DIS & FWS Blog

Posted on June 26th, 2014

Hit by DDoS Attacks

by Lisa Gutknecht

We are writing to update our customers about the recent slowness and outages experienced with all services – our CMS Websites, Auction Trak, Donor Trak and Curriculum Trak applications.

DIS | Faithwebsites has been the victim of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS), or Denial of Service Attack. DDoS attacks are when a criminal targets a server or group of servers or network, and then works to overload the server so that it literally grinds to a halt. It is inoperative and sites and applications go down with it.

Starting last Friday (June 20), we experienced what was at first some minor server issues. Our technical teams did some maintenance work and services were quickly restored. That pattern repeated itself through the weekend, with the problem getting far worse on Sunday. On Monday, we began a full out defense against the DDoS attack and we are still fending off what may actually be more than one DoS or DDoS attacker. Each day we thought we had managed to successfully fend off the criminals, only to find out a matter of hours later that they were back with renewed attacks. It is what the engineers refer to as an “intelligent” DoS attack – so the bots and other means the criminals are using is outsmarting the typical steps to remove the attack.

This is why many of you experienced slowness of service and intermittent outages. At times, all sites and applications were running, but slow because the server was getting overwhelmed but still working. At other times, the server gave out and it would take the team time to bring it back up again. Other times, our firewall and other securities were forcing a complete shut-down to physically block the attackers from any more access. Sadly, the attackers are waiting for us, watching for us to come back online and waste no seconds in resuming.

At the time of my writing (Thursday, 11:00 am CT), we have several teams of experts full-out fighting to regain full control and block our DoS attackers. These teams consist not just of our own DIS team, but also of our cloud hosting provider and other third-party resources we’ve reached out to for additional help in fending the attackers.

What you do need to know is that your content – websites, database content, curriculum data, donor data and auction data – all of it – is safe. This is not a hacking type of attack where they work to gain access to your content. And even if that was – the great thing is that our firewall and other securities are in place and working well. And remember, all your data is backed up nightly and that data is moved to a totally different physical storage space, another added security for your data.

We know that this is not the service you expect from DIS and we profoundly apologize. We have securities in place, but as these criminals become more sophisticated in their attack and attack methods, those securities are breached. Ancestry.com, evernote.com, and feedly.com were all under DDoS attacks just in the past week to two weeks. Reports show that DDoS attacks have rapidly increased starting in May 2014 in the U.S.

Below is a screenshot of the top DDoS attacks on June 20th – and you can see the concentration on the U.S. You can view this map live and current at Digital Attack Map.

June 20, 2014, DDoS Map

June 20, 2014, DDoS Map

You may find these links below of interest or informative:

We are still battling the DDoS attack. We will post on our Support Center announcement forum updates as we progress. We value your business, and most of all we value all the words of encouragement and support many of you have extended our way. Each of us here at the DIS team have been working long days (and little sleep!) and your words of prayers and encouragement have richly blessed us. We are honored to serve you and your ministries. May God bless you!

 

Posted on March 13th, 2014

Working with Images

by Molly Parker

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.

    fws_freeSlides_2014-001_600x480_weather

    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.
fws_freeSlides_2014-001_400x250_connectfws_freeSlides_2014-001_400x250_joinUsfws_freeSlides_2014-001_400x250_grow

Posted on February 6th, 2014

SEO Talks: Alt Text, behind the scene for images

by Bekah Van Maanen

Images have become incredibly important for attracting web traffic and improving the experience that people have on a site.  Site Manager even offers a variety of tools to help you create this visual content.  However, there is one little attribute associated with images that often gets overlooked.  This overlooked attribute is called the alt text or alternative text in Site Manager, although you may also see it called alt tag or alt attribute elsewhere. It can be associated with any image placed within a page.

The alt text’s primary function is to provide a short description associated with an image.  This text would only appear on the page if the image was unable to load.  A slow internet connection, a broken image link, a screen reader for the visual impaired are a couple of examples for when an image might not load and the alt text would replace it.  The HTML for an image with an alt text looks something like the following:

<img src=”conference-presenters.jpg” alt=”Strengthening Christian Schools Conference 2013 presenters”>

image with broken link

The src attribute tells the browser where to look for the image, and the “alt” attribute tells the browser what text is associated with that image.  If the example HTML image tag was placed on a page where the link would be broken, the browser would substitute the image with the text from the alt attribute as seen in the image on the left.

However,  the image alt text plays another role in website building. The alt text is used by search engines to know more about the content of the page and index images for search results.  As a result, the alt text is part of good on-page SEO.  While not as important as the other on-page SEO elements, the alt text using a relevant description helps to optimize images and may boost the image up in search results.

When creating the text for the alt attribute, it’s important to follow the following guidelines:

  • Keep it short – less than 25 words
  • Describe the picture using keywords from the content
  • Keep the most relevant text at the beginning of the alt text
  • Do not just list random keywords
  • Do not repeat the same alt text with different images
  • Do not use alt text for images that are intended to be part of the design and aren’t directly related to the content

If you try using alt text to increase your SEO and want to see if they meet Google’s standards, enter your page URL at http://www.feedthebot.com/tools/alt/.  (Note: remember that images that are part of the site’s design should not have alt text)

Site Manager has several ways for associating images with alt text.  Tools that have a graphic upload option for the image will have have separate field for the Alt Text or tools using File Uploads to place images in the content will have the Alternative Text field in the image options pane.

File Uploads Alt Text FieldContent Editor Alt Text Field

While not all churches or schools are not interested in Search Engine Optimization, filling the alt text field for images will help with the user experience for people using slow connections or screen readers.  We highly recommend taking the time to even place a few descriptive words in the alt text field.

If you’d like to learn more and keep some basic SEO practices updated on your site, be sure to join our monthly user group webinars – free to all our customers! Hope to see you then.

 

 

Posted on January 23rd, 2014

The Tool Box: An Introduction & Featuring Prayer Request Tool

by Lisa Gutknecht

Once you’ve built a site, or updated your design, the weekly grind of maintaining the site begins. Websites must be kept fresh – updated – continually. Each organization can define exactly what “continually” means, but for all, bi-weekly is a minimum, and most organizations should create ways to post new content to their website weekly.

Updating your website can be more efficient and less of a chore if you are using the right tool for the job. Our CMS offers a lot more than just a text editor, and there’s a reason for that. DIS designed our Faithwebsites CMS product specifically for churches and Christian schools, and those tools are intended to make the content work for you easier.

laptop_toolboxWe’re going to start a series about our website content management system (CMS) tools, and which ones might be the right tools for your job.  For example, the blog tool can be used for more than just a blog. And while you can do anything in the content editor if you know how to code HTML, perhaps the expand/collapse tool will be a better fit.

Equally important as ease of you building the content is the ease of your users reading the content. Your content needs to be laid out in an inviting and engaging way. Too long of content can be a negative for users; no images may result in a lack of interest; no links leave the user unsure of what to do next… you get the idea. That’s where understanding how to use the tools effectively and in combination with each other comes to play. With a little more how-to power, you’ll be able to create pages users love to read!

Let’s start with a straight forward tool for today’s post — Prayer Request.

The Prayer Request tool is available as a main body tool, and was originally built to assist churches in building on online community, but along the way our Christian school and nonprofit customers told us they love this tool too!

website prayer request toolChoose a page to add your prayer request tool, and in your tool properties you can customize how you want the tool to work.  Take time to carefully set the properties up. By spending some extra time when setting the tool up, you can make this tool do some work for you and help you effectively handle prayer requests! Add in one or more email addresses that should be notified of the prayer requests, and customize the auto-response that users receive after submitting a request. Consider adding a URL in your auto-response to direct users to a support page, contact page, small group page, etc. Or give them contact information to speak with a person in their time of need. By providing this URL, they will automatically have access to some resources without you needing to attend to the request right away.

When users create a request, they are given the choice to request it posted to the web page or not. You are still able to override that choice, controlling what requests show up on your website – or none at all.

Adding a Prayer Request tool on your website could be a valuable way to connect with your members and visitors, build an online community and outreach for your organization. If you would like more information about the Prayer Request tool, just email support.

Posted on January 14th, 2014

Introducing Social Stream Database. CMS + Social Media

by Lisa Gutknecht

The team at DIS is thrilled to be releasing our newest module (tool set) – Social Stream Database. And the first release of this tool is available now!*

Social Stream Database toolWhat is it?

Social Stream Database is a module within Site Manager (your CMS website admin interface), where you can connect your social media with your website. Right now, the module released is for Facebook only, but we are developing for Twitter, and expect the Twitter release to be pushed out in a few months. After Twitter, we will continue to add other popular social media streams.

Social Stream is fully integrated within Site Manager. With just a couple clicks, you’ll be able to add unlimited Facebook Pages accounts. Once added, Social Stream allows you to both pull social content into your website from your social media AND push out from your website to your social media. Yes! You read that correctly — Social Stream Database is two-way – connecting website with social stream both directions.

What can I do with it?

We’re sure that you’ll find even more ways to use Social Stream Database, but for starters, you can:

  • Connect your Blog tool to Facebook so that active posts get automatically posted on your Facebook wall
  • Directly post on your Facebook wall from within Site Manager
  • Build a Content/Resource tool on your website that is connected to Facebook, so that all new items are posted automatically to your wall
  • Add your Facebook posts to any page – using either a Main Body or Right Side tool. Any inside page, wherever you need it, no widget or special programming required

How will it help me?

  1.  Simplicity and Time Saved
  2. Drive traffic to your website, increase retention to both social media and website
  3. Add team members to the social stream posting without becoming Facebook admins

#1. We know that many of you struggle with not having enough time to get all the tasks done. We’ve talked with many of you and heard that adding social media to your plate is just one too many tasks in a week. You’re not even able to update your website like you want to.

Social Stream Database may offer you solutions. You can add a social media account to your existing blog on your website then it automatically pushes a post out to your wall. Every time you post a blog topic live, you have a new social media post. Done. That easy. The same can apply to the Content/Resource list tool. There’s also the direct post right in Site Manager’s admin – so while you’re updating your website, you can put the same update in a Facebook post, submit it in Site Manager and it’s done. You never have to leave Site Manager to get both tasks done!

#2. Social Media is required to have a successful web presence, and for most of our customers, to successfully drive new visitors, build connections, and more. It’s essential, yet it does not replace a website. Websites and Social Media each have a role, and now more than ever they must be combined to reach your audience. Connecting the two sources, and connecting them continually, is a must. The Social Stream Database allows you to simply apply a page level tool to any and all desired pages, adding your feeds to a page. It’s easier than building a widget (and it will look better!), and it’s free – no special programming or design required!

#3. In listening to our customers, we heard something else. Sometimes you have a website admin who probably could – or should – be updating your social media. But whether due to the fact that they don’t personally use Facebook or are intimidated by it, or even that you don’t want to add Facebook admin users with all that control, it just doesn’t happen.

Social Stream Database can solve that easily. Any Site Manager admin user can be given permissions to the tool and then can post to social media from within the site interface! It’s already a familiar interface, and no need to train or add any other users to your social media sources.

How can you start?

*If you have Premier or Enterprise Service plan, Social Stream Database is already available to you! Just turn on the permissions for your account under People. Then head to Tool Databases and start by adding your Facebook Page account. We’re working on creating help articles in the Help Center soon; if you have questions don’t hesitate to email support.

Interested in upgrading to the Premier service plan? You’ll receive the Media Library, Blog, Registration Tool, Social Stream and more. Just email us and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Posted on December 19th, 2013

SEO Talks: Title, a big word for a lot of roles

by Lisa Gutknecht

For those who missed our November User Group , here’s a recap of the Search Engine Optimization portion addressing the Title Tag.

The title tag is referred to by many terms: title tag, head title, title bar, title bar override and title elements are among the most common. In Site Manager, you can find the field to build and edit your title tags in Page Properties; it’s called Title Bar Override.

Most experts state that the Title Tag is the second most important on-page SEO element, which is a very significant position! Ranking just under content for importance, it appears in three key places: browsers, Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and external websites.

As we’ve been discussing throughout our webinars this year, if you focus on building your website with the user, and the user experience in mind, you’ll also be doing many of the basics of good on-page SEO work. That includes the Title Tag.

Looking at just the role the Title Tag has with SERPs, the content in your title doesn’t just help drive search engines, but also is what the user reads. Therefore a well created title tag is not only relevant to the page content, but is also written in a way that will interest the users and encourage them to click the link.

Building a title tag that is both optimized and engaging begins with the format. The optimal format for many of our customers may be:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Church or School Organization Name

But, if your organization is well known in your community – and certainly some churches and schools are simply recognized by name, then you may want to reverse the order, like this:

Org Name | Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword/Phrase

Updating or even building your title tags is one of the easiest ways you could increase your rankings. Or, if your rankings are already good, it can increase the number of visitors to your site. In Site Manager, page titles are a per page field, making this job a bit overwhelming for websites with many pages. We suggest breaking the project up into batches based on priority. Your home page is the most important, followed by all your key landing pages. It should not take long to do those pages. Next, do an assessment of the pages that the most relevant for searches. For example, if you are a church, that page may be the service schedule & directions, and if you are a school, it may be pages about your admissions process.

With that game plan in hand, let’s go through a few best practices.

  1. Keep your title under 65 characters. Less is more.
  2. The title tag is weighted left to right. That means that the most important words/phrases should be at the beginning.
  3. The title content MUST be relevant to the content on the page. If you have the word athletics in your title, the page must be about athletics.
  4. User experience matters. Write to be read. Consider readability and emotional impact or connection in your title. You are creating a title tag for SEO, yes, but what the search engines want is a good user experience. Write for your audience first and search engines second.
  5. Evaluate. After you have changed the title tags, put a reminder in your calendar to review your analytics occasionally and evaluate the results. Tweak a few key pages at a time and continue to evaluate regularly.

Even if your church or school isn’t particularly interested in Search Engine Optimization, you should be interested in User Experience. Titles help users understand what to expect on a page, they help guide users on where to click, and in certain browsers, they help identify your site on the screen. We recommend taking time to craft solid title tags for all of our customers.

If you’d like to learn more and keep some basic SEO practices updated on your site, be sure to join our monthly user group webinars – free to all our customers! Hope to see you then.

 

Posted on November 24th, 2013

Creating a Flickr Photo Stream

by Molly Parker

Flickr can be a great resource for storing and sharing your photos, as well as building a photo stream. Flickr offers 1TB of space with each free account and allows you to upload photos up to 200MB, which is extremely large. Flickr also allows you, and anyone you choose, to download the photos in full resolution. This makes it easy to share photos within your organization. Like any other social media and photo sharing website, not all content on Flickr may be appropriate for all viewers.

Flickr is a social media platform, but like other social media streams, you’ll want to considering bringing your stream into your website – engaging your website visitors and connecting all your streams in one place.

Like Instagram, it is easy to share your Flickr photos on your website. One way to share Flickr photos is to create a “badge”, which is a widget that you can embed on your website. The badge contains an automatically updated stream of your public photos. First, you need to have some photos marked as public. Then, to create a badge with Flickr, go here.

Flickr offers a lot of customization with their badges. We recommend creating an HTML badge, as it functions universally  on more devices. Then, you can choose which photos you want to share. As mentioned above, only photos which are marked public can be shared in a badge. Flickr makes it easy to organize your photos into a variety of sets or using a variety of tags. In your badge, you can choose to share all of your photos or you can share photos in only a specific set or with a specific tag. Using sets or tags is a great option if you want to share photos related to a specific topic or from a specific event.

You can also choose how exactly you want your badge to look. If you are placing this on the right side bar of your page, we recommend using the square or thumbnail sizes and orienting the badge vertically. You can also customize the badge to match the colors of your website, which we highly recommend, to give your badge a professional look.

Once you have fully customized the badge, you can embed it on your website using the Widget Embed tool in Site Manager. Copy all of the code from Flickr and then paste in a new Widget Embed tool on either the main body or right side bar of your site. In general, with the size of the badge photos, a photo stream will look best on your right side bar.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 5.52.44 PM
Here is an example of a Flickr badge, customized with a black background.

Posted on November 19th, 2013

Blessings

by Lisa Gutknecht

We’ve had an incredible journey this year, and with just a few weeks left of 2013, we wanted to share some of that “incredibleness” with you. Perhaps this is a post that would be more applicable at the beginning of the year but with Thanksgiving and thoughts of blessings in our hearts (and all over social media posts!), we wanted to share this now.

Late last year we started redeveloping the interface for one of our core products – our CMS Websites, and in the spring we moved our Faith Websites customers to the new interface (Site Manager). Through that experience, we were able to really connect, or re-connect with many of you, and we loved that opportunity! Hundreds of you attended webinars and provided us with feedback, reviews, encouragement, and plenty of ideas on how we can better serve you.

The Site Manager rollout process birthed a new idea (thanks to many of you!) – live webinar trainings, which we simply dubbed “User Groups”. Through the monthly user groups, we’ve been able to do advanced training, explore creative solutions for your website and content management, train the latest and best practices and answer your questions. And at this point in the journey, we began to realize that instead of just being the “techs and geeks” behind the scenes of your products, we were able to really come along side and help you. Helping ministries and missions has always been our mission here at DIS, but we now knew we had to start living up to that mission in more ways than just web based tools and applications. We needed to connect with you.

Some say that God has a sense of humor. Perhaps so. All we know is that in the month of June, we experienced a technical crisis unlike anything in our 10 year history. You see, we’re a group of believers gifted with vision, programming and application development, but we depend on some vendors for back-end services. Those vendors were unable to avoid a technical disaster and we got caught in the crushing results. It literally brought us to our knees, which is precisely where God wanted us. And through this crisis, many blessings flowed. You, our customers, responded with an absolute outpouring of understanding, support and even prayer – at a time when you had every human right to be upset. We were so richly blessed by your responses and we will not soon forget it. The blessings continued, for God used this event to shape a much more bonded and unified team, all the more led to better serve you.

The setback behind us, new and exciting things were ahead. The changes continued with the release of a brand new, fully integrated video on demand module – our Media Library. Being able to upload raw videos, encode them for web and then build them into your website was a goal we had for the past couple of years, but we wanted it fully integrated. No need to use YouTube, paid 3rd party services – no ads, no limits, just being able to manage your media in one central place. We knew that this was a powerful resource for churches to build sermon libraries and for schools to build curriculum and student resources.

We’ve also been able to release a steady stream of updates and improvement to Auction Trak and our Content Management System, and we’re thrilled with those, as were many of you! And, we’ve got plans for much more to come.

Each of these major milestones has served to sharpen our focus — that we are here to serve you and those building the Kingdom of God. That we are here to not just build an easy system for you to use (although that is an essential part), but also to come along side and help you achieve your goals. We put this very thought into action with our next big milestone: our first Strengthening Christian Schools conference. Hosting this conference gave us the opportunity to really get to know some of our customers, understand your challenges, and engage in conversation.  Best of all, we got to share our passions for sharing the Gospel, training up the next generation of Christian leaders and serving our Lord.

Returning home and back to our normal routines, we’ve realized how blessed and thankful we are. Blessed to help each of you in your kingdom work. Blessed to have fellow believers as customers. Blessed to be working in a job we love, using the talents we were given.

From our entire team  – a heartfelt thank you for being the most awesome customers.
May God continue to bless you and your service to him.blog_team_pic

 

 

Posted on November 14th, 2013

Instagram for your Website

by Molly Parker

Starting an Instagram stream for your church, school or other organization is a great way to share photos and engage your users. Instagram is very easy to use, but it can only be used on a mobile device, such as smartphones or certain tablets.  Instagram can also easily be connected with your other social media such as Facebook and Twitter to share your photos there.

Because Instagram is exclusive to mobile devices, you cannot post to your Instagram feed from a computer.  To begin with Instagram, you will need to download the Instagram app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store on your mobile device. You will then need to create an Instagram account. Once you have some photos added to your feed, you can consider sharing it to your website with a third party widget.

Many third party vendors offer widgets to display Instagram photos on your website. These widgets are easy to use and can be added to your website very easily using Site Manager’s Widget Embed tool in the main body or on the right side bar. Just make sure to copy the full code and paste it into the Widget Embed tool. There are many different widget options and of course, each has their individual pros and cons. Here are 4 of the most popular options.

First, let’s talk about Snap Widget and Intagme. Snap Widget and Intagme only offer widgets that you can add to your website; they do not offer additional functionality with Instagram, such as viewing photos from people you follow or tracking your statistics. However, both are very easy to use and quick to get started with, and can easily be added to a your DIS or FWS website.

Snap Widget can be used with either an Instagram username or a hashtag. A hashtag is an easy option to allow your staff or families to share their photos as well. However, be aware that anyone can use a hashtag, so if others may share photos inappropriately with the hashtag. With Snap Widget, you have several different layout options with your widget; you can create a grid display, a photo board, a scrolling display, a slideshow, or a photo map. Snap Widget offers the most customization of any of the Instagram viewing widgets reviewed here. The Basic version of Snap Widget is free; however, you may see ads on your Snap Widget page, customized for your audience with Google’s DART cookie. You can pay for the use of Snap Widget if you would like to remove all ads and access additional features and customization.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 11.36.20 AM Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 11.38.54 AM

On the left is  an example of Snap Widget’s board display option. This would look best on the main body of a page. On the right is an example of Snap Widget’s grid option, set to create a grid of 3×1 photos. This would work well on a right side bar. Clicking these photo thumbnails would take your users to a Snap Widget page with all of the detail about these images; this is where your user may see ads.

Intagme is very similar to Snap Widget. Intagme offers fewer display options, but it is also completely free and does not currently use ads on their website. You can share by username or hashtag, but you only have the display options of grid or slideshow.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 1.39.41 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-12 at 1.44.45 PM

On the left is the Intagme grid on a right side bar, with 2×3 photos, set to 100px thumbnail size. On the right is a screenshot of the Intag me slideshow option, set to 200px thumbnails, which will fit on the right side bar of most of our designs. You may need to experiment with the thumbnail size to find one that will work for you. Like Snap Widget, clicking on the photo will take your users to an Intagme page with a large copy of the photo and all of the photo details. However Intagme has a unique advantage because they are the only option that does not currently use ads on their website.

Now, let’s talk about Webstagram and Statigram. Webstagram and Statigram offer more integration and functionality with Instagram. Unlike Snap Widget and Intagme, you need to login with your Instagram account to use these sites.

Webstagram offers a lot of integration with Instagram and is also completely free. You can create a “Follow Me Button” which allows your website visitors to follow you easily. You can also use Webstagram to view photos of people that you follow on Instagram and manage your Instagram account, like you would from your phone. And, of course, you can also add an “Instagram Gallery” to your website. Webstagram only offers a grid display, but the gallery properties are otherwise comparable to the other options.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.01.24 PMScreen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.04.07 PM
At the left, you can see Webstagram’s grid option. Clicking on the photo will open a new browser tab of Webstagram’s page with that photo and the details. At the right is Webstagram’s custom “Follow Me” button. Like each of the other options, clicking on the photo will take you to a Webstagram page with all of the details on the photo and Webstagram does have ads on their website.

Lastly, Statigram is another popular option. Like Webstagram, Statigram offers the most functionality of any of these options, but it does not offer the same customization for the widget as Snap Widget does. Statigram offers easily understood statistics about your instagram feed, such as how engaged your viewers are and how frequently your photos are being shared. Statigram also offers a follow button and a gallery widget.

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At the left, you can see how Statigram’s grid display looks. It is set for 2×2 photos, and 200px wide. In the middle, you can see Statigram’s slideshow option. It is also set to 200px wide. Both options do show Statigram’s logo at the bottom. Lastly, at the right, you can see the Follow button that you can create with Statigram. Like all of the other options, clicking on the photo will take you to a Statigram page with all of the details on the photo and Statigram does have ads on their website.

While Instagram does not offer a gallery widget themselves, they do also offer a badge to follow your Instagram feed. You can grab the code for this by going to the Instagram website and logging to your account. Once logged in, click on your username at the upper right and choose “Badges”. Here you can select the Badge you want and grab the code to share that Badge on your website. Clicking on the badge will take your users to your Instagram page with all of your photos available to see.

As you can see, you have many options for sharing your Instagram feed on your website. In review, Intagme is the only option which is both free and does not have advertisements on their site. Snap Widget offers the most layout options for your Instagram feed, with unique displays such as a map or a scrolling display. Webstagram and Statigram both offer more integration with Instagram if you want to browse Instagram on your computer. Statigram stands out in particular with its statistics. For those who just want to link up to their Instagram feed, without displaying photos on their website, Instagram’s own badge is a straight-forward option.

Posted on October 28th, 2013

Enhancement: Scheduling Status for Faculty Tools

by Molly Parker

Faculty tools now have the ability to schedule status changes! Many of our Christian School customers have requested this, and we’re happy to deliver.

Scheduling a status change is a great way to manage date or event-specific content on your website. It allows you to have the status of a tool change on a specific date. On a tool level, the change can either be from active to inactive or inactive to active. You can also schedule status change on for an entire page or for individual items in a Resource/Content List.

Here are some ways that you can use this great feature:

  • Build event or holiday content in individual tools on the same page. Then schedule the tools inactive after an event or holiday is over.
  • Add two weeks of homework at a time in to two separate tools. Have one turn off on the weekend and the other turn on.
  • Add a new tool to a page and set it to inactive (be sure to save!). Build your content in that inactive tool — inactive tools do not show up on live pages. Schedule your content to active at the date of your choice.

To schedule a status change for a tool:

  1. Click the schedule status change button below the tool.
    Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 11.19.05 AM
  2. Then, select if you would like to change the status to active or inactive, enter the date of the change and if you wish, you can enter an email address to be notified when the status changes.Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 11.19.15 AM
  3. Click “Close”.
  4. Click the “Save” button below the tool.

Remember that all pages in the main website and the faculty website module have active/inactive and scheduling tools. To schedule the status change for a page, go in to the page “Properties” Tab and click the “Schedule Status Change” button at the bottom of the “Page Navigation” page.

Please note that when a page is inactive, it is still accessible for anyone with a direct URL and depending on your settings, these pages may be indexed by search engines. If you want a page to be unreachable, even for someone with a direct URL, make the page “not accessible”. Inactive tools are not accessible for your users.

For more information on the Faculty Database (Module), or Site Manager’s Scheduling tools, contact Support.