Would it be useful to have user groups for your church or school website? Might you want to require login for certain content and photos? How about a solid document download system for those forms people have to fill out? Well, Luthernet can do it for you, or we can suggest a way to get it done yourself. Just ask if you want to be led in the right direction. If it's a bit much to handle, then send an email or call us.
Let's take a look at one example of user groups, hidden content, and document downloads in action. Outcome-based Youth Ministry (outcomebasedym.com) is a website we built for Gary, who has some wonderful ideas on how to help churches reach the youth. Actually, a lot of what Gary and Laurie do can be seen in the videos they've created for their programs. However, they also have a lot of material that they want to share only with the churches that join the website. That's perfectly legitimate, since, as a writer and designer, I know that the creative endeavors are labor-intensive.
Gary wanted a website that could allow user groups for all the denominations that might want access to his content. He already had a website for one denomination, but this website would be all his own, and should be able to handle all new denominations. In your own church and school, this might be more used as a system that allows editing or viewing by certain people of certain pages. While it can get complicated, and it's more for high-end, often-updated websites, it's something we can do at Luthernet. In fact, databases are technically unlimited in the number of rows, meaning you could have 10, 100, or 100,000 user groups. We started with the administrator group (me and Gary) and the ELCA group. We will add LCMS, WELS, and other groups, as well as other Christian denominations in the future. All told, it takes me about an hour to create what I need to create, and I promised the first three as part of the website purchase. Now, if you go Outcome-based Youth Ministry's website, you won't actually see the ELCA menu items, and that's because the goal of user groups is often to hide content.
Gary wanted a website that could be very specific to each denomination, since he designs his resources accordingly. Haven't you often wished the company that makes materials for your ministries made that material specifically for your church? Once logged into the proper user group, users will ONLY see content and downloads for their group. The right website links and the right materials. That's a great way to make the content relevant. You can also do this on your website. In fact, people can be registered in more than one user group, meaning a parent who is also a teacher can see both types of content, while a parent who is also an elder would have access to those two groups. And since content is the most important part of your website, an author user group can be created for volunteers to add articles. It can all be done, and with Luthernet, it costs about 1/10th of what it might cost with the big firms in town.
File sharing. I always recommend Google Docs, especially if you want anyone to be able to download it. Like a school registration form. However, if you want just some people to have access, you just don't use Google Docs, or you like using PDFs, sometimes as document download component can be very useful. It really depends on usage. I always recommend putting real content, like newsletters, right on the website rather than as a document, unless there are articles you'd rather the public not see. Content on the website is very important, but you may still need to get documents to people, and sometimes just certain people. Luthernet can make it an easy process.