As you may have noticed, things look pretty different around here!
Our site upgrade has been months in the making, and we’re thrilled to finally unveil it. We may have some technical bugs to squash in the first few days (so your patience is appreciated) but here’s a rundown on some of the key new features:
- New Design - We hope you find the site to be easier to use, with less clutter and a more modern feel.
- More Consistent Interface - Now there’s no design differences 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 can easily filter posts - by topic, type, and author - so you can get straight to what you need. You’ll see those filters on the right side of every section page.
- 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. Now 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. Look for the ‘thumbs up’ icon to vote on both posts and comments, so the best contributions 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. If you’re interested in serving, stay tuned in the coming weeks for more about how you can volunteer.
- New Technology - The Network is all built in Drupal, a leading open-source (i.e. community-powered) tool. As part of this change, we’ve upgraded to the latest 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 our old site on a phone or tablet was, well, really painful. So this 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 this new site, we emphasize our community. You’ll find people’s pictures next to everything they post. And you can 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!
This was a team effort, and a variety of people were involved at different stages to help with site building, coding, design, and testing. A big shout-out to Bob Christenson, Sam Oltz, Ian Labardee, John Hwang, Dean Heetderks, Jonathan Wilson, and Kim Chimienti. Thanks for using your gifts to help build this place where church members can connect about ministry.
Over the past four years, The Network has become one of the CRC’s most popular sites. We hope this major upgrade will help even more people swap ideas, ask questions, learn from, and encourage each other as we do ministry in our local churches. Each of us has experience and knowledge to share...if we can pool that and learn from each other, just think of the Kingdom impact.
Three requests as we launch this new site:
- Please be patient if you experience some technical glitches in the first few days.
- Please sign up for our weekly email right now, so that in the coming weeks you can stay connected with what’s being posted across the ministry areas.
- Please spread the word about The Network in your church. The more people that participate, the more knowledge and experience we can share.
I can't say whether this format is better than the old one. It will take awhile to figure that out, since no matter the deficiencies of a system, we find ways to work around it if we are used to it, while a new system or format still holds many mysteries until we get used to it. It would be a shame if this is not better than the previous format. I miss the top ten, and listing of new posts and comments. Also, are we missing the ability to italicize or bold certain parts of the comments or posts?
Thanks, John. Latest posts are found on the home page and each section page. Latest comments are found on each section page (see 'Comments' link above the listing). We may look at adding more of those types of listings when the launch has settled down. Regarding comment formatting, we have scaled that back in an effort to keep things looking as clean and uncluttered as possible (too much formatting can get distracting). But we'll see how it goes, and may consider adding some very simple formatting back.
I was also wondering if there is a way to see recent comments? (like in the previous Top 10 tab)
Yes, at least on a per-section basis. When on one of the main sections, look for the 'comments' link at the top of the list.
I find that in the new setup I tend to stay in my "silo", whether that be church order, pastors, or whatever. The older top ten setup encouraged me to investigate what areas across the board were generating discussion and interest. Now those discussions are hidden, unless one goes through each catagory individually. Have you found a drop or an increase in posting has happened since the new rollout?
Comment activity has been steady. But that's a second vote for a site-wide comment feed, so we'll see what we can do about that. Shouldn't be too hard. Thanks for the feedback, and stay tuned...
We've put in a place a new, site-wide comment stream. You can find it at network.crcna.org/comments (and there's a link in the bottom right corner of the 'Browse Topics' box on the home page). Enjoy! And thanks again for your feedback to improve the site for everyone.
Thanks, it works great!
Has the web cam on Synod disappeared? I thought it was such a good idea. If that was not not part of the improvement I am disappointed.
Harry, The webcast on Synod is live right now on the main CRCNA website at http://www.crcna.org/synod/webcast
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