Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Spring Cleaning, or time for a HealYourChurchWebsite do-over.

Time for Heal Your Church Website to upgrade her browsing experience.The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming and WordPress 2.5 has been ‘in the wild’ for a couple of weeks. These factors, and the fact that my own blog is getting a bit crufty has me thinking it is time for yet another Heal Your Church Website do-over. That and I’ve been getting some ‘love notes’ that either fall into the category “how do I get started” or “you reviewed my site, so here is why your blog sucks.” I figure success is the best response, so here’s my initial game plan – thinking out loud as some of you may be in a similar situation of having to freshen up your church and/or charity website.

  1. Research

    I’ve already got a good idea of what I want to say, so mostly in this case I need study what resonates via the results I’ve been collecting via Google Analytics and FeedBurner, including:

    • keywords,
    • popular pages,
    • unusual usages of feeds,
    • any patterns in exit pages,
    • any patterns in entry pages,
    • and any patterns in people navigating into the site.

    I’ll couple this with looking over my error logs to see where people are stumbling the most. I think looking over some of the nicer ‘love notes’ may also be useful as they’re often requests for information I’ve published before.

  2. Plan and ‘objectifry’

    Meaning, based on the research above – along with day-to-day experiences, enumerate a set of requirements and objectives mostly based on needs, though since it is a personal blog, some wants too.

  3. Backup everything

    I need to not only save everything, but also insure I have an effective restoration/rollback plan in the off-chance things go horribly wrong (like I don’t have the right version of PHP or MySQL, etc …).

  4. Re-factor my categories

    Some of these old categories are crufty and unintelligible. They need my healin’ sooner than later and I’m thinking probably better to do it before the upgrade than after – though the new version of WordPress may have some features and/or plug-ins that make such a migration less painful. I’ll have to research that.

  5. Draw out a new template

    First on paper, then later using PhotoShop or PhotoImpact. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the whole Byzantine Cross on the blue domes of Orthodox Churches at Santorini, and may have an opportunity soon to be there – but overall the current theme is beginning to wear. That and it’s just too darn dark. Perhaps rotating images like I recently wrote when I developed the almost ready for public purview Oliver North’s and Chuck Holton’s American Heroes book blog.

  6. Upgrade to WordPress 2.5

    Knowing already that this step will likely include the following plugins:

    I already use some of the above, I also know others come ‘bundled’ with the WordPress 2.5 release. Also a word of warning to WordPress “n00bz” – I’ve got a very good idea of what I’m delivering here content-wise, so any and/or all of the selections above are based upon those needs; rather than those ‘neato-keen‘ inspirations.

  7. Update the Theme

    Either generate from scratch and/or adopt and/or modify an existing WordPress theme that is

    • A wider fixed or fluid width
    • Widget ready
    • Has an options page
    • 2 or 3 columns
    • Right sidebar
    • Brighter colors

    I also need to code the theme (or write a plugin) so the last 2 or 3 posts display in full, the next 8 or 10 as excerpts.

  8. Test the site

    • first for functional soundness (technical testing)
    • then to see if it meets my goals/objectives (use cases)
  9. Clean up crufty content

    Go through older articles, eliminating/archiving stuff that’s no longer relevant and cleaning-up some that got hammered by moving from MT 1.0 through 3.0 then to WP 1.5 through to 2.5.

  10. Sit back and enjoy

    Create numerous annoying posts about what pains I suffered executing on the above game plan.

So here’s your chance kids – got something you’d like to see done differently here? Speak up, now’s your chance.

Oh and if I get enough love notes and/or comments on this topic, I’ll discuss answers in a fun follow-up post. So be sure to make your notes to me pithy and quotable (and don’t forget the link to your site !-).

2 Comments

  1. I just moved our calendar over to Google Calendar. Great article – probably one of the most useful.

  2. Nice article. Looking forward to the update!

    I would add Subscribe to Comments to the plugin list. It’s pretty handy and I find it gets used on my site all the time. You may not need the You Tube plugins with the improvement in media handling with WP2.5.

    I also like the “Best Foot Forward” plugin which allows you to generate a featured posts listing based on any tag you decide. You have a great library of posts now and it would help new readers get their feet wet quickly.

    I bet you do get some great “fan” mail… I’ve always wanted to see yours and Vincent Flanders’. I bet he gets some doosies!