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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Revival Centre Church: the website

One week ago, my church, Revival Centre Church (update 3 Jan 10: link is no longer working), officially launched its revamped website. Today, I'm making the announcement here, so as not to steal my church's thunder.

The story of how I got involved in its revamp is an interesting one. It all started almost four months ago... wow, was it that long ago? Anyway, the old website was admirable, considering the level of web-expertise that the developers/designers had -- and I'm not looking down on them, I'm just saying that the pages were just plain HTML in ASP pages. (HTML = static (generally), ASP = dynamic, i.e. pages can change content without requiring a rewrite of the underlying code)

I got wind that the website was going to be revamped soon, and approached the deacon-in-charge. He was surprised by my offer to volunteer, because at that moment, he was looking for a web developer with some decent coding experience. Coincidence? Divine intervention? You decide.

It turns out that another church member had already come up with the look-and-feel of the website, but that volunteer is more of a designer than a coder. So I became the third part of the trinity. My job then would be to translate the design from paper to bits and bytes.

Three months ago, we had our first sit-down-over-lunch meeting, where I had a first-hand look at the design. Luckily, it was clean and simple, just the way I like it. There's no need for a convoluted, flashy design that only kids-on-caffeine would appreciate. Also, a simple design could be more easily transcribed into a webpage.

Slightly more than two months ago, I finally got the ZIP file containing the required graphics, and got down to work... only to hit a few stumbling blocks. Suffice to say that I found out that the church didn't actually need to pay for the ASP add-on since the server was running Apache and PHP natively. D'oh! And then, while making some pages easier to manage with database support, I found out that the hosting package didn't include the MySQL database, which is almost standard nowadays in similar plans. I had to think outside the box in overcoming the lack of database while keeping the pages dynamic and easily updateable.

About a month ago, I floated the idea of including a podcast of the weekly sermons in the website... only to realise that to include those audio files in the limited server disk space, I'd have to remove some video files of mission trips. Sob! And I like both so very much! In the end, the podcast won. I wrote an RSS feed for it and, after a brief snafu, it seems to be working fine.

Three weeks ago, we finally caved in and bought the MySQL add-on so that we could run our own forum.

Two weeks ago, the deacon-in-charge declared a "soft launch", getting the church staffers to test the website.

One week ago, he made the announcement in church.

And today, I'm making the announcement here.

Yes, it's sparse. Yes, it's lacking in content. But I'm proud of three things:
  1. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards-compliance (not perfect, but very close)
  2. modern CSS-controlled, no-table layout, including collapsible menu
  3. MPEG-4 and some 3GPP (e.g. for playback on 3G handphones) videos (no Windows Media crap, thank you very much)
So check it out: Revival Centre Church (update 3 Jan 10: link is no longer working).


Technorati tags: Revival Centre Church, web design


gs lee said...

The link doesn't work. Is there something missing?


Yuhui said...

It looks like the site has been removed, that's why.

Revival Centre Church said...

A new link is available now. The new site is up.

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