In the next few weeks, we’ll be launching a major upgrade to the Network site (to coincide with our 4th anniversary). After keeping it under wraps, I’m really excited to finally be able to tell you about it
When we launched The Network 4 years ago, we envisioned a site where church members and ministry leaders could swap ideas, ask each other questions, and compare notes about the ‘nuts and bolts’ of doing various church ministries. It quickly became one of the CRCNA’s most popular sites, both in terms of overall traffic and user participation.
Now, with this major upgrade, we hope to get even more people connecting about ministry.
Here are some of the key features of the upgrade:
- New Design - Check out a mockup image. We hope users will find the site to be easier to use, with less clutter and a more modern feel.
- More Consistent Interface - On the new site, there’s no more distinction between ‘guided networks’ and ‘discussion networks’. They all use the same interface and have the same features, whether they have a guide blogging or they are entirely powered by the community.
- Better Navigation - In addition to search, now you’ll be able to more easily filter posts - by topic, type, and author - so you can get straight to what you need.
- More Resource-Sharing - We want to make it easy for churches to share resources with each other. So now, instead of just the Guides being able to post resources, we’ve expanded those posting permissions to the entire community. We want The Network to be a place where both ministry ideas and practical tools are freely exchanged.
- More Ministry Bloggers - We started with Guides, and last fall introduced Special Contributors. But we know there are even more people who have good things to say, and ministry experience to offer. In the new site, anyone - including you! - can post a blog in one of our ministry sections. If it’s really good, we’ll even feed it to the home page, our weekly enewsletter, the CRCNA home page, and more.
- Voting - With more blogs, resources, and ideas being shared it becomes more important to use a community-powered way to filter the best from the rest. On the new site you’ll vote on both posts and comments, so the best posts can rise to the top.
- Topic ‘Librarians’ - In addition to guides, we hope to recruit other volunteers to serve as ‘librarian’ for a given section. They’ll help moderate posts, and organize everything into categories and subcategories. This keeps things neat and tidy for everyone’s benefit and is just another way the Network community can help each other.
- New Technology - The Network is all built in Drupal, a leading open-source (i.e. community-powered) tool. As part of this change, we’re upgrading to the next version of Drupal to ensure our technology stays current.
- Mobile and Tablets - The world has changed since we launched the site four years ago and, nowadays, many people access websites from their phone or tablet. Using the current site on a phone or tablet is, well, really painful. So the new Network site - like the crcna.org site we launched last year - is ‘responsive’ in that it will adapt to the size of your screen, ensuring a solid user experience on whatever device you happen to be using.
- More Relational - The Network is all about people connecting with others about ministry. So throughout the new site, we emphasize our community. You’ll find people’s pictures next to everything they post. And you’ll be able to become a ‘member’ of the ministry topics you’re most interested in. The CRC is really big and the more we all get to know each other - even across distance and time zones - the more we’ll be able to help and encourage each other as we serve. That’s what The Network is all about!
If you want to be the first to know when the site is launched, be sure you’re signed up for the weekly Network email (it just takes a second to subscribe).
And in the meantime, get ready to spread the word in your church.
What are your ideas for getting more people in your church connecting about ministry on The Network? How could you spread the word in your own church? Share your ideas in the comments.