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Adding Custom HTML Content

Oftentimes a need arises to insert HTML content into a web page. You might want to add a Facebook or Twitter widget directly to a home page, or embed a Google map into an information page, or display the weather forecast from Accuweather in a prominent location. Even if you don't quite understand much about HMTL code, you'll find it easy to add it to your site.

Whether you want to compose script yourself, or just paste a snippet provided by a third-party, the first thing to do is to open the text editor for the area in which the HTML code should go. You will notice in the top row of the toolbar area, to the very left, a button titled "Source." Just click this and your editor area will transform into an HTML-editing textarea.

If you're working with an already-blank section, all you need to do is paste your copied HTML, or begin composing. If, however, you already have content in the section which should be preserved, you will need to locate the correct position for your custom code. (*NOTE: if you are inserting HTML into current content, you might want to copy/paste the existing text before inserting the new code) After pasting/typing code, click the "Save" button and you'll be able to see how your browser renders the code.

It is possible to have some serious rendering problems when performing this action. Usually these issues are due to not copying the entirety of the provided code, or not pasting correctly. If you see an error, and you can't pinpoint exactly where you went wrong, the Finalweb support team will be more than happy to assist you in any way they can.

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Adding Custom Scripts Site-Wide

One of the most beneficial qualities of Finalweb's Church Website builder is that the product is quite simple to use, yet also affords greatly detailed functionality if needed. A perfect illustration of this fact lies in Google Analytics code section.

This code area was designed to primarily allow for Google Analytics code to be inserted easily into every page of a website, since the block of script is inserted at the bottom of each page. Because of the site-wide nature of this information, it also affords an opportunity to add other scripts that would be beneficial on every page as well.

To modify the custom script area, just go into the Site Manager and then select "Google Analytics" from the Tools menu. If Google Analytics has not yet been enabled, press the button to enable it, or click to modify the current code. Now, be certain that the script added into this section is completely correct and not harmful to the site, or else there might be unpleasant affects to the site which could be hard to correct. If this does happen, feel free to contact our support team to figure it out.

Many widgets can be added through this means, copying and pasting code provided from other websites. Another possible function for advanced users is to interact with the current page DOM to modify layout slightly. An example of this would be to find the ID of, say, the side menu and then modify the style attribute to make the display hidden. Whatever you choose to use it for, remember to be careful and accurate.

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Adding Google Maps

Embedding a map to your location is a fairly simple process, and can add a helpful feature to make your website more functional. Here's a quick demonstration of how to add a Google Map using the Finalweb church website builder:

First, open up Google Maps and search for your address.

Next, click on share then embed and copy the source code for the map. Be sure to use the HTML information that is given, not the link (unless that's all you're after).

Find the page on which you would like to place the map. If you need to create a new one, just select "Add Web Page" from the Admin Toolbar. If you are working with a dynamic page, add a new Text section, or edit an existing one. If you are on a default home page, you can just click the "Edit Front Page" button. The blank text editor looks like this:

In order to be able to paste the map data into the editor, you will first need to switch to the Source view by clicking on the "Source" button in the top left of the toolbar. Doing so will allow HTML code to be placed into the text area. Pasting the map code, then, will look like this:

Save changes, and then you will see the map on your webpage:

NOTE: Google and other map providers also allow for customized settings on embed code. Take some time to adjust the height and width of your map, as well as other pertinent modifications that might be helpful before you copy the HTML script.

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App PayPal Client ID

The Finalweb Mobile native app solution has just released and provides a host of mobile-integrated solutions for your church. One of these features is the ability to collect donations via PayPal straight from your church's mobile app. But there are a few steps required in order to have this working correctly, and they are outlined here.

First, navigate to https://developer.paypal.com and login with your PayPal account. After you've been logged in, click on the "Dashboard" link in the top menu to get started:

The next screen lists out all the apps the you've configured to work with your PayPal account; most likely there will be none here. To create an ID for your Finalweb Mobile app, click on the "Create App" button in the top right of the My REST apps content area.

To create a new app, simply provide an arbitrary App Name in the field provided. This will most-likely be the name of your church or ministry. The Sandbox developer account should be pre-filled for you; just leave it as it is.

The next screen shows that the app was created successfully. The app display name is the same as the app name, but you can change it to be something else if you'd like. The Client ID is lower on the page and will need to be copied to your clipboard for use in the Finalweb App Manager.

Having copied the Client ID, go to your website's App Manager and select the App Configuration tile from the quicklink section.

Lastly, paste the Client ID into the provided fields (both the Production ID and Sandbox ID fields should be entered, and they should contain the same copied string). If you would like to test out the payments in your app for a while, choose "Sandbox" in the PayPal Mode dropdown list; otherwise set it to Production.

Save the changes and that's all. You may have to wait for a few minutes for the app to refresh with your new settings, but before long you can begin testing and using PayPal donations from your church's Finalweb Mobile app, whether you are using the Unbranded or the Branded solution.

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Creating a Mailing List

Creating a convenient alias for a large list of contacts is one of the most practically helpful things that church administrators can make. Instead of having to go find the last email and copying all the BCC'd email addresses, you could rather compose a new email and send to, say, "leadership@mychurch.org" by way of example. Here are some quick instructions on how to do this with the email provided with your Finalweb church website solution.

  1. Login to your administrative webmail client. Usually the address is "http://mail.yourdomain.com/admin" but you could also use http://mail.finalweb.net/admin to get to the same place.
     
  2. Click on the "New Mailing List" button to get started


     
  3. In the window that appears, give your mailing list a name, if you need to paste email addresses from a file you will be able to do so later. Enter in a Finalweb email address for the owner then save the list.


     
  4. After adding a title and saving the list, you'll select it from the list of accounts so that email addresses can be added to it. When you click on the name of the list, another window opens in which you'll see a new "Members" tab. If you want to add members one at a time, simply click that tab and add email addresses. But if you would prefer to paste in a list from a csv file, you can do so by clicking on the Members button in the Mailing List tab.


     
  5. After clicking the Members button, paste in your email addresses so that they appear in the blank text area.
     
  6. Click on the "Message" tab, set from action to "Set to value" and enter in owner's email address, set Reply-To: Header action to "Set to sender, check "Set recipient to To: header"


     
  7. Lastly, just save the account so that it can be used to easily distribute messages to everyone on the list.

If you find that you are wanting more customization with respect to who can mail to the account, what the message header is, etc., then please consult the documentation found here for details.

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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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Domain Transfers

When a new customer begins an account with Finalweb, they frequently have an existing domain name that needs to be transferred, or possibly reconfigured so that it will point to the content that we host. Or, in other cases, an extra domain is purchased separately and needs to be transferred as a secondary or replacement domain for a website. Either way, there are some essential things to understand when going through a domain name transfer process.

First, the transfer of domains occurs between domain registrars. A registrar is an online provider that sells and distributes domain names and their ancillary information (contact information, security, nameserver addresses, etc.). So, when a transfer needs to happen in order to move your domain to Finalweb, we are actually leveraging the services of the registrar that we resell, which is Enom.com. This is why much of the correspondence for the transfer takes place between you, the owner, and the two (sending and receiving) registrar companies.

Second, it is imperative that before a transfer be started, the administrative and registrant contact information that is associated with your domain is updated - especially the email address listed. This address is used during the transfer to verify its sending and receiving, and the process will fail if that email is not opened and its instructions followed. 

Third, any security on the domain will need to be disabled and the domain lock must be turned off (or else the transfer will fail right from the start).

Last, we need for you to secure the transfer code (sometimes called an EPP code or authorization ID or code) and then send it to us. Each registrar is a little bit different in how you can find this code (or any of the other listed items above), so you may need to check with their support and documentation to find out what to do. Once we have the code we can begin the transfer and notify you when it is completed, usually within 2-7 business days.

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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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Finalweb Tips and Tricks

Building a church website can be a challenging exercise. At Finalweb, our goal is to provide a beautiful product that is affordable, functional and usable. We continue to add new templates and develop most sophisticated solutions for generating content, but we also want to be sure we are providing the best assistance we can for making Finalweb as easy to use as ever.

This is why we are launching the Finalweb Tips and Tricks Blog. We will frequently post solutions to common questions, suggestions for how to make a church website look professional, and ideas for how to make the most of our feature-rich system. Hopefully, this will be helpful for current customers to learn all that can easily be done with the product, and also for prospective customers who wish to see how our solution can meet the needs of their church websites.

Check back here for further postings, and subscribe to our RSS feed for automatic notifications. Also, follow our Twitter feed (@Finalweb) and like us on Facebook.

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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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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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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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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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How to Create More Email Accounts

Whether it is because of a new staff member, or for the purposes of organizing contact information, the need sometimes arises to create a new email account. Fortunately, the email system included with your Finalweb web solution provides a simple and efficient way to do just this. Follow the steps below, and then look at our documentation for configuring accounts in desktop and mobile clients for sending and receiving mail.

To setup additional email accounts:

  1. Visit http://mail2.finalweb.com/admin

  2. Login using your administrative username (this will be your Finalweb username, followed by the @ sign and your domain name.) For example, john.doe@church123.com and password.  The password is the same password you received to administer your web site when it was originally configured.  NOTE:  DO NOT DELETE THIS ACCOUNT!
  3. Click the "New User" button located towards the upper-left side of the window
  4. In the "Alias" box, type the portion of the email address that will appear before the @ sign.  For instance, john.doe would be an alias for john.doe@church123.com
  5. Type the same thing in the "username" box.
  6. Type the Full Name of the user associated with this box.
  7. Type and confirm a password for this mailbox. Make sure the password contains at least 8 characters, one number, and one capital letter.
  8. Click "OK" at the bottom of the window.


For more information about the settings above, click the question mark icon at the top of the settings window. 
 

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Linking to Files in a Menu

Sometimes it's necessary to create a link to a file from a top or side menu of your Finalweb website. Perhaps it's a PDF or an image file that needs to be emphasized, but there is a simple process that you can follow in order to make this happen.

First, you'll need to upload the file to the server so that is available for linking. Go into your Site Manager and find File Manager underneath the Tools heading on the left. This view shows you all the files that are currently associated with your site. Since you can't create a folder here, we recommend just adding these files for custom links into the root folder which you first see.

Click on the "Upload Files" button and navigate to the document or other file that you'd like to add as a link. Once it's uploaded you will actually need to re-enter the File Manager in order to see it in the list, so simply click again on the File Manager link in the menu on the left. Scroll down to see your newly-uploaded file.

Next, you will need to copy the URL to this file to your clipboard. Right-click on the link title itself, underlined in white, and select the correct option that your browser provides to copy the link (each one is different - the image here is what Firefox presents: "Copy Link Address").

Next, return to a page on your site where you can edit the menu into which the link should be placed. Drag up a new External Link, found in the "Headers/Other" tab at the bottom.

Once it's dropped into the correct place, configure the name and target and then paste (ctrl-v or command-v) the copied link location into the URL field. We also recommend removing all the text of the link up to the "/home/" that you'll see.

Once the menu is saved, you'll have a link all set in the menu to open a file when it is clicked.

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Managing Web Content

Web browsers read content in a special coded format called HTML. While this language is fairly simple to understand, Finalweb church website customers have no need to know it in order to create content for their web pages. This is because we have provided a widely-used solution called the WYSIWYG editor. The acronym stands for "What You See Is What You Get", and refers to a product that converts content in the form of text, images, tables, lists, etc. into HTML which browsers can render correctly. This way, web users need only insert content into an easy-to-use editor to manage the information on their web pages.

This post will provide a few helpful suggestions for beset use of the WYSIWYG text editor.

First, any content section of your website will be editable via a WYSIWYG editor, and the interface will appear like the image below:

Notice that there is a plain white area for typing, and a series of function buttons in the toolbar above. We'll look at just a few of these items to get a feel for what the editor is capable of doing.

1. Source View

The source view provides a way for more advanced users to have full control over the HTML output of the section. Inside this view, HTML, CSS and Javascript code can be created, modified or pasted from external sources. A good example of adding custom code in the source is the addition of a Google Map. We've posted further details on this particular process here, if you're interested.

Clicking the "Source" button will open the source view, and clicking it again toggles back the the WYSIWYG interface. Be careful of any changes you make, because you could end up making a modification that affects the entirety of the web page.

2. Standard Formatting

After typing some text, highlight it will your mouse and select the "Format" dropdown to reveal some formatting options. These formats represent standard HTML elements that can be consistently applied to your pages. The "Heading 2" format, for example, will render the same on any page to which you add it.

3. Hyperlinks

One of the most useful features of a webpage is the use of hyperlinks. Links can point to other websites, to other pages within your site, or even to files (PDFs, Word Docs, Images, etc.). The WYSISYG editor contains a button that makes any hyperlink tasks a breeze.

Simply highlight the text (or image) which will contain the link, and then click the hyperlink button icon in the toolbar. Another window will open, containing many different options for the link. In the Link Info tab, you'll notice a few basic options for link generation. Here are the basics for three different types of links:

    A. Link to an external webpage (such as www.google.com or www.apple.com, etc.)

    In the URL field on the Link Info tab, enter the entire string to the website. An example is "http://www.finalweb.com/blog.asp?message_id=8571". This will create a link to some information on Finalweb's Live Streaming service.

    B. Link to a webpage within your website

    Select the dropdown box in the bottom of the Link Info tab and find a page which you've already created. A link will automatically be created to that page with no extra work. This is a very easy and quick way to create links to your pages.

    C. Link to a file

    If the file has already been uploaded to your site, you can click the "Browse Server" button on the Link Info tab and select the file from the new window. The path to the image will then appear in the URL field.

    If you have not yet added the image to your site, click the Upload tab and then the "Browse" button to bring up a window to select a file from your machine. After selecting the file, click the "Send it to the Server" button to bring the image/document to the correct location for link use. The window will then automatically open the Link Info tab with the URL to the image inserted into the URL field.

Save the changes and then your link is created.

4. Adding Images

Place the mouse cursor in the location in the text where an images should be added, and then click the Image button in the toolbar. A new window will appear with some options.

To add an image, you can either select one from the server by click the "Browse Server" button, or by clicking the Upload tab and sending a new image to the server. After the image has been inserted, you will see a preview, and some properties can then be set to the left of the Image Info tab. Changing the width or height should automatically lock to correct proportions. To modify advanced settings, click the Advanced tab to see availalbe options.

5. Tables

To add a table, click the Table button in the toolbar. In the properties tab, you'll be able to specify Rows and Columns as well as Height and Width. To make the table border not display, set the Border size property to 0, and click OK when it looks right.

Tables are very useful when attempting to have content align nicely to the left or right, or to show service times. If you have experience working with Microsoft Word, you'll find this tool similar in its use, very simple to use.

The Finished product:

We hope these instructions are helpful as you look to make the most of your website.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Responsive Media Library

A new media library functionality is now available for all users that utilize a responsive template. This new layout is optimized for mobile and desktop devices, and allows for better categorization, Bible text organization, and grouping into sermon series.

To get started, go to the Site Manager and click on the "Media" heading on the left side menu. Then click on "Upgrade My Library" to get started.

This upgrade process might take a few moments, and when it is done you'll be able to interact with the new library format. A few more options will then be present in the Site Manager that you can work with.

Manage Media Series

The Media Series are a great way to organize your sermons by the series that they are presented in. Before adding an individual sermon file, click on this link to add a new series into which that sermon can be added. Give the series a name, a description and an image for it to display nicely in a new series view that you can select from the menu builder.

Manage Speakers

In order to promote a better system of functionality, we've now given the ability to add speakers which can have images and bios and other pieces of information that can be presented on a speaker bio page specifically. This also allows for sorting by speaker. Like with the series, you'll need to add a speaker to this section first before you are able to assign a sermon to him.

Manage Categories

To categorize sermons, they will first be added by this link and then selected when adding a new sermon record. Much like the series and speakers, the categories will be listed in a drop-down box when adding a new sermon.

For a helpful example of how this new library layout will appear, you can see an example at http://www.bethanycf.org/media/180018899

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Responsive Templates

The latest major trend in web design has to do with "responsiveness" in websites. What this means is that a site that is considered to be "responsive" adapts its layout to fit (or respond) to whatever device is accessing it. So, the desktop version of a site and a mobile phone version are the same design, carry the same color scheme and theme, etc., but they are both distinct in how they are actually displayed on the screen.

This trend is great because sites that employ such a design make helpful accommodation for the growing amount of mobile traffic. But finding a template-based CMS that can give you both a responsive design and the features your organization needs is more of a difficult chore than it perhaps should be. This is due to the fact that many solutions offering a responsive layout at low cost are actually not really providing much functionality besides adding text to a page. So, a solution that offers more functionality ends up costing significantly more, because that's what the market allows.

Here at Finalweb, we're looking to bring you the best of all three - attractive, responsive designs combined with great functionality and ultra-low cost. 

And, as a start, we've recently released some responsive templates that even have unique tools for creating a beautiful homepage for your site. To start using one of these, just go to the "Change Template" link in your admin toolbar and then choose 6500, 6510 or 6511. If you are not yet using Finalweb, feel free to start a free trial today.

Here are some pictures of what one of them (Template 6511) looks like:

 

 

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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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Stream Church Services Live!

As the internet continues to provide more and more functionality, churches must conitnually seek to find out the best ways to maximize its use for their ministry needs. One such application is live video streaming.

There are potential viewers all over the globe that could benefit from your services, and Finalweb now offers a solution that makes it possible. Finalweb Live is a complete live streaming service that extends the reach of your ministry to the ends of the Earth instantly. Former members that moved out of state or missionaries on other continents can now be encouraged to watch your services live with very little setup. This is truly a fantastic opportunity that is available to you now.

To learn more about setting up this service, watch the video below. We've provided a way for you to try the service without commitment (no credit card required). To get started, go to your Site Manager and select the "Live Streaming" quicklink.

Visit our Finalweb Live page for more detailed information and pricing.

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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 Email Hosts

Setting up a new website for your church involves a number of different components. Managing administrators, pages, designs and graphics can be difficult enough, but on top of all those things often is the task of switching email from one host to another. Hopefully this article will provide some helpful information on how you can take to make this process efficient.

If you don't yet use email with your domain, or if it is a new domain that's being set up, all you need to do is to add accounts so your users can begin utilizing mail. But if you have email addresses in use with your domain, and if you want to keep the actual email messages within those accounts then the following steps will help you to accomplish that. Since mail hosts don't provide a way to transfer mail to another provider, you'll have to do in manually, using both POP and IMAP protocols. 

Another important thing to understand is that once a domain is transferred to Finalweb's hosting, both web and email requests for the domain will be set to point to us, and not the old host. If you end up needing to keep email hosted at the old host for a time or indefinitely, just let us know and we'll work with you to accommodate that. Most of the steps that will be covered below should be accomplished before the domain is transferred, so work can begin as soon as a package is purchased.

After signing up and receiving basic set up instructions, you should begin creating new mailboxes on our email server. Login to http://mail2.finawleb.net/admin using the provided administrative email address and password, and then use the New User wizard to create each account. In order to seamlessly transfer mail and redirect incoming messages to the right place, you will want to create identically named accounts on Finalweb's server - for example, if there exists an "office@mychurchdomain.org" with the old host, you should create an "office" account within our admin client as well. Once those are all created, it's time to start the process of transferring mail.

First, it's important to understand the different between POP and IMAP so you know what's going on. POP will merely download a copy of mail from the server, and then store it in the client. No synchronization between client and server occurs, so organization takes place completely on the local machine. IMAP allows for clients to become synchronized with the mail and folder structures of the server. This is especially useful if you have multiple devices that will need to access mail messages. If a message is deleted from, say, a mobile phone's mail app, it will also be removed from the server and consequently from a laptop client as well.

To begin the process of transferring mail, a desktop client will need to be configured using the old mail host's settings, as a POP account. Outlook is a good candidate but anything will do as long as you can utilize POP (and also be sure that the current server is configured to allow POP; sometimes it is disabled). Below are some images of a sample Outlook configuration, but you'll need to follow instructions that your host provides (if available). Typically, these are the settings:

Name: Your Name
E-Mail Address: youraddress@mychurchdomain.org

Account Type: POP
Incoming Mail Server: old.host.pop_server
Outgoing Mail Server: old.host.smtp_server

User Name: youraddress@mychurchdomain.org (unless the host states differently)
Password: yourpassword

More Settings...
Give the account a new name that will distinguish it from the new one that will be added shortly

Outgoing Server tab and Advanced may have necessary settings, depending upon what the host specifies. 


Setting up an account using POP that is connected to the old mail host.


Inbox display with POP account connected to old mail host.

After all mail has been downloaded, you are actually ready to perform the domain transfer. You should have received instructions on how to do that, or on how to change nameserver records on the domain if you prefer that (which is actually faster to do, and can be done in tandem with a transfer if you'd like). 

At some point during the day of the transfer or nameserver change, mail will begin routing to Finalweb's servers. Once a day has passed since changing the nameserver addresses or since hearing confirmation of a successful transfer, you are ready to create a new IMAP account in Outlook (or any other client) through which the mail transfer will take place. 

Keeping the old POP account still active in Outlook, navigate to create a new account, using the following settings:

Name: Your Name
E-Mail Address: youraddress@mychurchdomain.org

Account Type: IMAP
Incoming Mail Server: mail.mychurchdomain.org
Outgoing Mail Server: mail.mychurchdomian.org

User Name: youraddress@mychurchdomain.org
Password: yourpassword

More Settings...
Give the account a new name that will distinguish it from the old one that was previously added.

Outgoing Server - check the box next to "My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication; then choose the radio button which says "Use the same settings as my incoming mail server"

Advanced - Leave incoming alone and change the outgoing (SMTP) server to use SSL for encryption and then switch to port 465. 


IMAP settings for email hosted by Finalweb


More settings; configuring outgoing server information.


Both accounts listed in Outlook.

After this account is created, the only thing left to do is to select mail from the old POP account and drag it into the Inbox or other created folders of the new IMAP account. Outlook will begin sending those messages up to the Finalweb server so that any other devices that connect to the account will have access to the transferred mail. When everything is moved over, feel free to remove the old POP account since it won't be receiving mail anymore.


Select messages from POP account to drag into the IMAP account.


Webmail view of synchronized messages.

We hope this tutorial is helpful, but we're sure there might be questions which will arise, so please feel free to contact our support team for assistance. 

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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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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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Topbar Image Demonstration


As mentioned in the last post, a commonly-edited area of Finalweb church websites is the topbar image section. This brief video demonstrates how to upload and manipulate images for newer templates.


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Use the Finalweb Menu Builder like a Pro

Finalweb's Church Website builder features an easy-to-use menu builder that also packs in more functionality than one might expect. So, here's a quick overview of some of the things that can be done to make functional and helpful menus for your church website.

Here is a starting point - just a single "Home" link on a top menu:

Adding, removing and modifying menu items is as easy as clicking and dragging. The bottom area displays a detailed list of all the available pages from which a user can chose menu items;  let's overview these categories briefly.

1. Add More Content

Many options appear within this area - so many that you'll need to scroll down to see them all. These are standard pages that are included within the Church/Ministry package to make content creation simple. Each of these pages can be clicked, dragged and then dropped to the correct location in the top area. After navigating to the link from the webpage, there will still be configuration needed to be sure the page looks correct.

2. Dynamic Pages

Here lie dynamic pages that have been created, and also a link to add a new one. Once added, just like other pages, the title can be changed to anything that you'd like. If a new dynamic page is added, once you navigate to it from the website menu there will be a default view to add text to the page. (All the other content types will still be available.)

3. Static Pages

Similar to dynamic pages, static pages are custom content pages that only provide a text area for the page. We would recommend using a dynamic page instead of a static page, in case there ever arises to need to add other functionality to the page.

4. Forums and Blogs

Any created forums or blogs will be available in these sections. The Finalweb CMS is capable of containing several different blogs and forums for dispersing information from different individuals or on different subjects.

5. Forms

In this tab are all the created forms and questionnaires that have been created. Often, a Contact Us form is useful for handling general inquires.

6. Sub-sites

If your site has sites for various ministries or if you've separated calendars using sub-sites, then all of them will appear in this list. By default, the link that is created to a sub-site is directed to the homepage of that particular sub-site. If you are wanting to have a link go directly to a sub-site's calendar, download library, blog, etc., then you will need to create a custom link by copying the address and pasting.

7. Headers / Other

This is the section where headers and custom links can be created. A header renders differently for different menus and for different templates. On a side menu, for example, a header may outline a category, whereas on a top menu it will be a link over which a visitor hovers in order to see sub-items. The External Link option provides a way to enter a custom link location from inside your website (as exemplified in the Sub-sites section) or outside your website (such as a link to google.com). In order to create an external link, you will need to either type the address correctly or paste from your clipboard.

Once an item has been dragged and released into the active menu area, you will have the option to modify information on the link, depending upon its type. Non-custom links will have a title and sub-title option, and the sub-title only appears on certain menus on certain templates so it can usually be blank. On custom links, a field for the URL will be visible. Save the link information to set the changes.

Hierarchical Menus

In order to give menus nested hierarchy, the first step is to double-click the menu item which will serve as the main item for the flyout list. The main link can still be a "live" link, pointing to another page, or can be simply a header that does not link anywhere. Once double-clicked, a new area will appear in which new items can be placed. Use existing active menu items or items from the arsenal below to fill up the submenu area until complete.

Once all menu changes are complete, click the Save Menu button to commit changes.

 

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Using Google Analytics

Tracking visitor trends can be a very useful functionality for your website. One of the best tools available to webmasters is the free Google Analytics service. We'll go over the few steps you'll need to take to get this set up.

First, navigate to the Google Analytics homepage to get started. If you already have a Google account, just login with it to enable analytics as a service. If you don't have a Google account, you can follow the steps to create one for free.

You'll be asked to set up the account with a name (can be something like the name of your church), and then the domain name. Select "http://" from the dropdown and then enter your domain name in the field beside. After agreeing to the Terms and Conditions everything should be ready to go.



On the next page, you will see that there are many available options. Before anything else, the tracking code needs to be added to your website. Scroll toward the bottom of the page inside the "Tracking Code" tab, and find the section underneath the "Paste this code on your site" header. Copy the code you see and then head over to your website.

Login to your site and go into the Site Manager (bottom link on the Admin Toolbar in the bottom-right after logging-in). Select the "Tools" header and then the "Google Analytics" link. You will see some instructions listed on that page (which you have already done) and a button to insert your tracking code. Click that and paste inside the textarea that appears.

After saving that information, go back to the Google Analytics page, and refresh to check the Tracking Status. Once it displays "Tracking Installed" you are all set. It may take a few days for pertinent data to be collected and appear, but you'll find it useful on many levels.

If you have any questions on setting up this service, just contact our support team for assistance.

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Using Mail on Multiple Devices

Email must be easily accessible to promote productivity and connectivity. With so many devices running on different operating systems, using different mail clients, one can certainly find difficultly in making sure each application is configured correctly. Not only does our Church Website builder make professional websites, we also include an email solution that can be accessed from any device that you are already accustomed to using. Here is a link to some helpful information on email setup of certain devices.

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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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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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Working with Download Libraries

The download library is a very useful functionality, providing the ability to distribute documents, presentations, media and even purchased content. Finalweb's Church & Ministry package provides a way to organize files neatly while enabling users to conveniently sort and page to find just what they're looking for.

First, let's have a look at how to build the library. Adding a new library is easy; just create a new dynamic page using the "Add Webpage" link in the Admin Toolbar, or from the Menu Builder. Add a new section and then select "File Download Library" from the list of available components. The ensuing configuration page affords many options to help customize the library's use and layout. One helpful option is the library type field, which determines whether the library is a stand-alone instance, is connected a main site master library, or is an E-commerce library, used for presenting media files which can be purchased by visitors.

After configuring the library, you'll be able to add specific files to it. An "Add Record" button opens a new windows which contains fields for creating a new library item. Not every field is required, but they are at least provided so that you can enter as much data as you like. These data are used to display file information in the library as well as to keep a podcast which can be referenced in iTunes (or any other reader). One helpful field is the category entry. Once a new category is entered, the system knows to provide it as a choice in subsequent file entries. The categories are then used on the library display view to give viewers an option for category sorting.

Depending upon file size, the upload can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. After the upload completes, the file name with appear along with an icon representing it's format. Continue filling out the rest of the form fields and then press "save" when done. Your newly-created item with then show up in the library, sorted by date by default.

We find that this tool is one of the most important and well-used features of our system. If you have any problems in setting it up the way you like, please feel free to contact one of our representatives for assistance.

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Working with Topbar Images

Probably the best way to make your Finalweb church website unique is to add custom images to the scrolling topbar section. This chore might at first seem daunting, but we've made some tools to make the process as simple as possible. You can use photos that you've taken with your own camera, or download stock  images from Microsoft Office Clipart, or pay for professional graphics at an online store such as iStockPhoto. Also, if you have access to editing software you can add text and textures and gradients and opacity effects to add an extra flare. Here are a few tips:

  1. Note the image dimensions for the template you've selected. If you click the "Edit Topbar Images" button, the topbar image height and width in pixels will be displayed. When looking for images to use, and when editing them with software, be sure to keep in mind that you will need to crop to a ratio that will fit that specified area. Also, there is variation to these dimensions between templates, so be sure to take this into consideration when switching.
  2. Get permission, give credit. If you use a photo of, say, a church-wide activity, make sure you are certain that each person in a photo doesn't mind being up on the website. Your church website is publicly accessible from just about anywhere in the world, and some individuals might not want to have that potential visibility. Also, if you use a photo that was taken by a person or organization that requires acknowledgment, be sure to include that either on the photo or somewhere on the page.
  3. Use text, textures and opacity. If you have access to Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or other editors, you can add extra elements to pictures that really make them stand out. Simple changes and make a world of difference in taking a church website to the next level. Add simple text headers or quotations, in front of an opaque background, to one part of an image. Add a texture to the image to give it a certain look and feel. Add a gradient to fade out to white or black. Little things like these suggestions can go a long way to getting the site you want.

After your images are saved in JPG format, all you have to do is  upload them to the topbar section. Newer templates allow for 10 images, arranged in any order, and can ever contain links to external or internal pages. You can also use our image manipulation tool to resize and crop your images for any fine-tuning adjustments that need to be made.

Hopefully these thoughts are helpful, and we hope you have fun creating images to make your church's site look and function the way that it needs.


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