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26 February 2006

May I Help You?

One of the cool things I get to do once and a while is answer web-related questions that come in via phone or email. The way I look at it - I ought to give back since there have been numerous others that have patiently answered my questions and taught me little tricks to make my life easier.

So I thought I'd give you a sample request and what I sent in response:

Bob wrote:

I am looking around for web site companies to use for our church and I was wondering how well Aspire!One has worked for you. Do they provide great tools? How much of your site do you do in house? Do they have a great feature that just makes them stand out?
Here is my response:


Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I've been doing MACH 10 for the past week or two but have some time this weekend to respond.

Prior to Aspire!One we were using a small wed development company that posed numerous problems to our site, our ability to maintain the site and our ability to expand our site and integrate with our backend database.

We began talks with Aspire and things went very well from day one. They had meetings with us to hear our vision and to see what our needs were. They did phone conferences and were available every time we reached a milestone in the preliminary design phase and development process.

Our site is dynamic in that it is based on a number of templates (some pre-designed by Aspire but others we have modified as needs change). Each template is populated with content or data entered through a central Admin Panel [see screen grab below]." Data are entered as stories that can be used in their totality (as a full HTML page) or in smaller chunks on other pages (in a sidebar or on the main index page for example). When a page is scheduled to be in a sidebar of an existing page, the only information sent is the thumbnail graphic and the title or subtitle. This then links back to the full story.

This concept may be difficult to understand without seeing it in action. But this is the basis for the entire site. We have some flexibility within the admin panel to edit the html and we can use Dreamweaver to develop more robust pages or templates if we need to.

The cool thing about this Admin Panel is that it allows varying "permission" levels, so someone can enter the panel and only see/edit certain things. I could go in later and schedule story that person wrote. This is huge in helping maintain consistency and standardization requirements necessary to keep the site looking professional.

Another awesome feature is the ability to schedule stories to appear on a certain date, and then leave on a certain date. This proactive approach to web maintenance is not only helpful to our team, but will probably be the standard in the near future.

Aspire has been very approachable and helpful in customizing the website and Admin Panel to our specific needs. They are great to work with and I look forward to a long relationship with them for both minor adjustments and major site overhauls in the future.

Hope this helped. Let me know if you have more questions about Aspire!One or

Taking the Message to the world via the web...


Main Page Administration Panel

Edit Story Page (Top)

Edit Story Page (Bottom)

19 February 2006

50 Feet of Pure Media Bliss

I know - I'm way behind the times. We have some prolific bloggers at the church - some manage to post on stuff that hasn't even happened yet (you know who you are). But I thought I'd post about the new screen since I probably look at it in a slightly different way than the average person.

You see, when I look at the screen, I see pixels and resolution. I asked myself how graphics would need to be designed in order to fill the entire screen and what resolution would be required, etc. Then I thought about future flash movies and how the initial design would influence their appearance on the big screen.

Oh yeah - and it also looks awesome during a service...

See Jason's post for the installation and technical specs on the new screen and the system that runs it.

16 February 2006

Can You Hear the Buzz?

I was approached a while ago about helping the church create buzz about their upcoming sex series. It would be a 5 week series held on the weekend, and would be promoted just a bit differently that other series we have had.

This was the brainstorm:

  1. Rent a few billboards around town.
  2. Throw up a picture that has nothing to do with the church (and everything to do with sex).
  3. Acquire a domain name just for this series (
  4. Develop a Flash Movie to walk people through a few introspective questions about their views and emotional responses to sex.
  5. Have the Flash movie redirect at the end to another page (on
  6. This page (with series details) would introduce people to the fact that it IS safe to talk about sex in church!

I jumped at the opportunity because I love Macromedia Flash and it was something that would test my abilities. The cool thing was the fact that there were a team of others behind me the whole way. Pictures were expertly chosen and sent my way, the copy was well written and emailed to me, the audio was custom fitted by an audio guru at the church and others edited and commented along the way to make sure we had the best possible product (thanks all!).

The project had been done for a few days, and I allowed myself to sit back and relax - only to be shocked back into reality when the billboards went live and the hits began to roll in on the site. Local news picked it up and a radio station dedicated an entire morning to the billboards by starting a discussion and allowing listeners to weigh in.

I'll admit I was a little overwhelmed - but then again, God has been doing things on a grand scale ever since He created this little planet and He wants to do even bigger things through those willing to tag along...

I can hear the buzz - can you?

See what others are saying: Becky, Corey, Jason, Kem, Tony, and More Tony

09 February 2006

Should I Be Worried? Or Just Angry?

I have always remained faithful to Macromedia products for a number of reasons. First, they were what I started using when I began my journey. Second, they have done everything I've ever asked them to do. And third, the competition really turned me off (Microsoft and Adobe products mainly). So you can imagine my shock and fear when they announced the merger between Macromedia and Adobe.

How can they do this? I asked myself. You can see from the graphic above, times are changing! They are already bundling Macromedia Studio 8 with Adobe CS2. But I can see at some point being able to purchase one combined "web developer" product - possibly the following:

  • Dreamweaver (better not mess with that...)
  • Flash (better not mess with that...)
  • Photoshop
  • Premiere (possibly for working with video?)
  • Illustrator
  • Acrobat

I envision Fireworks and Freehand going away for good. Very sad, but with the power of Photoshop, it just makes good business sense.

So we'll have to see how it all works out. But my question still begs to be answered, "Should I be worried? Or just angry?"

07 February 2006

It's Not About Me

Actually, it is. This post I mean. But only so I can give you a snapshot of my life story. And once you see that I think you'll agree that it's NOT about me - it's all about Him.

I currently work as the Program Manager of a psychiatric inpatient unit in Plymouth, Indiana. I am a therapist by trade (licensed clinical social worker) and did that for a few years before making the transition into management. Definitely a far cry from the world of the web (in fact it was like pulling teeth just to get computers in the facility).

But somewhere in my not so distant past I began getting into computers, web design and the like. Not the traditional way (taking classes toward a degree) but by simply diving in, buying the software and teaching myself the ropes. Books, the help of friends and online tutorials have been more beneficial to me than any class I could have paid an arm and a leg for...

Back in the day I put all my energy into learning new ideas. I practiced on my own website and would redesign it every few months just to try my hand at the new things I had learned. At one point I purchased Macromedia Flash 5 and redesigned the entire site as a flash movie (not such a cool thing now...)

Then the day arrived when a friend of mine said, "I think there is someone you should meet."

So I did. After one meeting with the Communications Director at the church I was attending, I began to volunteer my time doing web design, web maintenance and anything else that came up. After a few months I was hooked. Something changed inside me and there was no turning back.

My hobby suddenly took on new meaning and relevance. I now had a purpose behind my interest which opened a new realm of possibilities. I have learned more than I thought possible and have been able to add value in a variety of ways.

So that's why it's NOT about me. I'm NOT a web designer by trade. For all intents and purposes I shouldn't even be able to do this stuff! But He had a plan. He put the thought in my head and He gave me the abilities I have. Without Him guiding me I might still be coming home every night and just plopping down in front of the TV (oh wait - I still do that a lot...)

I stand in amazement at what God can do with a life. We just have to be willing.

05 February 2006

Welcome to

I worked for years in the mental health field as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Then, in 2004 I was asked to volunteer in the Communications Department at Granger Community Church. For two years I helped keep the websites running as the church readied itself to launch completely redesigned versions of their two websites.

Then in 2006 I was asked to join the team on a more permanent basis.

I currently serve in full time ministry as the Web Director at Granger Community Church. I get to work with an incredible team of dedicated professionals. We cast vision for, maintain and oversee all aspects of both and is not only one of my creative outlets, it's also where I get to process day to day goings on and advances in technology that impact progressive churches. If you have any questions about this site or the information presented here feel free to contact me (use contact button in the header menu).

I hope that this will be a safe place to discuss the following:

  • Web design/layout
  • Web technology
  • CSS
  • Programming languages (php/xml/javascript/etc.)
  • Software/hardware/plug-ins/etc.
  • Flash
  • Online audio/video
  • Podcasting/vodcasting
  • Streaming video
  • eCommerce
  • etc.

Once again, thanks for joining me on this journey.