I was recently asked to help build a website for my church in Minneota. I think that a church website is an excellent idea, and dove into the project as soon as the semester was over.
Having little information about what is needed for a project, can sometimes be difficult for the developer. He feels the need to do a good job on a project, but does not know which direction to take to meet the unsaid expectations.
So it is always good to plan then produce a prototype before diving into the real project. My planning began with a few simple ideas. I thought about the users of this website, what they would be able to use, and which tools would be possible to implement on a limited budget.
Because they probably could not spend large amounts of money on hosting, I figured I would have two options:
- Build an HTML based website that would be quick, easy, and cheap to implement, but would require knowledge of HTML to update.
- Use an open source LAMP based content management system. It would be slightly more difficult and time consuming to update, but it would be cheap and would not require the users to master HTML before modifying the pages.
I chose the second option. With the right content management system, the site could provide more than just basic information about Bethel Fellowship. It could provide tools to make the church better organized and provide a method for collaboration among members on various projects.
I looked at several content management systems (and used some experience from the past) to pick the perfect system. I looked for systems that had the modules or add-ons that I needed, and that looked like they had good templates for use. I also observed the learning curves for the average user.
I ultimately chose Xoops. To be honest, Drupal was a close second. It was a tough choice. If it had been my own site, Drupal would have been on the top of the list, but the interface in Drupal is difficult for new users to understand. So even though Xoops is less customizable, and contains less free add-ons, it met the needs of the organization (especially the easy to use environment), and I decided to go with it.
I built a prototype site on my own server, and provided a link to the people who made the decisions. We discussed through email, various changes, made updates, and then decided to move to the next step.
Next, I needed to find a hosting provider. Fortunately, I had done my homework when I setup my dad’s two sites, MikePearson.org and CriticalMove.info. I had found that 1and1.com provides reliable hosting for a really good price and therefore, was able to conclude quickly that this was still the best option.
Last night, I finally received the user name from 1and1, and began building the site. It went rather fast (since I had just built the site a few days earlier on my own server). A lot of time was simply uploading the files. Today, Bethel Fellowship’s site is up and running, and it looks pretty good. When I have some more time this week, I will be adding more to the site.
You can check out the progress at BethelFellowshipChurch.com.