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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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Google Analytics

Google provides a comprehensive web tracking solution called Google Analytics; one that is easy to integrate into any Finalweb website. Just go to http://www.google.com/analytics and login or create a new account to get started.

After setting up your Google Account to use Google Analytics, you will be presented with a list of your current tracked sites. This image below shows a few existing accounts, but yours will most like have none. To create a new one, just click the New Account button.

Fill in all the fields, making sure you enter the correct domain name in the Web Site URL field. Give the account a unique name and then click the "Get Tracking ID" button when finished.

The next screen will display your tracking ID, the tracking status, as well as the tracking code you will need to use. The most important step here is to select all of the content in the tracking code textarea toward the bottom. Sometimes users just copy the actual tracking ID (i.e. UA-0000000-1) and not the entire script that is required. Once that is copied, you can then go to your website.

Log in and click to open the Site Manager. On the left menu, select Tools and then Google Analytics.

Your next screen will either let you enable Google Analytics or modify the tracking code; select whichever button or link you see.

The new page or window that opens will contain a large textarea into which the tracking code will need to be pasted. If there is any existig code be sure to just paste beneath what is there. After that, click save and wait until Google verifies that your tracking code has been installed successfully.

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Custom DNS Records

Oftentimes the need arises to add custom DNS records associated with a domain name - pointing to a new mail server, or to configure third-party services, or to verify a domain with Google in order to setup Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools. The Finalweb Church Website tools allow for users to easily manage such records without having to know much about DNS except for what they might be instructed to do by, say, Google's instructions. While simple to use, the DNS editor can wreck a website quickly if used improperly. Here is a quick walkthrough on using the helpful feature.

1. Login to your site and enter the Site Manager. The Advanced Domain Tools link is located underneath the Tools heading on the left side menu.

2. If you just need to configure Google Apps, simply select that option, or to verify a domain for Google, just click the Google Analytics icon. If there are other types of custom records needed, click the Advanced DNS Editor link (you will also need to click OK on the popup warning to follow).

3. Select your domain from the list. Usually there is only one anyway.

4. The next screen displays all DNS entries for the selected domain, and also contains a link to add new records. To remove a DNS record, click the "delete" link next to it.

5. When adding a new DNS record, you will first select the type, and then fill in the input fields for the different pieces of pertinent information. Once saved, the record is created right away, although it might take a few hours to propagate in order to be completely functional.

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Embedding a Google Calendar

Google provides many useful tools, one of which is their Calendar application. And one of the best features of the Google Calendar, much like Google Maps, is the ability to embed the calendar into any website. This quick tutorial will walk you through how to do this in your Finalweb church website.

1. Log in to your Google account to manage the calendar. I won't go into detail on how to setup the calendar and add/modify events (here is more information - Google Calendar Documentation) but rather to prepare the Calendar for embedding into your website.

2. Click the drop-down arrow button next to your calendar and select "Calendar settings"

 

3. A very important task is to set the sharing correctly so that public visitors can view the calendar. Click on the "Share this Calendar" link beside the correct calendar to open sharing settings.

4. Be sure that the checkbox next to "Make the Calendar Public" is checked and then click Save.

5. Click on the Calendar title to open the page which will contain the embed code.

6. Select all the embed code next to "Embed This Calendar" and copy to your clipboard, You might need to modify some custom settings (such as calendar height and width), and to so you'll just need to click the "Customize..." link right above the code area.

7. Create a new web page, or open an existing one on your website on which the calendar should be embedded. Click the Add New Section and choose a Text/Image section, utilizing the "No Image" layout type. When the text editor appears, switch to the HTML view by clicking the "Source" button in the top left and then paste your copied code into the text area. When it's pasted, just click Save Changes.



When all is done, your calendar should neatly appear on the page like this:

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Utilizing PayPal

PayPal provides a helpful solution for collecting donations, registration fees, product payments, etc. from the web. For more than one reason, the PayPal service is usually far better than working to incorporate a full-blown e-Commerce solution into your website. A couple of those reasons are the fact that there is not set up fee (for the account needed to connect with a Finalweb Church Website), and that the company is well-recognized as a secure way of making payments. Visitors will have the option to pay with their own PayPal account, or without logging in at all. The service is reliable and has recently been updated, so here are the current steps for setting up an account.

1. Visit www.paypal.com and select the Business option at the top left.

2. Select "Get Started" under the Standard option.

3. Here there are presented two different options. You may either login with an existing personal account, so that it can be updated to become a Business Standard account, or create a new account. This demonstration will take the new account route; select this option.

4. Create the account. Provide the necessary information and agree to the terms. The last step will require you to verify your email address.

5. Verify your email and login.

6. Configure Seller Options by hovering over the "Profile" link (seen below) and clicking on "My Selling Tools."

7. Click on "Update" beside the Website preferences option.

8. Change the following options:

Auto Return - set to "ON"
Return URL - paste yours into the box. This is found in the E-Commerce Options of the Site Manager for your website. Click on "Configure E-Commerce Settings" and you will see the URL about half-way down the page.
PayPal Account Optional - ensure this is set to "ON"
Contact Telephone Number - ensure this is set to "OFF"

Save the options to finalize this configuration.

9. Copy the Identity Token for use in the E-Commerce settings of your website. This token is the long string that should appear in a box on the next screen.

10. Paste the Identity Token into the E-Commerce settings of your website. Navigate to the E-Commerce Setup.

Also, make certain the settings are set to:

Check this box to allow collection... - CHECKED
Enter your PayPal account ID... - this is the PayPal email address you entered
Enter your PayPal Identity Token... - paste Identity Token

The settings will take effect once "Save Changes" is clicked at the bottom of the screen.

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Submitting A Podcast to iTunes

An often overlooked feature of Finalweb Church Websites is that sermon audio entries are automatically added to a podcast RSS feed. Visitors can easily copy the link to this feed and then subscribe to it within any podcast application. You may, however, want to submit the podcast to iTunes so that it is searchable from with that application in particular. Here are a few steps to consider.

First, Apple has provided much information on how podcast XML should be formatted. As a Finalweb Church Website user, you don't have to worry about any of that since we have taken care of it already. The link that is generated via the "Subscribe to Podcast" button is already in the right format.

Before submitting your podcast, you may want to look through the current download library files to make sure all the information is correct. Be sure, as well, that a podcast image has been added so that it can be displayed in the iTunes application.

After copying the link to the feed RSS, just open iTunes and then navigate to the Store, or click this link to get there automatically:

iTunes: Submit a Podcast

The steps from here are simple, and you may need to wait for a few hours or days before it has been approved.

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Switching Templates

Template-based hosted websites offer many benefits to custom-developed solutions. Besides the (huge) time and cost savings in initial set setup, a good template hosting service will provide the opportunity to quickly and easily change designs at any time you might need. This is certainly true of Finalweb's Church Website builder. Here are some basic steps to help give your site a new look.

1. Determine Your Needs

Think though what kinds of content should be present on the site, and also what kinds of content should not. Evaluating the answers to those questions will provide the foundation for the site, upon which the next several steps are built.

2. Decide Upon a Functional Design

Will the site need an top menu only? Will it need a top, side and bottom menu? Will there need to be informational boxes on the homepage? Will the topbar section hold images or announcement slides? Building upon the information gathered in step one, these questions will narrow down the template selection. Different Finalweb templates provide different menu solutions, so be sure to make sure the one you want has what you need. If you have questions on it, just call our support team to find out.

3. Deploy By Making the Switch

Select the template you want and have a look. All your content remains, and if you ever need to go back to the former template you can do so by selecting that one again (you want want to  make note of which it is before switching to a new one). There may be some work to do after changing - adding some new images or changing the menus around a bit, but all the content on your pages will automatically fit into the new template.

If you get stuck on any of these, please feel free to contact our support team for assistance. If you're interested, ask about our service of going through these steps for you at a competitive hourly rate. We can save you time and be sure to get a professional-looking template configured for you with no hassles.

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