Quick Fix: Resizing Pictures

The correct size and shape of pictures will help a website looking great. If you have a Worship Times site, this especially applies for pictures included in the staff and slider plug-ins, and if you are using featured pages and posts.

WordPress does include some simple cropping tools for your pictures. However, it is easier and less frustrating to edit your pictures prior to loading them to your site.

Helpful Tools

There are a variety of tools you can use to edit your pictures. Most computer operating systems include a simple picture viewer and editor. Adobe Photoshop provides a powerful set of editing tools that can assist not only with simple cropping, but also in color correction and beyond.

Online picture editing programs are available to upload pictures from your desktop and offer the tools to accomplish everything from cropping a picture to creating fliers and graphics for your organization are available. We have used and recommend PicMonkey, Snappa and Canva. All offer free versions with some great basic tools, as well as upgrades to increase services and options.

We encourage you to try out different tools to see which one best fit your needs and comfort level.

Try It Out

Let us use the example of adding a staff photo to your site to illustrate best practices as you edit and add pictures to your site.

Note: It is helpful to know that all picture measurements in WordPress will be noted in pixels, so we will also use pixel measurements in our example.

Here is a sample staff picture (you are not always going to have professional pictures to use):

The standard size for pictures for the Worship Times’ staff plug-in is 125 pixels wide by 145 pixels tall (dimensions for sliders and featured pictures can be found in slider and theme settings). If you let WordPress automatically crop the staff photo, it might look like this:

To better control the look and consistency of your pictures, we recommend:

  1. Start with a larger version of your pictures.
    (Like the sample photo above, much larger than 125×145 pixels.)
  2. Crop the pictures to have consistent framing.
    However you crop your pictures, consistency between the pictures is key. How you do your initial crop will also depend on the size and shape of your pictures – you may not have as much room to play with as our original picture. If your crop doesn’t work, simply undo and begin again.

    For sliders, it’s best to crop out unnecessary space that takes away from the main focus of the picture.

  3. Resize your pictures.
    In this case, we resized to the correct width for the staff picture, because we know we have extra length we will crop out in the final crop.

  4. Do a final crop to your desired size.

You can use this technique to crop any pictures for your site.

Note: Regardless if you use the recommended 125×145 pixels, make sure ALL pictures for staff pages are the same size. This created a uniform page and alignment.

Now you are ready to upload your staff pictures to your Worship Times site!

ABC’s of WordPress with Worship Times: Pages, part 2

Yesterday we re-introduced you to Pages, and how to enter basic content on your WordPress site. Today we will look at the additional tools you can use to build beautiful pages throughout your site.

Your page content and format is the main way you will distinguish your pages from others on the internet, and even others within your website.

Extra Tools:

WordPress has some additional tools built into their sites, as well as Worship Times plug-ins that can help you create a great page.

With the ‘Add Media’ tool, you can not only add individual pictures, picture galleries, video or pdf documents from your Media Library, but upload pictures from your computer, and more. You can add event lists from the Event Manager, and embed videos, calendars and social media content directly from other websites and platforms:

Other tools are available to help you add forms and picture sliders you have created in your site as well as maps, location addresses and office hours. Explore these tools, and see all the things they can do as you make your pages unique and welcoming to your website visitors.

Helpful Hint: We recommend adding and editing your text content before adding in media, forms, maps, etc., for ease of editing.

Visual vs. Text

You may notice as you’re editing that you are editing in the Visual editor of the content box:

What is the text editor, and do you need to worry about it? The text editor displays code that assists in building your page. You will almost never need to look at or worry about that tab in your content box. BUT, you might accidentally click on it and see a bunch of code. You can always click back over to the Visual tab, and see the view you are used to.

One more note on the content box: Because the fonts and font styles are unique to your theme, the layout of the content box will not look exactly like the actual page. If you look at the actual page, and want to move text or pictures, or change headers size or styles, you can always go back into the page’s editor and make those changes quickly.

Screen Options

You will notice that there are other boxes with options for your page. For most pages, you will not need to do anything with these options, but we will introduce you to them briefly. If you can’t see some of the available tools, you can find them in the screen options for the editing section, and choose which sections you want to see or hide:

Page Attributes:

There are two main options within Page Attributes that you will use. Parent pages indicate whether the page you are creating is a “child” page to another page in the site. For instance, you might have a main ministry page, and list pages for specific ministries as child pages.

Example: “About Us” would be a parent page. “Our Staff” would be a child page of “About Us”

Templates determine the type of page that will appear to your site’s visitors. You can create blog, blog archive and landing pages as well as the typical pages that will make up most of your site’s content. The best way to see what each template looks like is to test them out.

Page Layout:

With the page layout settings, you can easily change the look of a page. For most themes, the options are a right sidebar, a left sidebar or no sidebar. Some themes have more layout options. You can use these options as it makes sense in different parts of your site.

Featured Image:

Featured images can be added to pages you intend to use as featured pages in a widget section on your home page, landing page or in a sidebar.

Yoast SEO:

SEO, “search engine optimization,” is how your site and individual pages and posts within your site show up in search engines. We will address this further in a future post, but we encourage you to spend some time learning about SEO, and how this plug-in can optimize your site’s search appearances. There are some great posts on SEO on the internet, and you can explore the Yoast plug-in on your own to discover some of its tools, as well.

 

Next Steps:

Have fun! If you haven’t spent much time exploring the tools in your WordPress Pages section, try them out! Create a test page, and play around with adding different types of content, editing, different headers, page templates and layouts. Plot out a potential content layout, and enjoy the creative options.

 

 

*Most blogs on WordPress-based sites utilize ‘Posts’ rather than ‘Pages.’ Look for future information on Posts, why you use them to build a blog, and other uses for Posts.

ABC’s of WordPress with Worship Times: Pages, part 1

Periodic refreshers are helpful from time to time. These how-to can be a help to remind, encourage and instruct WordPress users as they work on their sites.

Pages

Pages are the basic building blocks of your WordPress site. Unless your site’s overall focus is a blog*, most of your content will be contained on pages.

This displays what you see when you add a new page (labels are courtesy of Worship Times):

Page Title:

You can change this later, but the original page title gets incorporated into the page url (web address), so if this is a page for an annual event, like Vacation Bible School, you might consider naming it the more general name, ‘Vacation Bible School,’ rather than ‘Vacation Bible School 2017.’

Once you publish your page, the permalink url will appear under this title bar:

Content Box:

The content box has several parts. The editor or main box is where content is added. This includes text, pictures, forms, maps, etc. The tool bars above the editor or content box help you add content.

 

Main tool bar:

When you first log in to your WordPress site, and open a page (or post*) you will likely see only the top line of the main tool bar. You can make the second line visible by clicking on the Toolbar Toggle option.

You will notice most of the tools are similar to a basic word processing program. You do not have the option of choosing exact font size, but the drop-down menu in the upper left of the tool bar does allow you to choose whether your text is Paragraph, or one of the Heading sizes and styles built into your particular WordPress theme. This is both to streamline your choices, and to help you create a web site that is easy on the eye, without a mishmash of fonts and font sizes.

Another unique WordPress tool is the quotation option – where you can highlight a section of text within your page by selecting it and choosing the quotation option. This will set apart the selected text from the rest of your text, often with indentation and a separate font style.

You can add links within your pages by selecting the link text and choosing the little chain link icon, and entering the url into the address bar:

You can also select the gear on the right of the url box to choose more options, including linking to other pages within your site:

You can learn what each of the other tools in the tool bar are by scrolling over them with your cursor. We encourage you to  explore the different headings and tools to discover what each of them can accomplish.

Preview, Publish and Update

The publishing box, located in the upper right corner of your page editor has helpful tools for you to know about, and one very important function that you will use on every page you create:

Regarding the appearance of your page, you can preview your newly created page (this will open a new window – to continue to edit, go back to the original tab or window), or any future edits before you publish your page, using the ‘Preview’ option, which will open a new tab or window with a page preview. You can then simply close that window or tab when you are done with the preview, and continue working in the editing section of your original window or tab.

When you are ready to publish, you will need to click on the ‘Publish’ button (the text will change to ‘Update’ once you have published the page) to make it live on your website.

Note: Simply publishing your page will not automatically add it to your site’s menu. If you want the page to appear on your site’s menu, you will need to go to your menu options under ‘Appearance’ in the main WordPress Dashboard.

There are a few other tools within the publishing box that are not used as often, such as Visibility – whether your page is public, private (only people who can log in to your website can see it), or password-protected, publishing schedule (can set it to publish in the future), and some other information about the page status and search engine optimization (SEO).

Now you have the tools to publish a basic page. Tomorrow we’ll cover more important tools offered in WordPress Pages to create a unique and welcoming website.

 

*Most blogs on WordPress-based sites utilize ‘Posts’ rather than ‘Pages.’ Look for future information on Posts, why you use them to build a blog, and other uses for Posts.

Social Media How-To: Facebook Pages 101, Part 2

In Part 1 we talked about why and how to get a Facebook page for your ministry. Today we want to share a few tips about what and how to post.

Get Started

When posting on social media, a good rule of thumb from people who have been doing this a long time is a 1:5 ratio – 1 post about yourself to 5 posts about/from other sources. This is a goal to set, even if you don’t hit it every 6 post rotation. Don’t think of your Facebook page as a Facebook version of your newsletter or announcements.

Do:

  • Post sermons or other ministry-generated content.
  • Post blog posts/announcements about unique ministries.
  • Post pictures (posts with pictures catch viewers’ eyes).
  • Post and share pictures and memes that fit the personality of your ministry.
  • Share pictures, updates and articles from other ministries and general news sources that might spur good conversations about faith and your work together.
  • Highlight your members/participants as appropriate.

Don’t:

  • Only post information and announcements from your ministry.
  • Only share pictures from your events, without any context. Would a visitor know what is going on if they hadn’t been there?
  • Only post updates with words and zero graphics – some of these are ok, but don’t make it a habit
  • Tag children or parents in a picture of a child or youth. There are definitely times to post these pictures, but by not tagging children or parents, they can remain anonymous.

Next Steps

We’ll go deeper into tools and advanced uses of Facebook pages in the upcoming months. With the advent of the Facebook Live live-streaming video tools built into your page, we recommend some further reading and testing!

We’d love to hear what you’ve posted or LIVE streamed, what has worked and what hasn’t worked so well. Your experience, context and end results can be a resource to others.

Social Media How-To: Facebook Pages 101, Part 1

If you don’t have a Facebook page for your church or ministry, we recommend you create one, today. It’s a great way to share information, events, connect people to your website, boost information to people in your community, and so much more!

Here is why and how:

Why

79% of adults in the United States are on Facebook. That’s 8 out of every 10 adults. Even among the oldest demographic surveyed (65+), 6 out of 10 of them are on Facebook. If you want to be where people spend their time, Facebook is where you need to be.

How

There are a few ways to start or claim a Facebook page for your ministry.

First, search for your ministry’s name and location on Facebook. Facebook often creates placeholder pages for businesses and non-profits that get mentioned on Facebook. It will also have as much information as they can connect to a particular location, including address, pictures, and posts where people have mentioned your ministry. The more populated your region, the more likely it is you already have a placeholder page for your ministry.

If a placeholder page exists, there will be a note below the header picture area that says, “Unofficial Page,” with the question, “Is this your business?” To claim the page, you click on “Is this your business?” and choose the appropriate verification.

The best way to claim a page involves a confirmation phone call to the main ministry number, so make sure someone is standing by ready to confirm your information with Facebook.

If an unofficial placeholder page exists, but you have already created an official page, you can also merge those pages by clicking on “Is this your business?” and choosing “Claim and verify…with a phone call or documents.”

If there is not a placeholder page already set up for your ministry, you can go to your Facebook home feed, and click on “Pages.”

Once you are in the pages section, look on the upper right corner of the main section, where it says, “More.” Select “more”, and choose, “Create Page.” Follow the instructions to create your new ministry page, and you are ready to go.

Next steps

It is a good idea to have multiple administrators on your page, which you can set up under “Settings” (top right of your page), and “Page Roles.”

 

Also, update your contact information, profile picture and header picture. Making your page look like a real page lets people know they can visit your Facebook page for news, updates, prayers and more. There is a fantastic Facebook page dedicated to the dimensions for Facebook pages (which are regularly updated). It’s a great one to bookmark.

Also, check out Part 2 of Facebook Pages 101 – getting started with posting.

New Feature: Instagram Gallery

Instagram is becoming more and more popular as a social media platform for organizations as well as individuals. Storytelling through images is both ancient and brand new.

In ancient times when few people were literate, word pictures created through oral storytelling kept the story of Jesus alive. But visual arts were also central to the practice and passing on of our Christian tradition, from wall paintings to stained glass to frescoes to illumination to iconography.

Some traditions stripped away visual media, favoring the word as they centered Word and Sacrament. At the same time the printing press allowed the printed word to get to everyone, which encouraged literacy. Words became the central means of transmitting the tradition.

But people haven’t changed all that much. We learn and absorb stories in different ways, so words alone are not enough. Even the most well-read among us can appreciate pictures, sculptures, movies and memes. It is no wonder that Instagram and Snapchat are growing so quickly, and that some of the most popular posts on Facebook are ones with pictures or videos.

Pictures are a quick way to tell a bigger story, which is why we encourage our members to have pictures on their websites that communicate who they are, and share the stories of their ministries. We have a new tool to help you do just that.

Our new feature added the ability to put an Instagram gallery directly on your Worship Times site. We know many currently have Instagram accounts, and would love to easily share those pictures to your websites. For those of you considering adding an Instagram account for your ministry, this new feature may help in the decision

Check out how easy it is to add an Instagram gallery:

Case Study: First Presbyterian Church of Ramsey

Ministry

First Presbyterian Church of Ramsey (Ramsey, NJ)

Challenge

A new website solution that also integrated with their church management software (CMS).

Details

First Presbyterian Church of Ramsey (FPC, Ramsey) wanted a new website, updating both the platform and the look. They also wanted to retain their CMS because they liked the robust capabilities it offered.

They had been using the website platform offered by the company that created and managed their CMS because the two could be fully integrated. This allowed members to access and edit their profiles, online giving, RSVP and pay for special events, and sign up for volunteer opportunities, all from the church website.

FPC, Ramsey, asked Worship Times to look into:

  1. A Worship Times website solution that would a) be more user friendly for the website administrators, and b) update the overall look and feel of the website theme and aesthetics.
  2. A Worship Times website solution that would integrate with their CMS.
  3. If a full integration with a Worship Times site and their CMS was not possible, to work with FPC, Ramsey, to come up with an alternative plan.

Worship Times Solution

Worship Times recommended a new Worship Times website, Breeze as a new CMS platform and developed a Breeze plug-in to integrate desired features into the website.

How We Got There

FPC, Ramsey, chose the Joyful theme because it had an intuitive and connective flow that would be friendly for their majority older congregation.

As Worship Times and FPC, Ramsey, were looking at their previous CMS to assess whether it would integrate with the new Worship Times site, the CMS made some big changes. They discontinued their SMS (Short Message Service/texting), which eliminated an communication tool important to FPC, Ramsey. Because of the elimination of this key feature and the difficulty of integration, FPC, Ramsey, chose to look at other CMS solutions, and Worship Times recommended Breeze, which is a great fit for the needs of many Worship Times members.

Worship Times then developed a WordPress plug-in for Breeze to meet the integration needs of FPC, Ramsey. This plug-in is available to all Worship Times members, included in their websites.

Next steps

There are more integration features that Worship Times is working to add to our Breeze plug-in, including booking and paying for special event tickets and online volunteer sign-ups directly through Worship Times and other WordPress sites using the plug-in. Stay tuned!

Breeze Plug-in for WordPress

Yesterday we talked about why we have been recommending Breeze as a church management software (CMS) solution for our members. We like how Breeze incorporates the most important elements of a database, event management and financial tracking system (with integrations with Quickbooks), and yet is still simple to use. Our members value user-friendly technology, and so do we!

In order to make the information in Breeze even more user friendly for your church or ministry members, we built a Breeze plug-in for WordPress. This plug-in is available for all WordPress sites, but is also included with your Worship Times membership.

As we said, CMS solutions do not just track how many people came to church on Sunday morning, but can assist in tracking giving, event registrations and payments and signing up volunteers. This plug-in helps you do that directly on your website, and display important information about those things to your members.

Here is a quick video that demonstrates how easy it is to connect your WordPress site to the information in your Breeze database. You’ll notice that it is similar to adding pictures, videos or event lists, which you are already familiar with from editing your Worship Times site and our other training videos.

Church Management Software and a Worship Times Plug-in!

One of the most frequent questions we have heard from members and prospective members in the last year is about church databases or church management software (CMS). Specifically, people are looking for web-based solutions that will also integrate with their websites.

Tracking membership, giving and attendance at the very least are not just about counting butts in seats, but about making sure we are attending to all of our members as we do ministry. Even the smallest churches keep track of these numbers in some form, if not a whole software database.

Church management systems can also assist you in organizing classes and groups of volunteers, event calendars and registration, outreach through directed email, texts and mailings, and more. Not all systems have the same features, but most have included these features as churches recognize that they needed an integrated system that covered all of these functions.

Churches looking at new CMS solutions today want web-based systems where members can more easily access and update their information online. Church administrators and pastors can also pull up this information if they are away from the office and need it.

Capterra has a great run-down of the top church management software products. If you are looking for a new church management system, this is a great resource.

There are a lot of fantastic products out there, but for members who are looking for a CMS option that also integrates well with their websites, we have been recommending Breeze. Worship Times strives to provide ministries with user-friendly, affordable website solutions, and Breeze fits this model as well.

Worship Times members value ease in usability, and both the Capterra review and this comparative review from Breeze show how Breeze gets top marks in that area. Breeze compares well to even more powerful systems because it integrates well with programs like Quickbooks that many churches use and like for financial tracking. Several of our members have already chosen to move to Breeze.

With this in mind, we have developed a Breeze plug-in for WordPress that will more smoothly integrate your website and database, and make it easier to access for church members.

Check out how our Breeze plug-in will work to integrate Breeze into your WordPress website.

Announcing a New WordPress Plugin in Partnership With sermon.net

Black computer keyboard with a 'Connect' key in place of the 'Enter' keyChurches often see new technology as a problem to be solved, or an obstacle to overcome to get on with “real” ministry. Worship Times and sermon.net were created by people who are excited by the opportunities in new forms of technology for deepening ministry and faith, and wanted to share their excitement and knowledge with others.

Even with the advent of website and podcasting platforms that can be more easily understood and used, these technologies can be intimidating for people not using them every day. And that’s where companies like sermon.net and Worship Times come in. Working with people who both understand the technology and are enthusiastic about helping you use it makes all the difference.

It only makes sense that two companies doing parallel work to help churches and ministries would end up working together to create a powerful new tool.

Worship Times uses WordPress, the most popular website platform in the world[1], as the basis for their websites, creating themes and tools specifically designed for the work of ministry. At the same time sermon.net built a powerful network of tools allowing churches and ministries to upload, store, deliver and livestream audio and video content (and more) efficiently and easily without a huge cost.

sermon.net has offered some unique ways to connect to their tools and apps through both PC and mobile technology, but had not yet developed a plug-in specifically for WordPress. As Worship Times began to look into the best ways to help their members connect their sermon.net content to their own websites, we were impressed with the work that sermon.net has done and continues to do. We wanted to make it even easier for our members to use sermon.net services and tools, so we decided to develop our own WordPress plug-in, along with the technical support of sermon.net developers.

Working with sermon.net has been a fun and productive collaboration. It is good to meet and work with partners who share the same goals and values, and who can help you improve what you do. We consistently seek to work with such partners when we are able, to be able to offer the best tools to our members, and to further the work of their ministries.

This plug-in will be available to any Worship Times members who are using or would like to use sermon.net services, which you can read about and sign up for at sermon.net. This plug-in is also available to sermon.net users with WordPress sites not on the Worship Times network.

May your Advent and Christmas seasons also be filled with fruitful and meaningful work with good partners and new friends.

[1] About 27% of websites worldwide use WordPress (up from 25% a year ago – https://w3techs.com).