Tag Archives: Slide Show

The Circle of Content & Engagement


You create and post content, you promote and communicate, and your users visit. But do they just visit once? What draws them back to visit your site again?

If you create content just once, or only now and then, it’s more of a straight line effort. You did all the work to get the content on your site and promote people to visit that content, but if you stop there, it ends all too soon. Having a website that’s productive and useful is a circle. More content must flow, but it must also be varied content that motivates users to return to your website.

Most of our customers being churches and Christian schools need to build continual engagement with their audience. A one time visit is not the purpose of the site. Continual visits, even a dependency on knowing that the website is the go-to place for information, is the goal.

Ideas for Creating Continual Engagement

Assuming you are already posting calendar schedules and promoting larger events on your website, let’s delve into some other content ideas.

  1. Create dependability and dependency. Be faithful with the content you post. Your users need to trust that your site will always be their quick go-to place for certain content. Keep that up and expand what they can depend on the site for.
  2. Work hard – and be creative – to get information on your website BEFORE you promote in print / in your building. Knowing that the website gets the “sneak peeks” or “heads-up” content will encourage many users to continually visit. Communicate this among your staff and make it a goal to figure out how you can do this effectively and consistently.
  3. Post exclusive content on your website. Not quite the same as above, this is where you have expanded or totally exclusive content that isn’t available anywhere else. Examples of this can include:
    • Pictures, or more pictures if you also post them elsewhere, of any event, everyday happening, auction items, building happenings, etc.
    • Glimpses into the before-the-scenes or behind-the-scenes of any event (such as how you are setting the stage for a special event, or how the costumes are coming, or how you are organizing for a large food drive, etc.)
    • Teachers have a wealth of opportunity. Ideas can include links to website resources that support lesson plans or homework, classroom pics that didn’t make it into the newsletter, helpful hints for homework, head’s up about testing, field trips, or other classroom happenings.
    • Churches can post expanded content on Sunday School or Children’s lessons, more about their youth events – which can range from links to lesson resources, or simply pictures of children in classes.
  4. Consider a blog for posting devotionals or thoughts.
  5. Create announcements (in addition to a calendar item) to more easily promote, remind and communicate about events and happenings.
  6. Be sure to use Social Media and your website together. Once you have content up on your site, either use Social Stream* to automatically post to your social media streams, and/or manually post.  (*Watch for a future blog on tips for using social media and your website together.)
  7. Push every type of content possible through your website first. Make your website the center “hub” allowing users to trust that no matter where or how the content is published, they can find it, or a link to it, on your site. While some users may be comfortable following your organization on YouTube or Twitter, others may not and they would miss your updates otherwise. Examples would include:
    • Embedding videos on your site, instead of just posting the YouTube link on Facebook (post the link to your website page that has the video instead).
    • Posting sermons and audio files on your website
    • Putting feeds (streams) of your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. on your website for easy access.

Hopefully the ideas above can start your own brainstorming process, but the biggest tip I would share with you is to plan a content schedule. Pushing content out requires discipline, and making this a calendar item with set deadlines is usually essential for actually getting this task done. You can always create your content as needs arise, but have a game plan – and a calendar or plan – for posting regular updates.

Faithwebsites customers can consider using these tools to help easily create and update content: image gallery, integrated blogging tool, announcements database & tools, message board, calendar, and social stream.


Understanding Aspect Ratio: Photos and Frames

Understanding aspect ratio is an essential part of understanding why some photos work better on your website than others. But, if you aren’t familiar with working with images, it can be a difficult thing to understand.  To demonstrate, let’s go back to the classic picture frame and printed photo. Our picture frame represents the slideshow that we need to fit our image into. 


The first step is to upload your photo. What if you upload your image and you find it is too small for picture frame, your slideshow or image gallery proportions? Your photo will have some blank space around the edges.

Not good, right? The best solution here is to find a different, properly sized image to use instead.

However, most of the time, when you are using a digital camera and the image hasn’t already been resized or dramatically cropped, it will be too large for your slideshow or image gallery proportions. You could just cut some off the sides.

But, you could also make the photo a bit smaller and literally “reframe it” to fit the proportions of your picture frame. If this was a physical picture, you’d have to go to the printer and have it scaled down to fit. Fortunately, in Site Manager, it’s a bit easier! You can use the cropping tool to drag the crop box out at the corners to fit your image and the system will automatically make it smaller.

What if your image is a portrait orientation instead of a landscape? Well, let’s try to put it in our picture frame!

Again, we could move the frame up or down to make it look how we’d like and then cut off the rest. We’re losing quite a bit of the image that way.

What happens if we try to shrink it down vertically to fit into our frame?

Again, a lot of blank space which is a big “no-no” for your slideshow tool.

It’s generally best to put a landscape-oriented image into a landscape-oriented slideshow or image gallery tool. However, if you do have to put a portrait-oriented photo into a landscape-oriented slideshow(or picture frame!), you need to be aware that you will be cutting a lot off on the tops and sides.

That’s how aspect ratio works. If you’re ready to dig and learn more about aspect ratio and the details of cropping your photos in Site Manager, check out  The Crop Shop: Preparing Photos for Web by Josh Feit.

Working with Images

006-smallImages are a huge part of your website. They are one of the best ways to draw your audience in, keep their visual interest and make an emotional connection. While not all churches and other organizations may have the budget to hire a photographer and designer to help them put together great images for their website and other materials, there are many ways that you can make the most of what you have.



How to obtain images:

  1. Understand that Google Images is not your free image library. There are a ton of great images available on the internet, but you must obtain your images legally. Most images that you see on Google Images are copy-righted and are not free for use. You can go to the website where the image is located and see if it lists usage information for the image. If not, contact the website administrator before using.
  2. Instead of grabbing off of Google images, use stock images. Stock images are images which are available for use, although you typically need to pay for them. Here are some sources that we recommend for finding images for your website:
    • Church Visuals has a ton of awesome free downloadable images. Take a few minutes to check out the other awesome resources on their website, too!
    • Creationswap, where we used to advertise, offers both free and for sale graphics. You can find the free ones here.
    • Stockvault and Stock.xchng are both free sources, although their images are not specifically for churches or Christian schools
    • Fotolia is another favorite of ours and one of the most inexpensive stock photo websites.
    • Lastly, check out this great list that Church Relevance has put together of images and other resources.
  3. Look for the talent. Do you have a mom at your school who always seems to be toting her camera around? Is there a guy at the church picnic who always seems to be behind the lens? Ask for their help! Most people are happy to help and this can be a great way to collect the photos that you need on a limited budget.
  4. And don’t forget to take advantage of our free image gallery! We have many images which are ready to be added to your website.  Find the image gallery here.


    One of our fantastic free images, available in our image gallery.

How to work with what you have:

  1. Crop well. Avoid chopping at the joints, leave negative space for movement or crop tight. Look for an upcoming blog post from us with more tips on cropping!

    Amelia Earhat Statue Cropping example

    On the left, I chopped off Amelia Earhart’s feet, which leaves her looking a bit awkward. On the right, her feet are still intact, which makes the statue look more complete.

  2. Straighten your horizons. This applies not just for horizons, but for any line, such as a door or wall corner which should be straight.
    Crooked morning fog landscape

    Top: Just a quick photo on a fogging morning, which is obviously a bit crooked.

    Straight image of a foggy morning

    Bottom: Now, it has been cropped and straighten just slightly, which gives it a more professional look.

  3. Use a free photo editor to edit, add text and interesting texture to the photos. This is a great way to build some graphics for your website to make an announcement or promote an event. You can take an ordinary photo– some grass, a brick wall, or even the donuts on Sunday morning, and turn it into something interesting by adding textures and text. We have a blog post on our favorite free photo editors here.

    Cup of coffee

    Here’s an picture of a cup of hot chocolate which I quickly edited and added text to in Pic Monkey.

We think this is a great time to give away 6 more free images! You’ll find them them all in our Image Gallery, in the General album.

Free Image Editors You Can Start Using Today – and why you should use them

Images are an important part of website content. I would venture to say that you should be investing about 30 to 50% of your content building time and effort into building images. But any old stock image isn’t going to cut it these days. Today, your audience is filled with image-centric, image savvy individuals and website images need to be awesome to meet those expectations.

Sound daunting? It can be. But like all content building tasks, start with baby steps and work into more. Here is our short-list of recommended “do’s & don’ts” to start with:

  1. Crop your images to fit your space – and enhance your message. When building content in Site Manager, always choose to crop your photos whenever possible. Cropping ensures a perfect fit, fast page load time and more. And don’t forget that cropping can enhance the vision, mission or emotion you’re looking to portray on that page.
  2. Add text over images – in moderation. Adding text over an image is a great visual. However, more than a couple lines of text, using a font that is hard to read or a color that is hard to read, will quickly turn that positive image to a negative user experience. Stick with easy to read fonts and keep the text short. Use the tools in Site Manager to add URLs to your images and direct your users to more content.
  3. A collage of pictures can sometimes be a better choice than a slide show.
  4. Choosing images that have a similar color as your site’s background can add a measure of professionalism to your site.
  5. “Image” does not always mean people or nature pictures. Create stunning announcement slides or landing page visuals using an image of a texture or background. But use a photographic one, or maybe a vector – and not clip art.
  6. Avoid clip art, mis-matched icons, animated GIFs.
  7. Be responsible – be sure you have permission to use (or re-use) the image file.

Now on to free online image editors. No doubt you’re already not sure how to go about accomplishing some of the above list. Some of the tasks you can handle right inside of Site Manager (like the fact that the slide show tool has built-in cropping to the precise dimensions of your slide show!), but many will require the use of an image editing application.

While many of you may have a software installed on your computer, free web based image editors offer the ability to crop, resize, add text and much more to your photos. And even if you have a computer software program (like Photoshop), you may just want to explore some of these options as fast and easy ways to be creative with images. Like every type of application – take a little time to explore each application, and have some fun working towards your objective!

  1. PicMonkey
    At the top of our lists right now because of its simplicity, drag and drop and super fun effects, PicMonkey is worth a try. Not all of the features are free, but the basic cropping, image resize, photo edits (lighting, sharpness, etc.), adding text and even frames are all free. Jump on, upload your photo and you can be done in minutes. Save your photo back out to your computer and you’re good to go. Ideal for building collages, banners (think inside webpages, Facebook pages), and especially for creating the square format that is so popular with social media currently. (Tip: build a square photo for your social media stream and add it, in a smaller size, to your right side bar on your webpage!)

    Sample screenshot of PicMonkey

    Sample screenshot of PicMonkey

  2. Pixlr/Editor
    This free online editor is more advanced and offers traditional features that would be similar to Adobe Photoshop. While it offers more advanced features, users can quickly learn how to use the Layers palette and add text and other images (think logo on top of a texture image background) to create a well designed slide. You can save the layered file (to your computer or online if you build an account) to be loaded back into Pixlr for more editing at a later date. Which is a nice advantage if you have one image that you just want to edit the date on regularly, for example.

    Sample screenshot of Pixlr/Editor

    Sample screenshot of Pixlr/Editor

  3. Splashup
    Very similar to Pixlr in that it offers layers and plenty of filters and image editing tools, Splashup may be a bit more user friendly. It’s a good mid-level option to explore – and offers easy sharing plus being able to save your images to your computer.

All of the above websites offer easy options for cropping to specific dimensions and/or aspect ratio, resizing, adding text overlays, and minor touch ups. Explore other features like applying color filters, fading out part of an image and much more! If you’d like to know more – watch our upcoming newsletters or forum for User Group Trainings that feature image tips.

Make Mother’s Day special…

… on your website too!

To help you do just that (and keep your home page updated too), we’re offering our customers FREE images. We’re continuing our free image promotions throughout this year with Mother’s Day images to use on your home page slide show. We hope that you and others are blessed by these. Drop us a comment or a note on our Forum letting us know!



Click the links below to download the size needed. Be sure to choose a size that is large enough (or larger) than your slide show dimensions and use the built-in crop tool to size the image perfectly. To download, when the image opens in a new tab/window, right click and choose Save As or Save Link As.

Striped Mother’s Day – wide 980×400
Striped Mother’s Day – medium 600×400
Striped Mother’s Day – small 400×250

Sunflower Mother’s Day – wide 980×400
Sunflower Mothers’ Day – medium 600×400
Sunflower Mother’s Day – small 400×250


Easter Graphic Freebies

We’re happy to hear from many of our customers that you are finding these free images for your website a blessing. If you would like us to continue, post a comment, or drop us an email to let us know your feedback!

In time for Easter, we are providing you with three different images for Easter, and once again we have them available in many of the standard home page slide show sizes. Remember that you can take these images into any photo editing program and add your own text/copy. If you don’t own a photo editing software program, several free web based options include PicMonkey and Pixlr, and a free desktop option would be Picasa.

To Download:

Click on the size and version(s) that you want. The image will open in a new browser window/tab. Next, right click and choose Save Image As (or Save Link As) , and save the image on your computer.

Choose the image size that is closest to the size of your slide show – being sure that the width and height are either equal to, or larger than, your slide show’s dimensions. Use the crop tool as you upload the image to get a perfect fit for your website.

The links for each of the image files are below the preview.





Christmas Graphic Freebies

You asked, and we’re doing it again! This time, we have 3 different Christmas and Holiday themed images for you to download – completely free! They are available in the most common slide show sizes; if you don’t see the exact size you need, go with the next largest width and then use the built-in crop tool to size it perfectly!

Remember that you can take these images into any photo editing program (Picasa, Pixlr, etc.) and add your own text, save it and upload that to your website.

To Download:

Click on the size and version(s) that you want. The image will open in a new browser window/tab. Next, right click and choose Save Image As (or Save Link As) , and save the image on your computer.

Choose the image size that is closest to the size of your slide show – being sure that the width and height are either equal to, or larger than, your slide show’s dimensions. Use the crop tool as you upload the image to get a perfect fit for your website.

The links for each of the image files are below the preview.

New Enhancement: Image Cropping Tool!

We are super excited to announce that a new image cropping tool has been installed in Faithwebsites CMS!

Understanding the importance that top-quality visuals and slide shows have in websites today, this built-in crop tool will help you upload any picture and make that picture fit the designated space perfectly. This results in the image looking made for the space and professional, versus stretched or squished to fit the space!

The crop tool works with the Slide Show tool in the Main Body and Right Side Bar sections of the site.  The photo dimensions are drawn from the dimensions you have setup in the Slide Show tool.

Here’s a basic step-by-step of how the crop tool works. If you use a crop tool in other applications, you’ll find this quite familiar.

  1. When you add a photo in the Slide Show tool, you’ll see a Crop or Downsize option. Be sure that the button for crop photo is selected. Add your photo as you would normally.
  2. In the next step, click anywhere on the photo to get the crop tool to appear. In our example, this is the original photo we started with.
  3. Use the corners to resize the crop tool or grab the tool frame to reposition the tool.
  4. The crop box itself will always stay in the correct aspect ratio, (horizontal x vertical) of the dimensions in your Slide Show tool. What you see inside the crop box dotted lines is the final photo product that will be displayed. This allows you to take pictures and create copy space, added visual interest, cut out unwanted parts of the photo and the list goes on!
  5. Finally, click Crop Photo & Finish. The final result of our cropping example is below. We’ve made a wider horizontal photo fit a square Slide Show nicely by cropping out part of the photo and centering the focus on the subject.

Need more help? We have a video tutorial that will take you through the Slide Show Tool setup and cropping features. Still need more help? No problem, just contact Support. We’re happy to assist.