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10 ways WordPress 2.5 will help you manage your church blog

Though still under development, the upcoming release of WordPress 2.5 is already receiving some very positive reviews. One in particular I’d like to share with you from a church-blogging perspective is entitled ’10 Things You Need to Know About WordPress 2.5′ by Aaron Brazell at TechSailor; who asserts:

WordPress is about to release version 2.5 into the wild (It just hit Release Candidate yesterday so the release date, though officially not known, is coming soon). If you’ve been using WordPress.com or have peeked at the demo site you will know the biggest change coming to WordPress with this release.

You might ask, “Where did WordPress 2.4 go?” The answer to this is that it was skipped. Yes, that’s right, the 120-day release cycle was scrapped this time and you essentially have two releases in one. Again, the changes are vast and countless. This is a huge release.

Huge release indeed, in fact two words – well actually, two names of one person sum up the massive improvements to administrator user interface up for me: Jeffrey Zeldman.

For those unaware, Mr.Zeldman puts the “cool” into coding and usability and has so for years. And with that, he and his crew at Happy Cog Studios were asked to perform usability research and testing. The end result is an entirely revamped administrator interface that includes a dashboard that I suspect will no longer be ignored due to its formerly overly complex design.

All this making all the more reasons you should consider leveraging WordPress as a light weight content management system for your church &/or charity website. So taking some license with Mr. Brazell’s excellent “10 Things” I’d like present 10 ways WordPress 2.5 will help you manage your church blog:

1. Dashboard Overhaul
In terms of your church and/or charity – the improved dashboard means quicker visibility of who in your ministry is posting what and when, along with who from the outside world is linking and/or commenting on your compelling content. Basically, it’s a heads-up that actually is quite literally, ‘visibly better.’The new, and more usable wordpress 2.5 dashboard
2. Menu Layout
Anyone who’s managed a church website using WordPress knows that the more plug-ins one adds, the more confusing the horizontal menu options become. Rendering these options as vertical, drop-down menus cleans up this confusion using a menu metaphor more familiar to your crack online ministry team.
3. Widget Handling
For someone who hasn’t employed widgets before, the (old) interface could be initially a bit confusing. Alot of scrolling “below the fold” to get and work on one widget on a time. Now things are side-by-side so you have a better understanding of what widgets are available and how they relate. Probably still not simple enough for a church secretary, but certainly doable by a youth minister.
4. Visual Editor Improvements
I gotta say, I’ve recently encountered some issues inviting others to write about their experiences over on blogJordan.com. These individuals are representative of church staff and/or lay persons whom currently email you a Word document and pray you have time to post. I’m hoping the addition of TinyMCE 3 support will remedy that all to familiar bottle neck scenario.The new wordpress 2.5 TinyMCE inspired editor
5. Flash Uploader
Go tell your youth and music minister that posting YouTube videos is now a snap with the addition of an “Add Media” feature.
6. Plugin Auto-upgrade
Plug-ins are what help you customize WordPress into a church content management system on the cheap. The addition of an auto-upgrade feature streamlines the soon-to-be-formerly tedious process of deployingplugin upgrades.
7. Custom Sizes for Thumbnails
My only fear is that this excellent new feature will inspire a whole generation of church websites displaying their lifeless and personality-free, bricks and mortar on theirfrontpage. That said, at least if they do so using this feature, they’ll not only avoid a write-up by me about image bloat , but also create thumbnails whose size better fits the context of the article and the layout of the site.
8. Tag Management
Tags are a great way of identifying keywords associated with the sermon, study, or event post. The more ‘Flickr-like’ capabilities make it a bit easier and encouraging to employ.
9. Password Strength Too
Anyone who has engaged in system security for any length of time will tell you, easy passwords make it easy for bad guys to hack your site. So though this feature won’t prevent your church accountant from taping a Post-it of his password on the underside of his keyboard, at least it’ll help him realize that “b0scovyt3″ makes for a stronger password than “boscovite.” They may not take the system’s warning to heart, but at least it provide a password weakness warning similar to those offered by Google and Yahoo.
Stronger passwords for wordpress 2.5
10. Bonus Item: Timestamp Sanity
I think the biggest benefit of this feature will be the ability to better organize past sermons and studies entered in batches. Meaning, changing the dates of sermon posts to reflect the actual presentation date isalot less challenging.

As with any release candidate, there’s still a bit of testing before the final release. That said, perhaps now is a good time to plan considering using a blogging system likeWordPress to manage the compelling content of your church and/or charity website.

Especially now that the ‘management’ interface will become far friendlier and easier for you and your staff and/or volunteers to navigate and use.

For more reading about WordPress 2.5, I recommend the following posts: