But What About…

Is this where the plug(-in) goes?

Our top goals for our Worship Times websites are: We want them to look good. We want them to be affordable. We want them to be easy to use, so our members can have the freedom to customize.

We design our templates to be elegant in style, and easy to use. We rigorously test our templates, plug-ins and integrations we add to our system. Not every template or plug-in designed for WordPress works well, and some may break your site altogether. Worship Times seeks only the highest quality products to offer our members.

Our members often have unique needs and ask us about adding particular plug-ins or integrations to meet those needs. They may say, “I love my site, but I really wish it did…,” or “What about this plug-in?” When we are asked about such services, like a good picture slider, a database system, or more, Worship Times looks at multiple options. Then we vet and test the ones that best meet the needs of the member requesting the plug-in. We also consider which plug-ins and integrations will best meet the needs of members with similar needs.

The ones that both meet the specific needs and work well with WordPress get approval. The ones that have wide appeal are added to the whole network, so other members can easily add those capabilities to their sites. It is important to us that every piece of your website works in concert with another. We have created a system where our members are very much in control of the content of their websites, but do not have to worry about security, system or plug-in updates, or which plug-ins will work best for their needs.

We have recently added several plug-in options as well as vetted new options on long-time, standard Worship Times plug-ins, such as Gravity Forms. We’ll be talking about all of these updates in the coming weeks, but we wanted to share a bit about the work that goes into each and every piece of the Worship Times system as your website needs change over time.

Do you have an idea that requires extra tools on your website? Ask us. We may already have the plug-in or integration tested and available to be added to your site, or will find one that works.

Worship Times: Worship Leader Magazine Editor’s Pick for 2016

bestofbug-2016-200For the third year in a row, Worship Times has been named Worship Leader Magazine Editor’s Pick for Digital Worship Resources: Web Development!

Meeting the digital needs of ministries and non-profits is our call and passion. We love helping our members discover new ways to communicate and improve upon existing ones. We help ministries tell their story and share their work and call in the world.

Being chosen again as an Editor’s Pick by Worship Leader Magazine reaffirms our commitment to the work we do together, and energizes us for future collaborations with churches, ministries, and non-profits.

We thank our members for the confidence and trust they put in us and allowing us to accompany them in ministry.

Introducing: Jennifer Haley!

jenniferhaleyThings are getting exciting at Worship Times! We have a lot of new members, and together we are engaging in exciting new forms of digital ministry. As we grow our membership, we have been looking for the right people to add on our Worship Times team so we can continue to meet the needs and dreams of our members as best we can. So, we just added a new site builder to our team who will be a wonderful fit, Jennifer Haley.

Jennifer graduated Cum Laude from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and a double minor in English and Psychology. Over the years, she has held positions in advertising, marketing, and television. With each job she has grown in her knowledge of communications and administration. Her most challenging (and rewarding) job has been that of stay-at-home mom to her children. This has blessed her with more compassion, organization, determination, and patience.

As the wife of an U.S. Army soldier, she has become highly self-motivated and holds a special place in her heart for the military. She loves spending time with family and traveling. Her hobbies include photography, reading, and antiquing. She is dedicated to being a valuable member of Worship Times. She currently lives in Murfeesboro, TN with her husband and two children.

Jennifer is already hard at work, and we are excited to have her work out in the world on your websites. Welcome, Jennifer!

 

So, You’re Ready for a New Website: Content

content blog imageA Good Church Website Communicates:

  1. A reflection of who your church is.
  2. Your commitment to communication in various forms.
  3. Your awareness to reach outside your walls.
  4. Ability to generate discussion and connection.
  5. As body language, grammar, and eye contact are to personal communication, a well-designed website is to digital communication.
  6. “Design isn’t just what it looks and feels like, it’s also how it works.” Steve Jobs

What are the things that should be included in our new website?

Here are Worship Times’ Top 11 things people want in your church’s website:

11. Organized Navigation: too many menu items and dropdowns can be overwhelming. Cull what’s not needed and organize!

10. Text, but not too wordy. Do you want to read pages upon pages of text when you visit a website? Neither do your visitors.

9. Audio/Video of sermons. 50% of visitors to a church website downloaded a sermon (it’s a great preview) 80% of first-time church visitors listened to a sermon online before they attended a particular church.

8. Updated information. Your site isn’t vintage. It’s old. Update it.

7. Coordinating colors. Rainbows and neon green don’t look good. Period.

6. Visitor-centric language – Using churchy language or language that’s unique or insider to your congregation or ministry is exclusive. Be inclusive and include information that’s easy to understand for all visitors and members, alike.

5. PICTURES/images. Of people actually in your church/ministry. A picture of the building is nice, put what goes on there? Sharing the life of your church tells a story. Great pictures can tell it well.

4. How to contact someone. Email a staff person. Fill out a contact form. How they call the church. 60% of visitors to a church website couldn’t find the information they were looking for or even a way to find it out!

3. When Worship Services are! It’s amazing how many church websites we’ve visited that didn’t list their worship times, anywhere.

2. YOUR LOCATION! The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s that basic!

#1 – A website. It’s 2016, and many churches still don’t have a website. It’s the new front door. 85% of people who are first time visitors to a church visited the website, first. 

What messages need to be included in our church website?

  1. Who are you as a church.
  2. What you offer: for spiritual growth, Christian education, mission and fellowship.
  3. How visitors can benefit from being part of your community.
  4. What you would want to know about the church.
  5. If it doesn’t answer the questions above, get rid of it.

Featured Client: Presbytery of Philadelphia

pby of philThe Presbytery of Philadelphia is a long-time member of Worship Times, and we were excited to recently build and launch a brand new site for the presbytery that includes updated design, navigation and other usability features. You might think we get sad when our members start talking about a website facelift, but we actually think it’s great.

We encourage our members to update the look of their sites every couple of years to keep them fresh and working well. Design and web tools change and improve over time, and we want our members to take advantage of new tools that have been created or added since their last updates. Also, we hope your ministries are growing and changing as well, and the website you created three years ago might not fit you anymore.

Our work with the Presbytery of Philadelphia also reflects the kind of relationship we like to have with our members. As the presbytery recognized the need for an updated look, and a website that better highlighted the specific work and mission of their presbytery, they began conversations with Worship Times.

When we work with our members, we appreciate these conversations about what the goals of a particular website need to be, the character of a particular ministry, and the needs of visitors to that ministry’s website. Our goal is to use our own ministry experience and web design skills to translate your ministry’s mission to a website that fits the ministry’s character and is easily accessible and understandable for users. As your ministry needs and mission are grown, updated, or become outdated, we want to continue to be part of those conversations.

The Presbytery of Philadelphia wanted to reorganize their blog, make navigation of their resources for each regional group of churches clearer, and better highlight ministry happening throughout the presbytery, all in a design that flowed from their updated logo and color scheme. The result is clean and user-friendly, and lifts up in new ways their innovative Ministry and Leadership Incubator, the work being done in camp and conference ministry, community outreach and connectional ministries.

Presbyteries do a lot of work, and have a wide audience, so their websites can be complicated. Being able to showcase that work in a beautiful and easy-to-use website is a satisfying job that we are happy to share with you. So, go take a look!

The Real Cost of Building a Good Website

 

"Money" spelled out in Scrabble tiles

Picture from StockMonkey

You want a new website for your ministry.

You want a site that’s clean, organized, but also secure and has the tools you need to share the information you need and tell your story.

But now comes the scary part, talking about the cost. We all hate talking about money. And in ministry settings, it seems impolite, even a bit dirty. But the reality is, ministries take money to run, or resources of some kind, and many are not free.

Last week we talked about the costs of having a poor website, or no website at all for your ministry – it’s not about putting butts in pews or having the flashiest promotional material on the web, it’s about telling this beautiful story of faith well. And a good website that is easily updated and used well does cost some money. Worship Times endeavors to use your money wisely with a unique package of tools designed for ministries, as well as a team of people who see our work as not just a quality business, but as supporting ministries in their mission.

On our What’s Included page, we list the great features included in our sites, but we wanted to go a bit deeper into these tools, so you truly understand what’s included in your Worship Times site:

Word Press is an easy to use platform to update and manage your website.  Word Press is open source. Therefore, you’re never locked into WT’s own system. If you are ever dissatisfied, you can take your site, and host it elsewhere.

Gravity Forms: assists in making building forms, registration, surveys, donations, and other forms a breeze. All you have to do is drag and drop!

Backup Buddy: every week your files and data is backed up, zipped, and sent to a separate server on Amazon S3.

Support System: We are always here to help. Our support system is built into your website. You have access to our team. Support is never outsourced.

Learning Center: A video tutorial library is built into your system to assist with every section of your site.

Publications: You can easily add MP3, PDFs, video, and other media to your website. We built a publications tools you can easily add and display sermons, newsletters, Bible studies, meeting minutes, and so much more!

Staff Manager: You can easily add and update staff! Visitors can search for your staff and contact them directly from the website. Sorting by department or ministry team is available. Many ministries use this tool to display their current board or session.

Media: You can display your 3rd party creations. Easily display videos from YouTube and Vimeo, live stream from Ustream, play clips from Hulu, offer directions with Google Maps, take a survey with Poll Daddy, share musical selections with Spotify, and much more!

Social Media: We’ve made it easy to display social media buttons to your favorite accounts.  You can also display feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. As new social media is invented, our offerings grow. Our team stays on top of the trends, and updates our offerings to you.

Members Only: With the click of a button, you can restrict certain parts of your website to be viewed only by members who are logged into your website.

Google Analytics: Track your website visitors with the robust Google tools. We use Google Analytics for WordPress by Yoast to tie your website into Google’s program.

StudioPress Themes: Professionally designed premium WordPress themes.  StudioPress developed Genesis which is the industry standard in WordPress designed frameworks. Most of our website solutions begin with a StudioPress theme. Our members have access to our constantly growing design catalog and can switch themes at anytime at no additional cost.

VaultPress: VaultPress is a subscription-based security and backup service for self-hosted WordPress sites. VaultPress is built on the same grid that reliably serves many millions of WordPress.com sites.

Cloud Flare Pro: CloudFlare protects and accelerates your website. Block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers. CloudFlare-powered website see significant improvements in performance and a decrease in spam and other attacks.

Max CDN: With a content delivery network (CDN) your larger files are spread out over many different servers to vastly speed up your website.

Liquid Web Dedicated Server: Liquid Web is our hosting company with an unwavering dedication to providing the best hosting product available. We use a dedicated quad –core box with upgrades for security and speed.

This sounds great, but what’s it cost. (We understand church budgets. 😉

 

Cost Comparison:

To match us you’d spend, $8,017.95 in your first year, and $7, 549.00 in following years (without any upgrades or site design changes)

To use the middle ground on your own: $2,629.95 your first year and $2,161.00 in following years.

To use the cheap path on your own: $2,208. 95 your first year and $1, 740.00 in following years.

With Worship Times, your standard package is $1063 in the first year, and $564 in following years. That includes unlimited theme changes on your own and a once-a-year change of theme with assistance from our staff.

Worship Times, not only saves you money, where in most ministry and non-profit budgets every penny counts. Worship Times saves time. We help set you up, and train you to make the most out of your website. Your time is precious. Ignoring the site is not an option. Our self-updating calendars, event management system, and scheduled posts help you stay on top of  those communications tasks that often take a back seat to other needs.

So, come talk to us about your website needs, we want to hear your story.

Featured Client: UNCO

Unco logo

Worship Times was founded in order to help ministries tell their stories through digital media. We created a platform that was easily accessible to users – both technologically and financially – but also provided the highest quality websites and digital communications. We believed that quality did not have to be sacrificed for affordability or user ease, but could go hand-in-hand. We have found similar creative work in the people and ministries that have participated in the Unconference, a church-based, open-format gathering of people who believe that church doesn’t have to be complicated to be amazing. People who are doing remarkable things with very little conventional resources.

People like Anna Woofenden, who started The Garden Church, and saw the possibilities of extending God’s Kingdom to an anonymous alleyway. Mercy Junction, which was created at one of the first Unco gatherings from a conversation between Brian Merritt and Laura Becker. Ministries supported and inspired by Unco and the people who gather there range from these to The Kirk Coffee, Love Wins, Isaiah’s Table, The Word House, Sanctuary for the Arts, Our Common Ground, and Open Gathering. (And more.) Worship Times has been in the mix from the beginning. Having conversations about digital ministry and communications, providing websites, cheering on Spirit-filled ministry.

Worship Times doesn’t just play lip service to innovative ministries, nor do we believe innovative ministry comes in a particular shape, size or age category. We are working and sharing moral Unco waves hisupport with people doing creative ministry in well-established churches, and people who are not sure what they are creating as they just get started, fueled by a calling and passion of the Spirit of God in the world. If you are excited by the work of Christ in the world, and aren’t sure what’s next, Unco is a great place to have that conversation. More than once someone who has come to Unco with the seed of an idea, or not even yet a seed, has gone away and started something new. Maybe right away, maybe a few years down the road, new ministries, resurrected ministries, simply new ideas in an old system.

It’s powerful, it’s Christ-filled, and it’s real. If you need something like that, join us at Unco for some of these life-giving conversations. We’ll see you there.

Next Unco dates: May 16-18, 2016, at Stony Point Center in Stony Point, NY. October (dates tba), 2016, at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, CA.

Announcement: Megan Hansen

Megan HansenWorship Times is excited to announce another change in our staff team.

We are pleased to announce that Megan Hansen has accepted the position of Director of Operations for Worship Times. Megan joined Gyura Communications in July of 2015. It was quickly realized her ability and skills best fit working with the ministries we serve.

Though her title and responsibilities have increased, Megan will continue to meet members’ needs, from initial conversations about website design and organization, to social media, to questions about how to utilize digital tools to reach beyond the church walls in new and creative ways. She is uniquely qualified for this position, having volunteered and worked in church and camp ministries for over 20 years as well as extensive experience with non-profit organizations and for-profit corporate work. She has a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Washington, and a Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Beyond Megan’s experience, she has particular gifts in communication, strategy, and connectional ministry. She is a great resource in accompanying ministries accompanying them in  utilizing digital tools and services offered through Worship Times to tell their stories. We are excited that she will be focusing exclusively on working with Worship Times.

Megan lives in the Houston area where her husband is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor. They enjoy life with their daughter and a crew of three cats and a dog.

Announcement: Jake Warren, Director of Support

Jake WarrenWorship Times is excited to announce changes in our staff team. First, let’s introduce you to Jake Warren:

Jake Warren is a lover of technology with veteran experience in the customer service domain, and is dedicated to solving problems big or small. This makes him ideal for his new role as Director of Support for Gyura Communications. Jake will be working with both Worship Times and Poka Yoke Design members to help them effectively use their websites and other digital tools. No question is too small for him to tackle with enthusiasm, and he truly takes the fear out of learning new things when working with our members. Consider him a master translator of Technology to English.

Jake’s experience and thoughtful approach also allows him to bring creative and lasting solutions to the big problems and technological emergencies. He has a teacher’s heart. Our members value his attention to detail, and the care he takes in addressing their issues.

As a member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society, Jake graduated with a BA in Psychology from The University of Memphis. His diverse professional experience lends well to his work with the wide variety of work between Poka Yoke Design and Worship Times. Jake’s experience includes executive level tech support in corporate and ministry settings. Jake most recently served three years in tech support at the headquarters of an international Christian denomination. His favorite pastime outside the office is hanging out with his wife Megan and their two pups, Bogie and Hattie.

Jake will also be posting tips and tricks about Worship Times WordPress sites on our blogs on Thursdays, starting next week, January 14, so check them out!

Worship Times is a Worship Leader Magazine Editor’s Pick for 2015

Worship Leader Magazine 2015 Editor's PickWe are delighted to announce that, for the second year in a row, Worship Times has been named as a 2015 Worship Leader Magazine Editor’s Pick for Web Developer!

Our passion for digital ministry comes from our excitement in working with customers who are passionate about sharing the Gospel through their particular experiences and stories. We couldn’t do what we do without the creativity and love of ministry we see in our members.

Being chosen again as an Editor’s Pick by Worship Leader Magazine reaffirms our commitment to the work we do together, and energizes us for future collaborations with churches and other ministries.

In the next year, we will continue to focus on and strengthen our digital ministry solutions for ministries and non-profits. If you are thinking about a new or refreshed website, or a new ministry project using digital media, let us know – we’d love to work with you to make your dreams a reality.

Let us help take your website to the next level, or go beyond your website, and explore:

  • Overall Communication Strategies
  • Digital Outreach
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media
  • Content Creation – Written, Audio, Video
  • Accessibility – How can you be welcoming to all?

And so much more. What are your needs and dreams? We’d love to help.