Ward Use of LUWS

Share discussions around the Classic Local Unit Website (LUWS).
chriswoodut-p40
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Ward Use of LUWS

Postby chriswoodut-p40 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 11:49 am

I often see excited, new ward-website administrators asking for tips on how to get people to use the LUWS. The reality is that the LUWS are not very usable in its current state, which is the state it has been in for about 7 years. Please, turn back now! Save your effort, ask for another calling, move on... there is nothing to see here.

The limitations of the current system are so great, that trying to get more than 5-8% of the ward using the site is going to leave you crying in the corner. If you hit 10% you will be translated.

Our new bishopric wants to use the LUWS and our ward has spent a massive amount of time pushing to get it used, but we run into limitations at every turn.

The latest has pushed me to the point of recommending other wards avoid the LUWS until a new version is available at some unknown, vague, yet-to-be-determined point in the future.

When having a problem with broadcast emails, some of the emails went to the wrong people. When talking to SLC about the problem, our admin reported that the support person "chuckled and said that that function had never really worked properly." The support person said the new website may be available in the Fall of 2010.

(I know, I say vague point in the future and then I list Fall 2010. The Church's group working on the jobs.lds.org site were one year behind schedule to get it into beta, so "Fall 2010" is definitely a vague date.)

SLC's approach to the LUWS seems to be leaving it as is. Save yourself the effort, wait until the new site, at some unknown point in the future, in a galaxy far far away, is up and running before spending your precious sanity on trying to use the LUWS.

Chris

(My post is a little sarcastic and a little facetious, I know. I'm concerned that the dev group doesn't understand the frustration level of those using wanting, longing, hungering to use the site. I've worked in IT, I know how easy it is to lose visibility of the actual pain being suffered, even endured, by the users of a project, while IT waits until it hits their to-do list to work on it.)

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:15 pm

While there are a number of issues, there are wards and stakes successfully using LUWS. My stake has ended paper calendars some time ago. It's now in LUWS. Unless the units add needed content to the News and Information area (not easy to do given the limitations), I'm not sure as LUWS is all that compelling to the rank-and-file membership. But with calendering, addresses, and leadership listings, it can be a useful reference for the unit leaders.

chriswoodut wrote:When having a problem with broadcast emails, some of the emails went to the wrong people.


What exactly is going wrong? I'm aware of two issues. First, the individual members select what categories they subscribe to and only they can change it. That may explain why a single mother might get a broadcast intended for High Priests, while the High Priest Leader didn't get it.

The second issue is that there seem to be (or at least had been - it may have been fixed) a bug when members were moved that the LUWS didn't update right away. So emails may have been sent to former ward members.

What is the exact issue you are experiencing?
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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WelchTC
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Postby WelchTC » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:14 pm

It is not the IT group that makes decisions at the church as to what projects to work on. It is other departments. The IT group serves as a service department for all other departments when they have IT needs. It is well understood and well known that there are significant challenges to the existing local unit websites. The course has been to work on the new version of the product instead of focusing on the old. However the new version is mired down in a much bigger vision than just local unit websites per say. Therefore it is taking longer to release it. However it is coming along nicely. Anyone who wants to see the direction can visit http://tech.lds.org/calendar and http://tech.lds.org/directory to see the progress we are making. Both of these projects have teams internally working full time to release them but also are open for community involvement.

Tom
chriswoodut wrote:I often see excited, new ward-website administrators asking for tips on how to get people to use the LUWS. The reality is that the LUWS are not very usable in its current state, which is the state it has been in for about 7 years. Please, turn back now! Save your effort, ask for another calling, move on... there is nothing to see here.

The limitations of the current system are so great, that trying to get more than 5-8% of the ward using the site is going to leave you crying in the corner. If you hit 10% you will be translated.

Our new bishopric wants to use the LUWS and our ward has spent a massive amount of time pushing to get it used, but we run into limitations at every turn.

The latest has pushed me to the point of recommending other wards avoid the LUWS until a new version is available at some unknown, vague, yet-to-be-determined point in the future.

When having a problem with broadcast emails, some of the emails went to the wrong people. When talking to SLC about the problem, our admin reported that the support person "chuckled and said that that function had never really worked properly." The support person said the new website may be available in the Fall of 2010.

(I know, I say vague point in the future and then I list Fall 2010. The Church's group working on the jobs.lds.org site were one year behind schedule to get it into beta, so "Fall 2010" is definitely a vague date.)

SLC's approach to the LUWS seems to be leaving it as is. Save yourself the effort, wait until the new site, at some unknown point in the future, in a galaxy far far away, is up and running before spending your precious sanity on trying to use the LUWS.

Chris

(My post is a little sarcastic and a little facetious, I know. I'm concerned that the dev group doesn't understand the frustration level of those using wanting, longing, hungering to use the site. I've worked in IT, I know how easy it is to lose visibility of the actual pain being suffered, even endured, by the users of a project, while IT waits until it hits their to-do list to work on it.)

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:12 pm

chriswoodut wrote:The limitations of the current system are so great, that trying to get more than 5-8% of the ward using the site is going to leave you crying in the corner. If you hit 10% you will be translated.


I'm sorry you're having frustrations with the LUWS system. It's certainly not everything I hope for myself. But there are actually many wards using the system with greater than 10% participation -- and the website administrators are still around, so apparently translation is not automatic when you exceed that participation threshold.;)

Each stake president can choose whether or not to have his stake participate in the LUWS program. I would note that for the stakes that participate, the units in that stake can implement features at a variety of levels, all of which are optional beyond the home page. So feel free to use the features that work for you, and ignore the others. Some website administrators choose not to send broadcast e-mails, others choose not to use resource scheduling, etc.

jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:26 pm

chriswoodut wrote:The limitations of the current system are so great, that trying to get more than 5-8% of the ward using the site is going to leave you crying in the corner. If you hit 10% you will be translated.
Our stake must have been translated since there is over 35% participation. Three wards exceed 60% of the active adult membership.

chriswoodut wrote:SLC's approach to the LUWS seems to be leaving it as is.
If you check the wiki you will see that the LUWS is definitely not going to be left as is. It does take time to role out a system that will work in multuple languages as well as multiple platforms ... .

chriswoodut wrote:Save yourself the effort, wait until the new site, at some unknown point in the future, in a galaxy far far away, is up and running before spending your precious sanity on trying to use the LUWS.
Our stake and the eight units in it have been effectively been using it for more than the five years I have been in it. Granted there are limitations and features we would like to see but then posting paper to a bulletin board had its problems also.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

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Postby nutterb » Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:54 am

My ward has been using the calendar, the news and information, and the directory features with great ease for almost a year now. In the coming year, we'll be using the resource calendar with another ward as our primary tool for coordinating building use. It was a rocky transition, and we are still fighting some battles (namely a Google Group that refuses to die). The primary frustration has been the e-mail broadcast.

But perhaps you've heard that MLS is going to start populating e-mail addresses out of LDS Account. This has great potential for a stop-gap until the LUWS 2.0 is fully released and functional. With this new addition, it won't be difficult to generate e-mail lists for the auxiliaries that they can use in their own e-mail programs without having to go through the LUWS. What's more, this circumvents the drawback of all e-mails being sent from the website administrator.

Having experienced all of the frustrations that you cite for the limitations of LUWS, this new feature of MLS will, as far as I am concerned, complete a set of tools that allows you to effectively use MLS and LUWS to complete the goals of LUWS while staying well within the bounds of policy.


I will admit, there are some complications and drawbacks to what I have proposed here, but that's probably a topic for a new thread (which I'll likely start soon). The point is, however, with a little creativity and not much effort, it really isn't all that difficult to use the LUWS at all.

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Postby kisaac » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:34 pm

nutterb wrote:My ward has been using the calendar, the news and information, and the directory features with great ease for almost a year now. In the coming year, we'll be using the resource calendar with another ward as our primary tool for coordinating building use. It was a rocky transition, and we are still fighting some battles....


I also realize the frustrations of Local Unit Websites (LUWS) cited in the original post, but like the quote above, we dropped the frustrating things and use those that work for us.

Everything is now available for the average ward member on our LUWS, except current emails, which we stopped worrying about updating long ago, so we never use the emails or broadcast email function. While we encourage website use by always saying "you can get that on the website," the percentage of those who actually go there is not as important as all are benefiting from it.

Our calendar on LUWS is "THE" ward calendar...there is no paper calendar. That feature alone is worth participation in LUWS, for our ward. I've got my own list of tweaks I'd like, and work-arounds for problems, but regardless, it helps.

I love the lesson schedules with the links to the Sunday lessons. I know which lesson to study. I see more and more members opting to bring a computer printout of the lesson to class, all marked up, leaving the book at home. The SS pres. found he could copy and past the schedule, with dates and lesson topics into a spreadsheet, and add a column for an assigned instructor...that saved hours from the old way of typing all the dates and topics in for Sunday school and Priesthood.

Getting a substitute? don't drop that manual off at their house and never get it back! send them to the website to pull off the correct lesson for the date needed, and they can click the link to read or print it off LDS.org, or print the lesson yourself and drop it off. No more searching LDS.org for the right lesson. Forth Sunday lesson topic? put it on the calendar!

Need a valid phone number or address for a ward member while at work or away on business? LUWS directory is as current as your MLS is, (excepting emails & callings) but all ward members can access LUWS directory info from any computer, while the MLS computer is locked up at the ward.

Document distribution is now a breeze. The second counselor just told me how nice it was when he was unable to find the new 2010 ward meeting schedule in his loose-leaf to just pull off another copy via pdf we placed in the "news and resources" section.

Any of the above features make LUWS important to us. Emails and sign-ups, not so important. Maybe they will work better later. We, as leadership, are using our website to minimize event conflicts, schedule resources, distribute info, contact ward members, etc. Thus, the whole ward is benefiting from LUWS even though only a small percentage of the whole ward is accessing it! And for the percentage that do use it, it's becoming more valuable all the time.

Every time we say, "it's on the website," somebody says "I think I'll try it."

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Postby russellhltn » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:58 pm

kisaac wrote:we dropped the frustrating things and use those that work for us.


That's the key to it, right there.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Postby zaneclark » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:13 pm

kisaac wrote:I also realize the frustrations of Local Unit Websites (LUWS) cited in the original post, but like the quote above, we dropped the frustrating things and use those that work for us.

Document distribution is now a breeze. The second counselor just told me how nice it was when he was unable to find the new 2010 ward meeting schedule in his loose-leaf to just pull off another copy via pdf we placed in the "news and resources" section.


Every time we say, "it's on the website," somebody says "I think I'll try it."


I agree with everything you said and I have a question: is the meeting schedule you refer to above the schedule of PEC, Councils, etc.? I have added the times for those meetings under the "meeting times" feature on the home page.... Just a thought, and thank you for your post. I found several "selling" points I can use in my monthly meeting with the ward council.

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Postby aebrown » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:18 pm

zaneclark wrote: is the meeting schedule you refer to above the schedule of PEC, Councils, etc.? I have added the times for those meetings under the "meeting times" feature on the home page.


One thing to be aware of is that the meeting times on the home page are visible to the world. Some of those viewing the home page may be visitors, and may not even be members. So you might want to think twice about putting arcane terms such as PEC on that public place -- people may already have a hard enough time understanding what "Sacrament start time" is.


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