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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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 the link button 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 textarea. 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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