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-8 -- "Fill the Earth & Subdue It!" - B
* Click for Volume Index *     August 1, 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 II

Welcome back to Volume 8. 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. Today we will be discussing more site enhancements and ways to attract additional traffic.

Today's column is going to be a "mixed-bag" of tips and site enhancements. Some of what I am going to discuss following may seem rather technical (some of it is), and some of it DOES require a knowledge of HTML. If it all reads like "Martian" to you, perhaps you can consult with your WEB designer or local guru for some assistance. I believe that the results would be WELL worth the effort.

Merchant Gateways --

If you have need of a "Merchant Gateway", or a method to offer goods for sale online and/or to collect credit card payments, following are two excellent FREE services. They are FREE in the respect that the ONLY fees are a small fixed transaction fee (20-30 cents/tranaction) and a transaction percentage (2-3% of sales). There are NO setup, invoice, monthly, gateway, report, etc. fees. No sales -- NO expense !!

The first service has been around for a LONG time, PayPal, and it is now owned by eBay, the worlds largest online auction. The other is a newcomer, owned by Google, perhaps the worlds largest search engine provider (among many other things). Both offer shopping carts, billing to all major credit cards, and PayPal accepts eChecks. Both are backed by the security and support of well known, major companies. While PayPal is strictly a "standalone" concern, Google MAY be tied to an existing "shopping cart" system. There is one (listed below) that is offering a FREE service. As such, Google has the prospect of being more of a professional "Payment Gateway" than does PayPal.

For more information, click on the following links: [ HERE ]    [ HERE ] (<-- click on the "eCommerce Express" link).

Donation Portal --

How about providing an easy and enticing way for people to be a part of your ministry through their financial support. You COULD use the "PayPal Donate" option, as many sites do, but how about a completely FREE (except for a small percentage of actual donations), VERY professional, fully customizable "Donation Portal" ?? They even allow you to offer free gifts and/or sell products, including a periodic gift sponcered and paid for by THEM. Take a look [ HERE ].

"Busy Call Forwarding" --

If you are going to insist upon remaining with a dialup connection, a very low cost enhancement that you might like to consider is something from your phone company called "Busy Call Forwarding". This is a fixed call forwarding (meaning you have to have the phone company change the forward-to number -- You can't set it yourself). What this will do is forward your calls to a designated number if your line is busy, such as when you are connected to the Internet. There is also another option called "No-answer Call Forwarding". As the name suggests, this will forward the call if your phone fails to answer. Essentially, it is a voice-mail system.

What is unique about both of these service is that the telephone company does NOT advertise them -- AT ALL -- and for a very good reason. Either or BOTH of these services may be actuated for the monthly charge of $2/month for either or BOTH (same price) by simply calling your phone company. There is NO installation charge. Neither is there a charge to charge the forward-to number once the feature is activated. When you call the phone company, they will ask you what phone number you want to forward to and how many rings for the "No-answer".

Of course, you need a phone number. There is an excellent FREE text and voice mail service called "Google Voice" . Couple this with an ULTRA lost cost LD phone service like ECG [ http://www.ecg1.com ], and you are in business !!

"Custom '404 Error' Pages" --

Another "offbeat" tip that I am sure that you never considered is "Custom '404 Error' Pages". When someone types in an incorrect URL at your site (to a page that doesn't exist), or an error occurs for some other reason, the user sees a generic "404 Error" page. If you are using a UNIX server with the CP or similar control panel, you can create a custom error page that says whatever you want. If you are on a Windows server, inquire with your host provider. Don't let those "user mistakes" keep them off of your site -- harness those errors !!

"Page ReDirect" --

Then there is something called "Page ReDirect". This simply captures a request to one URL and redirects it to another. I use this in the case of where I have had a particular URL in service for a long period of time (such as on a free host or a page that I have moved). You don't want to merely abandon the page altogether because that URL will still be referenced by search engines or links at other sites. This way, it redirects the access from the old page to the current page. Of course, the original URL STILL needs to be valid in order to place the redirect page there -- it wouldn't work in a case such as you no longer have the domain or the WEB site no longer exists. To use the feature, simply add the line of code in red to the heading of the OLD page, with the reference to the NEW page where it says "url=". The length of time that the OLD page remains visible before the redirect is controlled by the value of the number (in seconds) following "content=". You may view an example here: [ http://www.tlchrist.info/seenew1.htm ].

<HTML><HEAD><TITLE>Your Site - redirect</TITLE>

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="5;url=http://www.yoursite.com/redirect.htm">

<META Name="description" Content="">

<META Name="keywords" Content="">

</head>

<body>

Form Mail --

You will probably want to include a way to contact you via eMail on your site. It IS NOT recommended that you merely list your eMail address. There are things called "eMail Sniffer Robots" that roam the WEB "sniffing" out eMail address for their owners by searching for the format xxxxxx@xxxxxx.com (net, etc.). This will then result in your eMail address ending up in numerous SPAM databases !!

If you REALLY want your actual eMail address visible on the WEB page, there is an excellent FREE program available [ HERE ] that will encode the HTML code so that it is not recognizable to the "sniffers".

A better way is to provide a WEB form, similar to the one that I use. Mine is based on the CGI script which may be obtained [ HERE ] and a DHTML form created with a program that I will tell you about shortly. It will enable you to put a line similar to this on your HTML pages:

[ <a href="javascript:ShowWin_1143568222343()">Send an <I>eMail</I> to TLC<img src=email1.gif height=20 hspace=10 vspace=5 align=middle> ] and add a line like this to load the JS file: [ <script language="Javascript" src="tlchrist_email.js"> </script> ].

The result will be this: Send an eMail to TLC.

You may download the JS file to take a look at it [ HERE ].

Adding Sound --

Think how dull and hard to understand the world around us would be if there wasn't any Sound. Think about how dull the average WEB page is !! Why not make yours different -- make it come alive with the "World of Sound" -- perhaps even YOUR OWN voice !! Take a look [ HERE ] to find out how easy and inexpensive it can be.

Another VERY interesting program to add sound to your WEB pages is called "Wimpy", and may be found [ HERE ]. More information on it may be found [ HERE  ].

You can visit two pages where you can hear and view a demonstration [ HERE ] and HERE ]. 

There is a program called "LAME", which is used to compress WAVE (.wav) files to MUCH smaller MPEG (.mp3). These are what Wimpy uses. You may download it [ HERE ].

PopUps and DHTML Menus --

First, a short discussion on "PopUps vs. DHTML". Popups generally refer to the windowed (or full-screen) pages that "popup" either over or under your active window when you access properly coded HTML pages. They are usually used for advertising. Another type (for which I include a generator program below) are called "sticky ads" because you can NOT get to the main page below until you close the popup window. The good (or bad, depending if you are the advertiser) thing is that these windows are easily blocked by either the browser itself (if so configured) or by an external blocker.

A newer technology is called "DHTML or Dynamic HTML". These are NOT separate windows at all (even though they may appear as such), but are actually part of the pages code. Hence, they CAN not be blocked by current popup blockers. They can also be designed to slide up and down the page, following the user's scrolling.

They can appear as a part of the page, or can be set to "flyin" after a predetermined delay, and can even to set to disappear after a certain amount of time has passed.

If you note the menu system on my sites (also THIS site), you will note that it consists of a sliding box at left with a selectable popup menu. Some site pages also use popup information (sales) boxes and sliding "footer bars", as well as the previously discussed "popup eMail". These were created with programs which you can download for FREE [ HERE ] and [ HERE ].

The "tlchrist_menu.js" was created with the DHTML program. The "tlc_float.js" file will need to be downloaded [ HERE ], saved, and placed in your site directory. In addition to the JS files, you will also need a script similar to the following on EACH page to generate the sliding box at left. The ACTUAL content within the "<div id="topbar"></div>" of course depends solely upon what you want to appear in YOUR slider box. You can also change the border and background colors, as well as the box width by altering the appropriate parameter in the "<style type="text/css"></style>" section.


<!----- Scripts for floating menu begin ----->

<script language="Javascript" src="tlchrist_menu.js"> </script>

<script language="Javascript" src="tlc_float.js"> </script>

<style type="text/css">
#topbar{
position:absolute;
border: 5px solid #709498;
padding: 1px;
background-color: lightyellow;
width: 140px;
visibility: hidden;
z-index: 100;
}
</style>

<div id="topbar"><FONT FACE="TIMES NEW ROMAN"><table>
<TR><TD><CENTER><B><font color="#B00000">Search </font><font color="#000080">Site </font></B>
<a href="" onClick="closebar(); return false"><img src="close.gif" hspace=1 align=middle border="0"></a></center></TD></TR>
<TR><TD><CENTER>
<FORM ACTION="http://search.freefind.com/find.html" METHOD="GET" target="_blank" />
<INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="id" VALUE="31599509">
<INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="pid" VALUE="r">
<INPUT TYPE="HIDDEN" NAME="mode" VALUE="ALL">
<INPUT type="HIDDEN" name="n" value="0">
<INPUT TYPE="TEXT" NAME="query" SIZE="14">
<INPUT TYPE="SUBMIT" VALUE="Find">
<input type="SUBMIT" name="sitemap" value="Map">
</center></TD></TR>
<TR><TD bgcolor="#EF9684">
<center><a href="javascript:ShowWin_1137884640515()"><B><font color=white>Click for<BR>Site Menu</font></B></A></center></TD></TR>
<TR><TD><center><B><font size=-2>
</font></B></center></TD></TR>
<TR><TD><center><a href="http://www.tlchrist.info/refer_friend/index.php" target="_blank"><img src=1refer.gif border=0 width=88 height=30></A></center></TD></TR>
<TR><TD><center><a href=seenew.htm target=_blank><font color="#000080" size=-1><B>See What's New?</B></font><BR><img src=clkhere.gif border=0></A></center></TD></TR>
</TABLE></font></div>

<!----- Scripts for floating menu end ----->

"Viral eBooks" --

Another GREAT site popularity booster is to give away FREE eBooks. This tool, which you can download for FREE [ HERE ], allows you to create eBooks that require the recipient to send eMails to three of their friends before they can access the contents. It is called "Viral" because, like a disease or computer virus, it spreads exponentially. The first three recipients, in theory, get a copy of the eBook and eMail three more people -- etc., etc. You may download a copy of our eBook [ HERE ].

Next column we will be finishing up the "Nuts-n'-Bolts" technical aspect with Blogs, RSS Feeds and Article Submission. We will then begin in the following column to set our focus on Content and Spiritual Direction.

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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