Encouraging Members to Use Unit Websites

Share discussions around the Classic Local Unit Website (LUWS).
MaryScott0928-p40
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Encouraging Members to Use Unit Websites

Postby MaryScott0928-p40 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:48 pm

First of all, while I love technology for a multitude of reasons, I am not educated in this field. Our family lives in Michigan. I use the computer primarily for family history purposes in various ways. My husband is an automobile designer and uses CAD (computer-aided design) software in a major automobile company.

When the Unit Websites were introduced, I thought they would be a great way to help the wards and stakes.

When I was serving as a stake family history consultant, I found it very frustrating because some websites were really organized and useful. On the other hand, some wards didn't update their websites more than once or twice a year.

The listing for the callings was never up to date. I needed listing of the people who typed up the bulletins as well as the family history consultants serving in the ward.

In addition, I wanted to use the News Items to post hints, suggestions, and news about family history. It seemed a good way to make contact with other members.

Unfortunately I gave up on all my ideas because few members registered to use the Unit Websites in our wards and stake. Email addresses changed and weren't updated.

I just don't think the leaders and ward members realized how the website could help them. (Our stake did away with our stake directory and said that the website was to take its place. It seems that the website didn't really "take off" and so we struggle without either item.)

Here are some ideas to help people recognize the importance of the website. Couldn't the Church have a sample website to view on the sign-in page for the website? This sample website could illustrate ways that the Unit Website could be used to help leaders and members on the local level. After all, a picture is worth a 1000 words!

There needs to be a way to illustrate how the website can assist the leaders in their callings; how it can help ward members, families, and the ward family.

For instance, there might be a short telephone list printout with surnames and telephone numbers for the ward. That way families could print out the list a few times a year and save the clerks time and effort.

Examples of pages could show a "Ideal ward" (NOT a real ward) and how the website can help the leaders and members. The leadership directory, email addresses (including updates), missionaries serving from the ward, missionaries serving in the ward, using photographs next to the names of members, calendaring items in helpful ways. Showing important links in a sidebar would also be nice -- http://www.mormon.org, http://www.FamilySearch.org, Church universities, etc.

There could be a spotlight section so that new families could be introduced (including a photo) and places where the bishopric or other leaders post uplifting messages or notes of congratulations to ward members.

The website administrators should use more photographs to make the website interesting.

These are some of my ideas regarding the Unit Websites.

Mary Scott

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:03 pm

I also have had many difficulties in getting wards to really into the site. For any site I believe we need a few things.
1. Weekly (Daily would be better) Applicable Content, you need to get people into the habit of daily checking the site (think how many times a day an average teen checks Facebook or MySpace)
2. Ability to easily sync with your tools (At least for me I really find something useful when I can bring everything into one place)
3. Simple Propaganda, people just need to be excited about it and to pass it along by word of mouth.
4. And for ward websites you need a good clerk and a good webmaster. If they keep it updated then the people will use it, if not then it is just wasted space.
- David

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Postby jp78 » Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:27 pm

As a website coordinator for my ward, I feel your pain. We have only had 30 members register for the web site. The current bishop and first counselor are *not* among them (although the bishop's wife is :-). I've mentioned the website numerous times to various people, advised them how to sign up, etc. I've even written up a brief blurb about it for inclusion in our ward newsletter (a monthly publication that my wife edits and is distributed to the ward members by the deacons when they collect the fast offerings). I've been trying to figure out ways to encourage people to get onto the site, and perhaps some of the ideas above would help (being able to give some examples of what people can do using the web site, for example).

One additional feature I'd like to see is some type of upload area or general content area where we could, e.g., post a copy of the monthly newsletter, weekly bulletin, etc. The existing News and Information sections don't seem like quite the right place to put this information, and wouldn't allow uploading of binary data anyway (such as a PDF file that would preserve the formatting).

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:56 pm

Your mentioning of file upload reminded me back to the days of ward websites that were hosted all over the place. Traffic was a little better on our site because you could get the newsletter from the site and next Sunday's ward bulliten, printable ward list in our custom ward list format, activity reports and pictures. That brought more people into checking up on the site.
- David

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:36 am

MaryScott0928 wrote:Examples of pages could show a "Ideal ward" (NOT a real ward) and how the website can help the leaders and members.


Just a quick note to the developers - MLS has a built-in "training" ward complete with an "Ideal ward" and "Ideal Stake". There's a big start on your data, ready-made.

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Postby russellhltn » Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:39 am

jlp wrote:The existing News and Information sections don't seem like quite the right place to put this information, and wouldn't allow uploading of binary data anyway (such as a PDF file that would preserve the formatting).


I've uploaded PDFs there before. The available size is a bit limited, but it's there. I don't think it was available originally, but they do keep adding features (that they don't bother telling us about).

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thedqs
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Postby thedqs » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:05 am

RussellHltn wrote:I've uploaded PDFs there before. The available size is a bit limited, but it's there.


Do you know the size limit, and also can we use other doc types or just PDF?

RussellHltn wrote:I don't think it was available originally, but they do keep adding features (that they don't bother telling us about).


I think that this is one of the purposes of this site, to keep at least the tech community informed.
- David

kims-p40
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Postby kims-p40 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:40 am

jlp wrote:As a website coordinator for my ward, I feel your pain. We have only had 30 members register for the web site. The current bishop and first counselor are *not* among them (although the bishop's wife is :-). I've mentioned the website numerous times to various people, advised them how to sign up, etc. I've even written up a brief blurb about it for inclusion in our ward newsletter (a monthly publication that my wife edits and is distributed to the ward members by the deacons when they collect the fast offerings). I've been trying to figure out ways to encourage people to get onto the site, and perhaps some of the ideas above would help (being able to give some examples of what people can do using the web site, for example).

One additional feature I'd like to see is some type of upload area or general content area where we could, e.g., post a copy of the monthly newsletter, weekly bulletin, etc. The existing News and Information sections don't seem like quite the right place to put this information, and wouldn't allow uploading of binary data anyway (such as a PDF file that would preserve the formatting).

I am also a ward website administrator, newly called. One of the problems I've run into (so far) is that people have forgotten passwords or user names, and no one here knows how to restore them. I get referred to someone at the stake level, who refers me to someone in SLC, who says I should have that info myself. Help! Who is supposed to keep that info for the ward? Any suggestions?

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Postby tedarchdeacon » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:29 am

jlp wrote:As a website coordinator for my ward, I feel your pain. We have only had 30 members register for the web site.


I would suggest giving each of your ward members a copy of their Individual Ordinance Summary so they can have their membership record number and Confirmation date in hand. I'll bet the Bishopric would give you two minutes in Priesthood Opening Exercises to explain why you going to be handing them out. If you really wanted to go the extra mile, ask the Relief Society if you can take two minutes of their time at the beginning of their lesson and do the same with them!

Perhaps also a very brief explanation on how they'll register. It really is very simple! (yeah, I know, I can't even get my wife to register!) :0)

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PDFs are allowed on News and Information

Postby stuartmoffatt » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:46 pm

One additional feature I'd like to see is some type of upload area or general content area where we could, e.g., post a copy of the monthly newsletter, weekly bulletin, etc. The existing News and Information sections don't seem like quite the right place to put this information, and wouldn't allow uploading of binary data anyway (such as a PDF file that would preserve the formatting).


I am a ward website administrator as well and I can upload PDFs of our weekly bulletin into News and Information. The problem for me is load time on the page (it loads all current news and I have set my PDF uploads to not expire). I'd like to see pagination or content bucket function.

Stuart


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