalweb Tips Blog
April 2014

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Overlay Text in Banner Images

Website graphics serve several important functions and they should, therefore, be added with purpose and careful thought. One way to make graphics more interesting is to add overlay text for highlighting events or promoting a concept which captures the interest of the audience. Finalweb provides a helpful tool for church websites that makes adding overlay text to banner images simple.

One method of adding text to images involves image editing software such as Photoshop to do the job. This route offers much flexibility and can help doctor-up pictures to make them look better for the web as well. But one limitation is the fact that the text added is not recognized by search engines. If text is, instead, actually a part of the website's HTML, but sitting on top of an image, it is visible to search engines and can help with search ranking or promotion of various events.

On some of our templates, there exists a tool to render specified overlay text overtop of topbar images. You'll know that your template has this capability if you see fields for title text and sub-title text inside each topbar image's configuration. Some templates also permit specific arrangement of text as well.

If your template doesn't have this feature, feel free to explore the library to see if another would fit what you'd like to do. We're also hard at work to release new templates with this functionality, and at the same time developing the feature into existing templates.

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Google Domain Verification

In order to use certain tools provided by Google with your Finalweb church website, you may be required to verify your domain name. Doing so may seem difficult, but there are actually only a couple of action steps needed. Here is a quick overview of what to do.

1. Login to the Google service (this tutorial exemplifies Webmaster Tools) using the Google account with which the service should be associated. This can be any existing Google account, whether it's a Gmail address or not - just be sure it's set up with Google services. Once you've logged in, you'll see a red button that says "Add Site", and this gets things started.

2. Enter domain information and then you will be directed to a page where Google provides instructions for domain verification. The recommended method involves uploading an HTML file, and we'd prefer our users using one of the alternate methods instead. Click on the "Alternate methods" tab and choose the "Domain name provider option." From the drop down list of providers, select "Other" in order to see the information you need.

3. A long string is provided which should be copied to your clipboard. This will be used in a later step to create a custom DNS record at which Google will look in order to verify domain ownership.

4. After copying the string (begins with "google-site-verification="), go to your Finalweb website, log in, and then go to the Site Manager. Click Tools on the left menu and select "Advanced Domain Tools". From the options that appear, choose "Advanced DNS Editor", then choose your domain from the list of available ones on the next screen.

5. A link to add a new DNS record will appear at the top of the next page, and you will need to click it and then create a new record as specified in the image below:

Choose txt as the type and paste your verification string into the Text Value field. Save changes and wait for Google to verify the domain. That's all!

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First Impressions

First impressions affect us more than we may be aware of or care to admit. Your website’s home page can be considered a first impression to anyone who is visiting your site for the first time. It serves as an opportunity to give people a glimpse to your unique identity and what matters to you. It also serves as a preview to your latest developments and activities. This is especially true for church websites as they seek to convey their distinctive values and unique programs.

There are a couple ways that can help make your home page attractive and yet still functional. It starts with choosing from the variety of Finalweb templates. Choose a template that best serves how you want people to navigate to the rest of your site. Some people will prefer a more photo-centric home page and use multiple pictures as links to other pages. On the other hand, some folks may prefer their home page to be more straight-to-the-point with most links simply spelled out in menus. Both ideas are perfectly fine. One thing to be careful of, though, when building your church website is to not place too many items on the home page. There can be a temptation to cram as much stuff as possible in plain sight on the front page and sometimes that may actually end up hurting the beauty AND functionality of your site.

When it comes to building a menu, rather than trying to place a couple dozen items in a single menu, utilize the sub-menu builder (if your template features it). If four or five pages are similar in category, then you can save space by putting four or five links in a sub-menu under a generic category (e.g. “About Us” or “Ministries”).

A very popular feature on many of our templates is the Topbar Image section. This refers to the banner images at the top of your home page. Depending on the template, you can use these photos for more than just a simple front page gallery. Some of our templates allow you to use them as links to other pages that you want to highlight. When choosing topbar images, it is best to use photos with sharp resolution but to also pay special attention to the ideal dimensions specified in the topbar image editor. Not all templates use the same size frame for these images. To see how to best manage photos for this feature, please see our blog entry titled “Topbar Image Demonstration.”

The same idea goes for the usage of images for the other boxes on your homepage that serve as links within your site. Use higher quality photos if you can find them, but just make sure you are using photos that you own and are not violating any copyright infringement. To help get you started, we have a large gallery of public domain photos that you can access from all your photo editor sections of your site manager.

Remember, it helps to look at your church website homepage as a “first impression” when setting it up. Put yourself in the shoes of someone looking at your site for the very first time and think about what will help them figure it out quickly and easily while still representing your unique identity.

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Switching to a New Template

One of the best features of a site powered by Finalweb is the ability to quickly and easily switch between templates. Whether you have a lot of content or just a few pages, doing a design makeover is actually far simpler than you might imagine; here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, remember that any change you make to the template is live, so that visitors on the site will see it in the new design as soon as it is selected. That shouldn't dissuade you from trying one out, since you can easily switch back to the old design at any time without losing any content. Guaranteed. That said, you still may want to make the change during a time when you expect low traffic (such as nighttime), since there will be a few other things you may need to configure before it's all ready.

Second, you will want to be sure you have your default page correctly configured. Each template has a different set of features for the standard default page, and you might be missing out on them if you simply have a dynamic page set as the home page. Feel free to remove the default setting on the current page if you do have it set up that way, since you can always add it back as the default page if you'd like.

Third, there are a couple things you may want to address after switching.

1. Topbar images may need to be remade to fit new dimensions. Every template handles the sizing of topbar images differently, so you will need to either resize in the browser tools or on your machine and the re-upload.

2. Images added within the content sections of your site may also need to be changed, depending upon the sizing of the content area. Each template's width is different (for the most part), so you'll want to look through each page to make sure the images on them appear correctly.

3. If you've embedded code into the site for rendering content from a third-party provider (such as a Google Map or Google Calendar), you may also want to check the width settings on those embedded sections.

4. Your logo may not look great in the new template. Either change it up or perhaps remove it altogether since most new templates will simply write out your site's name in a themed font style if there is no image for the logo.

Once you're certain all the images and topbar items on the new template are in order, you may also want to change the color scheme and/or change the background image if it's supported on the new template. Those things may seem slight, but can have a significantly helpful impact on the look of your site. Overall, you will likely be surprised at how much your site can improve in its look and feel with just a few minutes of work.

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