DIS & FWS Blog

Posted on May 9th, 2013

Keep Learning! New User Group Trainings

by Lisa Gutknecht

A big thank you to those that joined us for our live “Welcome to Site Manager” webinars. They were such a huge success that we were encouraged to move on an idea we’ve had for a while – User Group Trainings. Your feedback and survey responses helped to form some of the first topics we’ll be presenting.

Learn keyboard key. FingerOpen to all of our administrative users and totally free, we kick off the series with our first webinar on Monday, May 20th – starting at 11:30 am Central Time. Our first topics will be training on the new File Uploads Database, image management basics and our new Copy Tool released with Site Manager 1.0.

The format of the webinars will feature approximately 15 to 20 minutes demonstrations on each topic and then offer Q&A time at the end. Questions can be asked of the panelists at any time throughout the webinar (through a Questions panel that you can type in your questions or comments to us) and our team will work to answer those questions as they come in. A microphone is not required to participate.

If time permits, our team will also answer questions regarding Site Manager that may not be related to the session’s topics.

The sessions are scheduled for 1.25 hours (75 minutes), but you are free to come and go as needed. If there are still questions in the queue our team will continue afterwards to try to get to everyone’s question.

And, in anticipation of a very common question – no, these sessions are not recorded and will not be available afterwards. Each User Group Training will be unique and fresh topics and tips presented. We encourage you to try to join us live for as many as possible.

Learn more and register on our support site. Registrations are kept open up until the start of the session.

Posted on April 25th, 2013

Make Mother’s Day special…

by Lisa Gutknecht

… 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!

mom1_400x250

mom2_400x250

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

 

Posted on March 27th, 2013

Site Manager Paves the Way for Future Change

by Lisa Gutknecht

All we’ve been talking about lately is our new admin website interface – Site Manager. If you’re a current customer of Faithwebsites, by now you know that you’ll be moved to Site Manager in the month of April, and you may have even joined us in one of our live webinar sessions.

We’re not just excited because this is a new interface and way to manage your website. We’re excited because this interface change really was about creating a platform that enables us to push out new tools, enhancements and updates in ways we never could before.

With Site Manager’s release, the new integrated blogging tool* became available. This tool features standard blog platform components – like categories and tags, and is using the new File Uploads tool so that you have easier ways to manage multiple images per post. You can also schedule posts and customize what you want to show up on the right side bar of the web page of your blog.

Speaking of File Uploads, the new tool will save you time, offers you drag and drop, easy file organization, better thumbnails, and access to your documents and images from multiple page level tools! We’re excited to hear your feedback on this tool – be sure to join a live session and watch us demo this tool in action!

And that leads me to the topic of feedback. We’ve launched our own user forum – The Neighborhood – for DIS and FWS website users. We’d love to have you join and participate. Many of you are looking for content ideas, ways to keep your site updated, tips and tricks on how to do certain tasks, and much more. We have to keep our support team focused on helping you learn the CMS, but what about the other aspects of building a site? It is our hope that our users will ask, answer, provide feedback and offer opinions on The Neighborhood forum – so that together, all our users can benefit!

We’re excited about our development plans for 2013! With special thanks to our Site Manager Early Adopter group, we’re off to a great start! Stay tuned for more updates, anniversary promos and yes – more updates and upgrades to Site Manager.

 

*The Integrated Blogging Tool is part of the Premier and Enterprise Service Plans.

Posted on March 6th, 2013

Understanding Social Media Trends – Infographic

by Lisa Gutknecht

We found this interesting and thought we would share. Is your church or organization on one or more social media streams? If you need help connecting your social media to your website, be sure to contact our support team – they’ll be happy to help!

Posted on March 4th, 2013

Recent Outages Are Related to Attacks

by Lisa Gutknecht

There’s a very unpleasant reality to managing a network – attacks. There are many different types of attacks, with many of them are aimed at one goal – taking down your website, or taking control of your site. Some of our customers ask us “why”, and we really aren’t qualified experts to answer that. One explanation is that some of these attacks can be likened to vandalism crimes. But whatever the reason or motivation, the hackers exist.

At DIS/Faithwebsites, we contract with vendors that are well-regarding in our industry, and that continually work to provide a secure hosting environment, network and security protection. In addition, our own technical staff works to monitor and continually update our applications to avoid new potential security breeches – or holes in our defenses. However, sometimes all the security, updating, and diligent monitoring doesn’t withstand an attack. And that is just what happened last week in our series of intermittent outages.

Those outages were actually a blessing. I know, you weren’t one bit happy about your website – and your admin site – being down. We weren’t either. Here’s the blessing – your websites were NOT reached in our attacks last week. Our network (and all the many pieces to it) withstood the attack and did what it should — took us down to protect us. It’s far better for our network to go down to protect your site, versus your site going down because some malicious attack took it down.

Here are a few facts we think you should know:

  • Attacks have increased globally in the latter part of 2012. You can find statistics that list the increase between triple to 2000% – suffice to say that the rate of increase on the attacks is significant
  • All types of websites and organizations are targeted
  • DIS/Faithwebsites, along with all of our network and hosting vendors are continually updating and making changes to stay on top of the newest types of attacks, but similar to email spam, or viruses that target your own home computer, the attacks change to continually work at creating a hole in the walls of defense we build
  • Our network, just like every other web provider network, gets attacks regularly and 99% of the time, those attacks have not succeeded in making any gain. Our network has, and continues to, withstand the vast majority of attempts
  • Nothing was “broken” in these attacks, rather that the network shut down to protect everything
  • None of your site’s data or content was compromised during these attacks
  • And finally, sometimes a temporary outage can be a blessing!

Last week’s outages were a specific attack from China, which is fast growing to be a leading source of attacks. We were able to isolate and block that attack quickly and many of our customers did not experience a long outage duration. We have taken additional measures to try to prevent this from happening again.

Above all, please know that DIS is committed to ensuring your site remains up and protected 100% of the time, but in the face of an attack that penetrates all defenses, we would rather make your site unavailable for a short duration (creating an outage) than have your site attacked.

If you interested in understanding more, here are a few articles regarding the growing hacking and network attacks. DIS/Faithwebsites does not claim that these articles have any direct correlation to the attacks our network experienced last week, rather that these may provide additional insight into a growing situation for all organizations:

Washington drops gloves over Chinese hacking

Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.

State of the Internet Report

 

Posted on February 20th, 2013

Introducing Site Manager 1.0

by Lisa Gutknecht

Many of you have been our customers for nearly 10 years… yes?! Did you know that we have been in business for 10 years now? And, of all the journeys, re-creating our CMS, our “baby”, has been among the most rewarding and most challenging we’ve undertaken to date.

We are so thrilled to finally introduce our updated Graphical User Interface (GUI), or what many of you know as your “admin site”. The new content management system GUI’s name is Site Manager. Site Manager 1.0, to be exact, as we have plans and projects in place to simply continue the updates and enhancements.

Let’s take a sneak peek at Site Manager. To start with, here is the new Navigation Builder Home:

navbuilderhome-xsmall

Besides a whole new look, you’ll see some practical changes. For starters, all of your menu items are in a top navigation + drop down menu system. Here’s a better look at that:

dropdown

In addition to improving where you find your tools, databases, settings, etc., we’ve also improved how you go about building and updating content. For starters, simply clicking on a page title will bring you to a Page Summary where you can add/edit content and change the page Properties – all in one location.  Take a look at the Page Summary menu below – see how the tabs include all the page elements? (Main Body, Right Side Bar, Left Side and Properties)

pagesummarymenu

We’re going to start releasing more updates and sneak peaks of Site Manager here on our blog and on our Facebook wall too, and soon you will be receiving emails regarding specific release dates and your conversion plan. Don’t worry – we have extra support methods and new videos planned to help you transition to Site Manager. But, we think you’ll find most of it very easy to use.

If you are a current Faithwebsites customer and would like to help us out by becoming an early adopter, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email at conversation@faithwebsites.com and let us know that you’d be willing to learn the system and give us some feedback too.

Posted on February 20th, 2013

Easter Graphic Freebies

by Lisa Gutknecht

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.

easter1-original

easter2_wide

easter3_wide

 

Posted on January 22nd, 2013

Enhancement Update: Updated Audio Player

by Lisa Gutknecht

After rolling out our new audio player, we discovered that we needed to tweak and improve it some more. Effective now, an updated player has been pushed out and is on your web pages. The new player is now compatible with all modern browsers, including iOS and Android.

This updated player utilizes a different method of loading the audio files on a page – if there are many files on a page, only the top 30 files will upload. If there are more, the additional files will load as the user scrolls down. We still recommend that you minimize the number of audio files on a page – as more files does require a longer page-load time for the user.

Other features and improvements include a download progress indicator, a better MP3 download link, and a smaller design profile, taking up less space (or “real estate) on the screen.

If you have questions or experience any difficulties with the updated audio player, contact Support via your Support Center link.

 

Posted on November 27th, 2012

Christmas Graphic Freebies

by Lisa Gutknecht

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.

Posted on November 26th, 2012

Enhancement Update: Audio Player (Sermons Player)

by Lisa Gutknecht

We’ve recently updated our audio tool to feature an updated player! If you used the Audio Sermons (MP3) tool on your website, your live site page(s) now display a new player – one that has an  updated look and feel, with controls that web users today expect. The largest benefit to the new player is a more consistent user-experience across all browsers, including iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, etc.).

Users can also experience faster play-back, as the new player now loads the files as the page loads. However, if you have a large number of audio files on your page, you may experience longer page load times. As a good rule of thumb,  to keep page load times reasonable, we would recommend that you consider limiting the number of audio files on a single page to no more than 52 (one year at one sermon per week.) The ideal would be to keep less files – between 12 and 24 audio files, depending on the length of the audio in each file. The remaining sermons could be moved to archive pages for previous years. To do this, simply add a new page, add a new audio sermon tool to the page, and then use the “move sermons” link at the top of the original audio sermon tool.

Downloading files is still available to your users; you may want to provide updated instructions. To download an audio file, right click on the file title or the MP3 link under the volume control. Choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As” and save the file to the destination of your choice.

If you have any questions regarding the Audio Player tool enhancement, please contact customer support.