Building a WEB Ministry
-- the "Nuts n' Bolts"

By Total Love In Christ Ministries

This column will deal with creating
and maintaining an Online Ministry
.

Vol. One-7 -- "Fill the Earth & Subdue It!" - A
* Click for Volume Index *     July 15, 2006

1:26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, .... and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.” 1:27 God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! ........... It was so. 1:31 God saw all that he had made – and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. **** Genesis

Enhancing and Expanding Your Site: Part I

Welcome back to Volume 7. With God's Good Grace, this information and these tools (IF implemented) should begin to get traffic flowing to your site. Remember, WEB traffic is like planting -- you plant the seeds and then have to wait patiently for the crop. The additional seed then produces more plants, more seed, etc. In this and following columns, as promised, I will discuss and tell you where to find additional add-ons to make your site even MORE attractive to visitors, as well as tools to track and evaluate site traffic.

Just a quick P.S. -- An excellent tool for making quick changes to an HTML page is called "Metapad" (it is what I use). It is basically a much more sophisticated replacement for the old Windows Notepad. You can even arrange for it to replace the Notepad program permanently, if you wish. It is available for FREE [ HERE ].

Site Statistics (Stats) --

Now that, due to my excellent advise (Ha-ha!!), you have visitors flocking to your site by the thousands, you need tools to monitor, track, and evaluate your traffic to see what you REALLY have, their interests, and where they are coming from !! By all means avoid all forms of "hit-counters" and on-page tracking code unless ABSOLUTELY necessary. They are inefficient, give you limited information (most of it NOT too useful), and require that you place code on EACH page that you want tracked. They are also generally unnecessary.

Your hosting service should have provided you with access to your site logs, either in raw, analog form, or more probably in the popular "AWSTATS" form. If they did not, ask them about it. These stats will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about your WEB traffic, and will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your site and your promotion methods.

An even better product is "WEBLog Expert" -- a software program that resides on YOUR computer, and requires that you download the raw stats from your hosting service. Again, ASK your host about the stats log. You may download this software [ HERE ]. There is a FREE Lite version as well as a paid version.

Among the benefits of this program is that you can configure it to display exactly the information that YOU are interested in as well as the time period of interest. You can also view this info when and as often as you wish. One BIG benefit of this program is that it can be configured to display stats by the DAY. This allows you to observe daily activity. You can also view the ERRORS (404) by day. This is very useful when you are first designing a WEB page in order to allow you to spot and fix any coding errors that might exist.

Site Up (down) Time --

It is also very useful to monitor the "downtime" of your site, or how often your site is unavailable due to hosting failure (sometimes it IS unavailable due to merely traffic congestion). There is a FREE service that you can enroll in [ HERE ] that will monitor your site every 15 minutes, and send you an eMail when it goes down and another when it comes back up again.

Site Search and "Map" Page --

Another invaluable tool for site visitors may be found [ HERE ]. It will allow you to place a search box for YOUR site on your WEB pages, as well as automatically creating a MAP of all of your site pages. It is VERY customizable, and did I mention, it is also FREE. However, it WILL require a little effort and HTML expertise to efficiently implement and integrate it into your site.

Mailing List (Newsletter) --

If you wish to set up a mailing list to offer a newsletter or some-such to your visitors, an excellent FREE program can be found [ HERE ]. Unlike some offsite services, this is a fully self-contained service hosted on YOUR site, so that YOU have full control over it. It is easy to install using PHP code, very customizable, loaded with features, and requires only a snippet of code to be added to the HTML page that you want the sign-up box to appear on. Also VERY important, it is a "double optin system", meaning that after signing up, your visitor will receive another eMail asking them to confirm that they REALLY requested the newsletter. This prevents someone else from enrolling a person, and creating VERY unhappy customers. There is also an option whereby the enrollee can UNsubscribe themselves.

"Refer-A-Friend" --

Then again, how about adding a feature called "Refer-A Friend". This allows your visitors to send eMails to friends and associates, complete with the URL of their recommended page, inviting them to come and give your site a visit. Again, this is a PHP program, hosted at YOUR site. You may download the software [ HERE ]. You will see a lot of services offering a similar product, hosted from THEIR site, and NOT actually a part of yours.

You may view ALL of these features at work at our WEB site HERE  ].

Guest Book --

Another great "extra" that you might want to consider is a "Guest Book", where people visiting your site can "sign-in" and/or leave a short message. One "off-site" source is [ HERE ].

There are MANY other "Extras and Options" that you can look at [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].

Skype - Free VOIP Phone --

Also, you might want to consider offering a FREE VOIP telephone service to allow your community to contact you and to interact with each other. VOIP is a means whereby you can initiate phone calls over the Internet (you MUST have a high speed connection, DSL, etc.). One such FREE service, owned by eBay, is called Skype. They provide free computer-to-computer calls worldwide AND (for now at least), FREE computer to land and mobile phones within the US.

Be sure to return for our next column. Here we will be discussing more site enhancements and ways to attract additional traffic, including RSS feeds and Blogs.

Just a brief word about my background. I am and have been a Computer Consultant for over 30 years -- 15 of them with IBM mainframes and 15 of them with PC hardware, software, and WEB design. I am also an ordained minister and hold a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. I am the director of Total Love in Christ Ministries, located at:   [ www.tlchrist.info ].   My consulting site is at:   [ www.totlogcon.com ].

Yours in Christ till
our next meeting;

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