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Previously I looked at how to add simple maps to your church website, but for a wordpress site this was complicated, because of the artificiall nature of the directory structure if the site is using re-written URLs. Basically a plugin was required.

Now Google has provided another mechanism for including maps that can be inserted simply by embedding them in pages. All that is needed is to copy some HTML code and paste into your church’s webpage.

You need to login to your account on Google and click on ‘Maps’, then ‘My Maps’ to get started. When you are happy with the map, you can click the ‘emded this in a webpage link’ on the right hand side. If your map is of a church in the UK, then I recommend signing into Google from Google UK, as I had problems otherwise.

You can add other features easily to the map, such as other important points nearby to the church. For example, car parks and travel facilities (trains, buses etc.). This become clickable, and can contain other helpful information.

You can see it in action on my church’s website.

A WordPress plugin has been released to bring bible verses in blog posts to life, by linking them to eBible.com and also showing the verse as a ‘tooltip’ via the title tag.

There is a demo blog which shows the plugin in action.

Like other plugins, you drop it into the wordpress plugin folder, but before it works you need to complete the options screen. Most importantly is the eBible.com API key that you need. You can get a free one here.

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I have finally got round to embedding a google map of the location of the church on our church website. This is a much better solution than just scanning a map from a roadatlas and uploading it (which breaks copyright law) or linking visitors to external sites, which may mean you lose those visitors.

I used the wordpress plugin called GeoPress. It is simple to set up once you have signed into Google and obtained an API key (Google Maps API registration). (Note: enter your blog url as the GoogleMaps URL).

Then you can add maps to any posts or pages, but most importantly for church website, to the map and directions page.


Related: Easy Google maps embeded on your church website, without the need to use a WordPress plugin.

The WordPress.com state package is now available for all wordpress blogs as a plugin. And the stats that are collected are displayed in the same place as the WordPress.com blog(s) that you have. You can get the plugin from WordPress.org

WordPress.com statistics are certainly not as sophisticated as some packages (such as Google Analytics), but they are easy and quick to understand. Also, it will not interfere with other statistics packages, such as Mint, Google Analytics, and Statcounter.

And for people like me with a church website on WordPress.org and another blog (this blog) on WordPress.com, it is very convenient to have the statistics in the same place.

A guest post on Church Marketing Sucks briefly discusses using RSS or other feeds to provide information to church members. For instance different types of news and announcements. If your church runs their church website on wordpress then this makes it easy to do as each category has its own feed, so that as long as you post different types of news to different categories subscribers can follow them independently.

For instance on this website we have the category ‘church humour’, which is located here:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/tag/christian-humour/

And the RSS feed is located here;

churchblogger.wordpress.com/tag/christian-humour/feed/

It is found simply by adding /feed/ to the end of the URL. Fancy an atom feed? Just append /feed/atom/ to the end. If you do this to a post rather that to a category post list (as above) you will have the RSS feed (or atom feed) for the comments to that post. (And by default these comment feeds come prefixed with ‘Comments on:’, in the feed title so that in a feed reader it is clear it is a comment feed. For example:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/fitting-in-at-church/

Becomes:

churchblogger.wordpress.com/2007/02/11/fitting-in-at-church/feed/

But there is a problem, and it is to do with privacy. The CMS post suggests prayer requests, but many of these with be of a confidential nature. They cannot just be posted on a public website for all to see. Even if you do not tell ‘outsiders’ what the feed URL is, you cannot keep it private for ever, as your church members will use bloglines or another feed reader to subscribe or google will find it.

One solution is to use the wordpress password-protected post feature, setting a password. These posts appear in the feed, but without the content. Church members can then go to the website and type in an agreed password.

The only thing to consider is that it makes the church look uninviting and closed to outsiders if when they visit the church website to see many password protected posts. The best option here would be to stop entries in this category appearing on the front page loop.

Feeds are very powerful and with wordpress as your content management system for the church website, management of them is made easy.

If you have you church website on a WordPress installation, then you will have selected a theme which gives a consistent look across the pages of the site. From the WordPress codex;

WordPress themes are files and styles that work together to create a presentation or look for a WordPress site. Each Theme may be different, offering many choices for users to take advantage of in order to instantly change their website look.

You will have chosen a ready made theme, perhaps even one designed specially for a church. But even with customisable options, you may find that the theme does not exactly meet your church’s needs. And also, that your church website looks suspiciously like other WordPress sites. So what are the options?

  • Edit current theme: You could edit the current theme the website has. So rather than abandon what is in place, modify the files and styles to meet the church’s needs. This has the advantage of being the quickest and simplest technique.
  • Design a new theme: another option is to design a new theme from scratch. The wordpress codex has a large amount of information on ‘theme development‘. (This is beyond the scope of this article). But there are plenty of tutorials around, but bear in mind that older tutorials may not be up-to-date with changes to wordpress. (Nathan Rice recommends this tutorial.
  • Sandbox: a final option is to use the sandbox. This is the definitive theme, which is so semantically well marked up that any desired layout can be achieved by using CSS alone. This means it is ideal for new themers, because it has many examples of skins already and has been thoroughly checked out by experienced wordpress users. All that is needed is to create a CSS file.

One reason why the sandbox is an attractive proposition is because it already incorporates features that will be most likely become standard wordpress practice, such as hAtom and is widgets friendly. Many ‘new’ themes are just rehashes of previously broken themes and still are not incorporate widget features. By using Sandbox, you avoid the need to concern yourself with code changes in wordpress as people upgrade their blogs. You just update the core sandbox theme.

But, whatever method you choose, be sure to test it out thoroughly before committing it. Perhaps by testing it on a number of browsers. There will be a follow up post on CSS and style testing.

Not many things are worse for visitors to your church’s website than to find the pages loading slowly. You don’t want them to give up after all!

Arne Brachhold has posted some specific ways to speed up your (church’s) wordpress site. Even if your church does not run wordpress on their site, there are some tried and tested ways you can do to optimise the performance of any website.

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