If you're still using the Stake and Ward Websites on Classic.LDS.org (pictured below), be advised that Stake and Ward Websites will be retired at the end of 2012, possibly earlier. You will need to use the new tools on LDS.org beginning in 2013.
Stake and Ward Websites will be discontinued at the end of 2012.
For many of you, this is welcome information, because closing the door on Stake and Ward Websites means one less point of confusion for members. Members will no longer wonder whether the ward uses the Classic website or the new tools on LDS.org.
Beyond just avoiding confusion, though, the complete transition to the new LDS.org tools opens up better technology for members in your wards and stakes. The tools now available on LDS.org far outperform the previous Stake and Ward Websites solution on Classic.lds.org (which was built more than a decade ago).
The new LDS.org tools offer more personalized experiences for members, provide publishing solutions for all organization and groups in your ward or stake, and offer functionality that is more robust and scalable to meet the demands of a growing, global church.
Major Differences Between Stake and Ward Websites and the New LDS.org Tools
Several months ago, we published a post titled From Local Unit Websites to a Suite of Tools. This post explained the gradual shift from an all-in-one website to a suite of tools.
The new tools on LDS.org aren't compiled into one single website, as with Stake and Ward Websites, but instead are independent tools. They function more like Microsoft Office's suite of tools, with independent, separate applications that are more specialized and functional than any all-in-one solution.
LDS Account Authentication
You can access all of these new LDS.org tools from the Sign In/Tools menu on LDS.org.
The new tools on LDS.org are available on the Sign In/Tools menu.
In addition to replacements for Stake and Ward Websites, the Sign In/Tools menu also contains links to Notes and Journal, Patriarchal Blessings, and your LDS Account settings. Leaders in bishoprics and stake presidencies will also see links to Clerk Resources and Leader Resources, but since these tools were not intended to replace Stake and Ward Websites but rather were developed as additional tools, they will be addressed in other articles.
Except for maps, each tool requires you to sign in with your LDS Account. Your LDS Account provides a single-sign-on experience for all Church websites, which means you just need one user name and password for all Church websites, rather than separate logins for each site.
Note that access to many of the tools requires your LDS Account to be associated with your Membership Record Number (MRN). This allows the sites to deliver personalized information for your specific ward and stake.
What New Functionality Do the LDS.org Tools Provide?
The new tools on LDS.org provide a wealth of new functionality. Here are a few highlights of functionality that is available in the new LDS.org tools that was not available in Stake and Ward Websites on Classic.LDS.org.
View Calendar Highlights
- Rather than one calendar for all activities, you can create multiple calendars for each organization and need in your ward and stake.
- Members can personalize their calendars by selecting only those calendars they want to view.
- You can create private calendars and limit the viewership to a select group of members (based on names or callings).
- You can give anyone in the ward or stake the ability to manage and publish events for a specific calendar, removing the burden of having one individual coordinate all calendar events.
- You can schedule locations and rooms with events, so that two competing groups don't show up at the same room at the same time for their activity.
- You can restrict which wards can schedule specific rooms or locations at certain times (such as the cultural hall during the week). These rules can help coordinate scheduling among wards automatically.
View Directory Highlights
- You can browse member information in a much more modern interface, with faster loading time and easier navigation.
- Each member can control the visibility of his or her profile, setting whether the entire stake can see the household profile, just the ward, or just the leadership.
- Members can update their own e-mail and phone number in their profile; these updates sync with MLS.
- Members can upload photos for their profiles, for both their entire household and for each individual household member. They can even upload photos directly from the LDS Tools app on the iPhone, and these photos will sync with their directory profile. Administrators can upload photos on behalf of members as needed.
- Members can print a PDF friendly view of the directory information, a leadership directory, and a photo directory.
View Lesson Schedules Highlights
- You can create lesson schedules for every class in your ward, not just Sunday School classes. Even Primary classes can post their lesson schedule online. This allows everyone to better prepare for their classes.
- When you create a lesson schedule, as long as it's a standard class, you can link directly to the lesson material online. With one click, members can view and read the lesson material online.
- Members can customize the list of classes they want to see by selecting or clearing check boxes according to the classes their household members attend.
- You can input events into your lesson schedule so that teachers can plan their lessons around events ahead of time.
- You can assign an individual teacher for each lesson, or one teacher for the overall class. This assignment can help your class know who's teaching what lesson each Sunday.
View Newsletter Highlights
- Rather than sending long e-mails to your entire ward, you can publish a newsletter online, with a platform that is similar to a light version of a blog.
- You can assign articles to various categories. Members who are interested only in specific categories can filter out the news they don't want to see.
- You can create as many categories as you want. Each organization has a category by default, but you can add more categories as needed, such as Scouts, Missionary, and more.
- You can upload attachments (Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and their Open Office equivalents) and insert pictures with your articles. There aren't any file size limitations for images, but attachments have a 5MB limit.
View Maps Highlights
- You can view the locations of all ward member on a map. This can facilitate home and visiting teaching routes as well as help you know where members are located. You can also get driving directions to each location.
- You can select the type of Church facilities you want to see, from meetinghouses to temples to Family History Centers, Visitors Centers, Bishops' Storehouses, and more.
- You can use one field for a variety of searches, inputting an address, city, unit name, temple name, or other search text to run your query. The search intelligently processes the information and shows you what you want to see.
- If you're traveling, you can see what Church facilities are nearby your location. The map will gather information from your IP address to determine your location and show all Church facilities nearby.
As you can see, these new tools on LDS.org are robust and full of enhancements designed to give you a more personalized experience for local unit information. The tools provide greater options to accommodate all groups at Church and their needs.
The newsletter, calendar, and lesson schedules tools are particularly scalable. You can have dozens of newsletter categories, calendars, and lesson schedules for each group at church.
Migrating to the New Tools
To transition from Stake and Ward Websites on Classic.LDS.org to the new LDS.org tools, there aren't many steps to take, except with the calendar. The following list shows details for migrating to each new tool.
Calendar migration: If you have events already entered on the Stake and Ward Websites calendar, you can import the events on the new calendar. More detail about setting up the new calendar appears below.
Directory migration: Membership and household information automatically migrates. However, if you had photos uploaded in the Classic directory, these photos do not migrate to the new directory (due to differences in image sizes). Both members and directory administrators can upload the photos in the new directory.
Newsletter migration: Any previous news articles from the News & Events section of Stake and Ward Websites do not migrate to the LDS.org newsletter tool. You will need to copy and paste any previous information to the new newsletter tool.
Lesson Schedules migration: Any previous lesson schedules entered in the Lesson section of Stake and Ward Websites do not migrate. You will need to re-enter lessons into the new lesson schedules tool.
Maps migration: Maps was never part of Stake and Ward Websites, but maps now partly fulfills the ward/stake homepage view in Stake and Ward Websites. Maps also provides the ward/stake search that was available in Stake and Ward Websites. When you search for a ward or stake in the new maps tool, you can see the location, time, and building the ward meets in. You can also see leadership information to contact the local unit leader. You don't need to migrate any information into the new maps tool.
Migrating to the Calendar
The calendar is the only tool requiring some setup and effort with the transition. The steps for transitioning to the new calendar are listed in the calendar's help material. See Initial Setup in the Calendar help for details.
In general, follow these steps to set up the calendar:
- Set up locations based on the places members can meet for events.
- Designate building schedulers for each location.
- Define reservations for unit scheduling.
- Create all the calendars you need.
- Import events from the Classic calendar or from a third-party calendar.
- Associate locations with each of your events.
- Train your organization leaders.
Leadership Plays a Key Role in Software Adoption
Although the Church has made these tools available for wards and stakes, if local leaders don't use the tools, the likelihood that members adopt the tools decreases. Specifically with the calendar, newsletter, and lesson schedules tools, administrators in wards and stakes need to set up information and designate members with the right roles in order for wards to begin using the tools.
Let Us Know Your Wish List
Although many of the new tools provide features far beyond the basic Stake and Ward Websites functionality, these new tools are still being actively developed. Many are in early versions and are constantly improving with each new release. Please be patient as these new tools develop.
If there are special features you miss in Stake and Ward Websites that aren't available in the new tools, let us know by commenting below this article or by submitting your feedback in the LDSTech Forum. For each tool, project leaders often have a backlog of issues to address, features to code, and a product roadmap to complete. If the feature isn't currently available, it most likely will be in the near future. You can help guide development teams by submitting feedback.
Abundant help materials are available in each of these applications. Look for the help button (usually in the upper-right corner) in each application. Here are direct links to each help file:
If you run into specific issues or have questions, the best place to get help is the LDSTech Forum. The LDSTech Forum is an interactive forum with frequent participation from volunteers and employees throughout the world. To access the forums, go to https://tech.lds.org/forum. Within the forum, see the LDS.org Website section for links to discussions about each of the LDS.org tools.