Blog

RenWeb Acquires Faithwebsites & Auction Trak

teampic-2015-12-31We are excited to announce that Dynamic Internet Solutions signed an agreement to have RenWeb, a Nelnet company, acquire the Faithwebsites and Auction Trak product lines.

Auction Trak will join RenWeb’s growing family of online products serving schools and nonprofit organizations.

Faithwebsites will remain largely as it is today – serving churches and ministries with the same easy-to-use, yet robust Content Management System.

Curriculum Trak and Donor Trak, two of our other DIS products, were not acquired and will remain part of the DIS family.

Business As Usual

Right now, even today, not much will change for you and your users. We’re not moving underlying networks or making any significant changes. Support and service will continue as normal.

For Curriculum Trak customers, you will continue to work with the same team – including Sheryl, Dan, Laura and Mike. Again, Curriculum Trak remains under the same ownership and management of DIS.

Riding Along the Change

One of the reasons we are excited is that most of our Faithwebsites team is going right along with our customers – they have joined the Nelnet team and will continue serving you just as they always have. This includes Jeremy, one of the founding partners, as well as Matt, Molly, Amanda B, Bekah, Graham, Amanda S, and Will. They are determined to continue doing what they do best – serving ministries and exploring new avenues for growth in websites and online auction fundraising.

Some Changes Are Tough

There’s always some hardships with change, isn’t there? As part of this, Mike and Jeremy had to pursue different paths, after a 14+ year business relationship together. Jeremy is moving on to new development opportunities with RenWeb, and will remain a part of both the Faithwebsites and Auction Trak teams. Mike will continue to operate DIS and focus on growing and developing our Curriculum Trak product. The needs of curriculum mapping are quite different from website building. While this change is hard, the blessing is that it allows each product to flourish and meet the specific needs of our customers.

Bob, a long time member of the customer support team, will be continuing with the Faithwebsites team through the transition. However, in the coming months, he is transitioning to full-time ministry.

Also, near and dear to our team’s heart is the changing relationship with Lisa, our operations manager. After 5+ years of managing things here at DIS, Lisa won’t be moving on with the Faithwebsites team. Not to worry though – Lisa will officially rejoin the Faithwebsites, School Site AND Curriculum Trak products as a customer and marketing consultant!

For those of you who personally know or have been able to work directly with us (Mike, Jeremy or Lisa), know that going forward, the Faithwebsites and Auction Trak team hold our vision for the company mission dear and will continue to honor what this company was built upon – dedication to those who serve others through ministry or education.

RenWeb’s School Site and Faithwebsites – how are they different? How are they the same?

School Site, the CMS product for RenWeb, is actually the same Faithwebsites CMS! DIS and RenWeb have been partners for many years, so this acquisition really just brings all the products under one roof.

School Site differs from Faithwebsites in that it is integrated with RenWeb, and supported by the RenWeb customer support team that already works hand and hand with those schools. Faithwebsites is not integrated with RenWeb, and additionally certain service plan levels for Faithwebsites do not offer the same level of tools, modules and storage that the School Site’s plan may offer.

Going forward, Faithwebsites will look to grow by serving additional churches and ministries. School Site will continue to focus on serving private and Christian schools. While we may start to enhance each CMS differently in the future, right now, there’s are no changes for you and your users.

I’m a current Faithwebsites customer, do I have to move to RenWeb / School Site?

No! All current customers of Faithwebsites can simply continue as you are – FWS customers! Like we said above, it’s business as usual for you.

Why RenWeb?

As mentioned above, DIS and RenWeb have been partners for a long time. As RenWeb’s niche market is serving private and Christian schools, and a good share of Faithwebsites customers are schools or church & school combined customers, it made great sense to put all the products under the same roof.

We are a church, not a school… where does RenWeb fit for us?

RenWeb doesn’t currently work with churches specifically, although working in the Christian education industry, they connect with churches all the time. It has been a goal of theirs to begin serving the church and ministry sector, and with this acquisition, that goal can begin to be realized! Remember though, Faithwebsites continues serving churches and ministries.

I’m a customer of Curriculum Trak and Faithwebsites and/or Auction Trak – how’s this going to work?

DIS will continue to provide, support and develop Curriculum Trak, and your invoicing will continue to come from DIS. In the near future, your invoice for Faithwebsites and/or Auction Trak will change, but you’ll receive an update of that before it happens.

Will my rates change?

No. At this time, all current customers will maintain the same service fees. Fees for new customers, or new services, may be increasing in 2016, but your fees are going to remain the same for now. We can’t guarantee that forever, of course, but we can assure you that there is no immediate service fee increase due to this acquisition.

Thank you and more coming soon!

We are so deeply grateful for every person that’s contributed to our story so far. Our team members, our friends, our family and certainly you – our customer. Thank you for being a part of this growth, for trusting us with your business, your ministry. Because of your support, our future is filled with potential and exciting growth opportunities. We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings, and are thrilled to have each and every one of you be part of that.

We’d be remiss to not take a moment and share this video with you – a few of you have already seen this but most of you haven’t. It’s a video that shares who the team at DIS is, and that passion continues as the team moves forward now, part with RenWeb and part with Dynamic Internet Solutions.

Mike Vander Berg, Jeremy Eisenga and Lisa Gutknecht

 

New to Responsive? Let’s Understand More.

Responsive was a buzz word. Now it’s a term that’s often heard, but not always understood. One of the simplest and perhaps best descriptions I’ve read is straight from Wikipedia:

Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).”

Content-is-like-water-1980And the image above provides a visual for what responsive content is. I personally love this word picture – content is like water – but it’s still a bit hard to grasp. I mean, “water becomes the cup”? Yeah…

The point is that content must be free to flow and move – filling the vessel in which it is in at the moment. And that vessel can be just about anything these days, and I’ve no doubt that devices, screens and other technologies will continue to be invented, creating even more ways and forms web content can be viewed.

What does all this mean for you?

Responsive isn’t a temporary thing that is going away anytime soon. It is the way that content on the web needs to work. It’s gaining ground, changing and growing more mature as an established must. In short, you need to get your head around the changes you must make in order to continue producing a website – and any web content – that will be deliverable and readable for your users.

To get started, we’d recommend the 2 items below:

  1. You need to move – or make plans to soon move – to a responsive web design.
  2. Start learning and continue understanding how to best build your content so it works well on a responsive site. There are two areas we’d love to see our customers really learn and expand upon: image size & placement, and how to organize and lay content out on a page.

The good news is that Faithwebsites has multiple ways to help you achieve both of those goals above. The reality is – both require time and resources, which means this requires a commitment from you and your organization.

Is it worth it? Yes, we really believe so. Churches and Christian Schools alike are continuing to see growth and even dependency on online communications, and your website needs to be the center hub of your online presence. Your users need to know they can depend on your website to get the info they need fast and easy. A non-responsive site will soon create frustration and confusion.

If your goals include any type of marketing, outreach, evangelism, or enrollment/admissions, then moving to a responsive site and learning how to build content better for responsive behavior is essential. You’ll lose your reach (or potential reach) with simply not having content that flows to the device/screen your visitor is using.

Interested in learning more? Contact us for information, and be sure to follow us for more content-flow building tips.

The Tool Box: Expand/Collapse Tool

open books

The Expand-Collapse tool is a very simple tool, but can be useful for specific applications on your website. This tool allows you to create accordion-style text, where your users click on a “+” to read more about a specific topic. It’s ideal for text-heavy pages where your users may be looking for very specific information.

For example, for a frequently asked questions pages, you can put the questions as the initial content that shows when collapsed and the answers as the expanded content that show when your users click on the “+”.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 10.20.31 AM

 

For a Frequently Asked Questions page, this allows you to include detailed answers to your questions, without forcing your users to scroll through all of the long answers to get to the question that they’re looking for. The FAQ page is by far the most common way that this tool is used on our customers’ websites.

Like with any tool, there are also creative uses for this tool. Rock Valley Christian School shares their supply lists by grade using the Expand/Collapse tool. This allows them to put all of the grades supply lists on one page, without forcing parents to scroll through all of their lists to find their grade. You can see their example here.

Another customer who uses this tool uniquely is Victory Christian School in Tulsa. They have a directory of all parent businesses. In the collapsed section of the content, they have the types of businesses and then in the expanded content, they have the full business information and how you can contact them. This is a great use of this tool to encourage school parents to support each other’s businesses. You can see Victory Christian School’s parent directory here.

There are lots of ways that you can use the Expand-Collapse tool, but do use caution, like you should when doing any content-building on your website. You may wish to have the initial content larger to make it stand out, but we do not recommend using one of your larger headings such as Heading 1 or 2 for this purpose. In addition to making the text very large on the page, it is a poor search engine optimization practice. You can read more about how headings affect SEO in this recent blog article.

While we mentioned at the outset that it is ideal for text-heavy pages, if your end users will generally want to read all of the content on your page, then the Expand/Collapse tool may not be the best option for you. You should also be careful to limit how many sets of content you put onto one page, generally to about a dozen or fewer, excluding special exceptions like Victory Christian School’s parent directory. It is better to break your content up onto multiple pages if it is becoming difficult to find the initial question or content at a quick glance.

The Expand/Collapse tool can be a robust tool for the right applications. Use this tool for your FAQ page, or another creative use. If you need additional assistance on the details of adding this tool to your website, see our support article here or contact our Support team.

Google’s Mobile Friendliness Ranking

mobile websiteSearch Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ongoing process, but before you look to do any more work to improve your SEO, be sure you have a mobile optimized or responsive website.

Starting already last fall, Google announced that mobile friendly websites would be part of their ranking equation. Now, Google has announced that starting April 21, they’ll be expanding their use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. In a nutshell, this means that if you do not have mobile friendly pages, your rankings will be affected. Exactly to what extent – or how fast – is not something I can state. However, in a somewhat unprecedented manner, Google has made it clear that there will be significant impact and has even assigned a date for the release to its algorithms.

If you are a Faithwebsites customer and have a mobile or responsive website with us, you are sitting in a very good place! If you have an older website and added any formatting such as tables or text formatting with fonts, your content layout should still be reviewed and simply converted to the mobile optimized product and/or other formatting which is not mobile friendly removed. However, if you started with a new site in this past year, then move your focus on building fresh updated content for your site. Your site will pass the mobile-friendliness test!

If you do not currently have a mobile site, it’s time to look at getting a mobile optimized site, or better yet – to consider updating your website design to a responsive design. While SEO may not be a top priority for your organization, it is essential to all organizations to have some level of rankings. Beyond Google’s impact, you’ll be making the right choice for your users, more of whom are trying to view your website on a phone or tablet device.

If you are interested in learning more about mobile sites and/or responsive website design with Faithwebsites, email us at sales@faithwebsites.com.

Prepare Your Website for Easter

fws_freeSlides_2015-001_600x480_002In December, we shared some tips for updating your website for Christmas. It’s just as important to make sure that your website is ready for Easter. Hopefully, you will have many new visitors walk in your door and lots of excitement as your church family gathers together to celebrate the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection. Your website is an important tool to evangelize, communicate and welcome new visitors and encourage them to walk through your doors on Easter Sunday.

1. Prominently note your Good Friday / Easter service times. Particularly if you have special service times for Easter Sunday, make sure that is clear and easy to find on your website homepage. You can download one of our free images to share the excitement of Easter with your website guests– find those in our image gallery here. You can even use a photo editor like PicMonkey to put your Easter service times right on the image.

2. Make your visuals click through to more information. One of the most visual ways to communicate Good Friday and/or Easter Sunday services is through the slide show on your home page, as noted above. However, connect your slide to a webpage that contains expanded or detailed information. Slides move quickly, and people want to click / tap for more information. Update a current webpage, or build a new webpage that contains the following:

  • service times (all services times);
  • physical location (if applicable for special events, outdoor early sunrise services, etc.);
  • nursery / child care services available or not available for each service;
  • special or extra/overflow parking;
  • details such as fellowship, coffee, breakfast afterwards, etc.;
  • clearly state that all visitors are welcome – don’t assume that people reading will just “know” that

Put a link (ideally on the right side of the page) to the pages that contain your map / driving directions, your nursery / child care page, etc.

3. Share on social media as well. Post the same information with your service times on your social media feeds as well, with links back to your website. If you are using the Social Stream Database, you can even do this right from within Site Manager.

4. Promote special events. Are you having any special events for Easter Sunday, such as a fellowship lunch after the service or an egg hunt? Be sure to include those on your Easter page and social media feeds as well.

5. Don’t forget to update your regular website calendar. For those members and regular attendees that subscribe and/or have your calendar page bookmarked, be sure to update your calendar feeds with the service dates and times. Remember that you can create a calendar event that contains a webpage link – so if you created an Easter service / event webpage, add that same page URL to your calendar event. This is an easy and efficient way of getting all your visitors to the same page and information!

Easter Sunday is an opportunity to draw in many guests to your church. By utilizing your website to share the important details, you are maximizing your opportunity to encourage new visitors.

Remember to visit our image gallery to download some Easter images. Here are some of our newest additions:

fws_freeSlides_2015-001_600x480_002fws_freeSlides_2015-001_600x480_017fws_freeSlides_2015-001_600x480_015

Subscribe to our RSS Feeds

Blog Search

Join Us on Twitter

Join Us on Facebook