BY CHRIS WALLACE
Anchor Church is a church plant in McKinney, Texas, with a handful of full-time staff and a dedicated core team coming together with a mission to bring hope to the hopeless in North Texas and beyond.
As one of the creators of Faithmade, it is important to me that the tools we provide to churches and website designers are flexible, easy-to-use, and powerful, so I took it upon myself to create a new website on our platform for my church. I want to share with you my experience creating a site on Faithmade and hopefully show you what's possible right now for anyone with similar needs as mine, a brand new website with a beautiful design and all the content my church needs.
Migrating Content from WordPress to Faithmade
The first step for me was to determine what content we needed to migrate to the new website. A lot of the content on our old WordPress site was going to be obsolete once we moved out of the "church plant" phase and into the "now we're a church" phase.
We decided to simply export the posts from our old site, which was easy enough using the built-in WordPress Export tool. After downloading the XML file to my desktop, I simply used the "Import" tool in Faithmade, uploaded the file, and it automatically imported everything I needed, which was a huge time-saver.
Up Against a Deadline
We wanted to launch the website around the same time as we held our first official service on September 27th. About 3 weeks earlier, I had been gathering information and creating an information architecture, or sitemap, for what the new site would look like. Once I had this, along with content from the various pastors over different parts of the ministry, I was able to outline a rough idea of what the site structure should look like.
The deadline approached seemingly much quicker than I thought it would, and I didn't actually start building the site out until September 24th, just 3 days before we were supposed to launch. At first, I ran into a few roadblocks when I had trouble customizing the design with CSS. Some of the pages use the Menu module within Faith Builder and the rest use the standard theme menu. So that means some pages have different menu functionality, even though they are fairly similar in appearance.
Two of the pages I created, the homepage and the Anchor Kids page, utilize the "No header or footer" template, which makes it possible to construct a unique landing page without any theme elements being present like a logo, navigation menu, or footer widgets.
Creating Pages with Faith Builder
After I had spent a good deal of time writing CSS to customize the design of the site, I then focused on the content of the homepage and subsequent internal pages. In all, it took me two solid days worth of work to create every single page.
One of the primary reasons why it only took 2 days was the fact that I had access to some really great videos created by one of our tremendous volunteers, Jordan, and dropping those items into various parts of the site made it super easy. Additionally, I used Faith Builder to create a "Row Template" for page headers. Each page header is standardized and saved so that I can drag-and-drop them into every page easily.
I also was able to use some of the standard templates for different sections of the site, which allowed me to quickly change out images and text with real content.
Switching the Old Site to the New
Once I had finished the content, all I had to do was switch the A Record for the website's domain name with my hosting company to point at the Faithmade IP address and then go to the Custom Domain section of the admin panel and add our domain name there. Once that was complete, the site went live in about 10 minutes to the world!
To be honest with you all, I wasn't expecting to be able to customize our church website and enter in all the content that quickly. I actually thought to myself, "I'm never going to make this deadline with just a few days left" but thankfully, I was wrong!
Collecting Web Forms & Information
Once I had created the structure of the website and all the pages, I moved on to creating the actual web forms that users would submit to our staff when they needed to contact us for any reason. We needed a few different forms: contact, volunteer, and prayer. These forms are utilized in various places throughout the site and can be reused on any page, which is especially handy.
Next Step: Integrating with an iPhone & Android App
I've been working on an iPhone app for Anchor and one of the great things about Faithmade is that it can be used within our app as a weekly bulletin, a prayer request form, and includes a complete API that developers can use to pull information directly into any app.