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Case Study: Updated Functionality for Church Website

Case StudyWhat do you do when the sermon player stops working and one of your faithful members needs to hear the sermons while in rehab?

How to you add the weekly announcements to your site when the blog page has been excluded from the original design?

These were the two questions that finally jump started the process to update the back end design of the Community Bible Church website.

I had been on the committee back in 2013 when we hired a design firm to create a church website for us on the WordPress platform. Once the site was complete, I assumed the volunteer position of webmaster. I tried to remember to update the calendar and occasionally added pictures to some pages.

Research to Update Site

As I grew more familiar with WordPress and made the commitment to use the Genesis framework on my sites, I grew frustrated with some of the plugins and the lack of functionality in some areas of our site. Our slider plugin broke the site almost a year ago and had to be deactivated. When our sermon plugin stopped working, I knew it was time to do the research necessary to update our site.

I wanted to keep the logo, graphics, and basic site design that had been developed. I chose to switch to Genesis and a StudioPress theme, Outreach Pro, because it matched the layout of the current site. Studio Press Outreach Pro for Church WebsiteThe original site had been custom coded, but I was pretty sure I could duplicate the format with this theme.

The sermon plugin that had stopped working was not going to be updated any time soon (according to the developer). So I began to research other options. I knew I wanted a plugin that was theme independent. I discovered WPforChurch.com offering a suite of plugins specifically designed for churches available for a reasonable annual fee. I downloaded the Church Pack Pro and the Sermon Manager.

My next step was to download a copy of all the graphics and images from the site. I did this using FTP (file transfer protocol) and Filezilla software. Most hosting services allow you to set up an FTP account and access your website files for ease of upload and download functions.

Starting the New Church Website

Case Study Church Website Update Home PageUsing cPanel access from my host, I installed WordPress in a new folder and installed Genesis and Outreach Pro. I then installed and activated my standard recommended plugins along with Church Pack Pro and Sermon Manager. Additional plugins to match the style and functionality include:

  • Responsive WordPress Slider – Soliloquy Lite – for the slider on the home page
  • Genesis Title Toggle – allows you to turn off the titles on specific pages
  • Genesis Simple Sidebars – allows you to easily create and use new sidebar widget areas
  • WP-Members – for private member pages that require user log in to access

With a little bit of tweaking to the CSS, I was able to use the home page graphics from the original site on the updated version. My goal was to duplicate the look and feel of the original site as much as possible, while providing the missing functionality.

The sliders on the home page are created in Canva using copyright released images from Pixabay. Canva is a free online graphics program that allows you to easily create custom size graphics with text and overlays.

Transferring Content

Case Study Church Website Update Ministries PageOnce I had the design in place, I created pages needed to share information about our church. To transfer the content, I opened the original site in a separate browser window and used copy and paste to transfer most of the content. I used Canva and Pixaby again for the images at the top of the ministry pages. I used the Genesis Simple Sidebars to create custom menu sidebars for the various ministry pages.

I moved all the sermon files into the appropriate folder on the new site and updated all the sermon content for 2015.

Private Member Pages

The final step in the process was to set up the function for member-only access pages. I decided to have the login form at the bottom of the home page instead of placing it on a separate page. Any user registration requires admin approval. Once approved, members have access to the church directory and weekly prayer requests.

Determining the correct settings for the forms took a little tweaking. By following the instructions from the folks at RocketGeek Interactive, it was a success.

Results

The final result is a fully functioning website, sermons available each week, an updated events calendar, and weekly announcements posted on the blog page.

Resources:

Merri Dennis WordPress Tech SupportTo learn more about the church specific plugins I used, visit WPforChurch.com.

All the themes I offer as a part of my standard packages can be viewed at StudioPress.

You can read more about WP-Members by visiting the developer’s website.

Do you need a place to get your WordPress questions answered quickly? Join my WordPress support group on Facebook.

 

 

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