Select Editing Tools Suitable for the Kind of Website You Want to Make
Small not-for-profits and many small churches often don’t have adequate funds to hire Web masters. Sometimes they make the mistake of creating a fancy site with professional help, but without sufficient funds to retain an expert to maintain it (weeding out old material, putting up new). Another mistake is buying expensive website editing software which takes considerable learning and practice to master, and resides on only one computer. This program will sooner or later require costly updates. And the person familiar with the program may get sick or move on. Then the website languishes for lack of an experienced editor.
What-You-See-Is-What-You Get, free Open Source Webpage Editors, such as KompoZer (derived from the former Netscape Composer program). There are many, many others. Just Google “free web page editors” and you’ll see! This software resides on the local computer, but it is free, so that each member of your Telecom team can have a copy. And updates are free, too.
Server-based* website editing tools, such as Google websites. A common tool is templates for web pages. You fill in the templates with your own text and graphics and even mini-programs, such as calendars and forms. Some template providers charge a fee for their services, some do not, but instead make their money by placing ads on the margins of your pages (not too distracting, really).
[* A server is a computer on the internet that serves data to your computer, and/or provides an application that enables you to accomplish a task.]
Free blogging software, such as Web based WordPress, or the free downloadable program, Windows Live Writer. Depending on your church’s mission, you might decide that a blog would be perfectly suitable for your website. Or, you might use a blog linked to a more static site (some call these “shingle sites” because they say little more than who you are and what you do; and that information doesn’t change much). The advantage of using blog software is that it’s very user-friendly, permitting you to easily post text, pictures, and videos, and interact with the public using comments.
Wiki sofware. Wiki means “quick” in Hawaiian. Wiki software first became popular in community colleges where it enabled students and professors to interact with each other remotely, facilitating distance learning. Wiki software makes it very easy for teams of people to edit a site together. It’s a terrific solution for an organization like our presbytery, which has lots of incoming information from sub-groups. Editors can be trained to tend sections of the site, which reduces the maintenance tasks for the site manager, who is notified by email whenever an edit is made. Our presbytery uses a PbWorks.com wiki, which is server-based. Another inexpensive and very versatile wiki tool is Drupal, which involves free downloadable software.
Social networking software. A social network is a “gathering place” in cyberspace where people can share words, pictures, videos, and music, and make new friends. Social networking software provides protection in meeting new people by letting you communicate without divulging your email address. Some very well known and very large social networks include Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, and LinkedIn, but there are probably thousands more. Your church could create its own free social network at www.ning.com, or join www.mychurch.org, where many churches have access to the same social networking tools. Wetpaint.com is a cross between a social network and a wiki. You might consider Wetpaint for your church’s website instrument.