Making the leap - starting a lodge website

Discussion in 'General Freemasonry Discussion' started by Preston DuBose, Jan 4, 2011.

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  1. Preston DuBose

    Preston DuBose Registered User

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    Apparently our lodge had a site several years ago, but like so many others it was neglected and eventually left to lapse. I've been holding off on creating a new one because there's only one or two other people in our lodge who know anything about updating websites. However, it has become clear that we need a place we can direct people for more information about our public events such as our toy drive or our car show, as well as info about the lodge.

    So, does anyone have any advice/resources/etc/ for new lodge websites? My intention is to keep this dead simple.
     
  2. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    I cannot give you any direct advice. But, I would like to ask a favor: Can you keep us advised of your progress? My lodge is not convinced that they need a website (??). Honestly, the lodge is not interested in getting a website. I would like to see what sort of items you will include, and what information you will leave out.

    Fact is, some individual lodge websites are terrific, some are mediocre, some are an embarrassment. I hate it, when I bring up a lodge website, and they are advertising an event, that occured three years ago. This is an embarrassment to all Masonry. What are people supposed to think, when they access a site, with events that occured, during the Clinton administration?

    I would like to see a national competition, for the best lodge websites. I would also like to see a "hall of shame" for the worst websites. Nothing like some peer pressure, to force lodges to shape up.

    I read that the Grand Lodge of Ohio, has mandated that ALL lodges in the state will have a website. This is terrific. In a perfect world, all lodges would already have had a website for many years. Maybe other Grand Lodges will follow Ohio's example. I would like to see the Scottish Rite(SJ), adopt a "template", for all lodges to follow, in the designing of their websites.
     
  3. Preston DuBose

    Preston DuBose Registered User

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    Charles,

    Will do. I appreciate that not every lodge has someone with webmaster skills, just as not every lodge has a brother who is an accountant, or electrician, or plumber, or lawyer, or any of the other trades that can be of service to our lodges. There are some amazing masonic websites out there (this one certainly ranks among them), and honestly I don't see the need to try to reinvent the wheel or even repeat what has already been done elsewhere. We can easily link to the Grand Lodge and sites such as this one to answer the question "What is Freemasonry?". Unless someone can convince me otherwise, our site needs to:

    ...be about us
    ...embrace the beauty of simplicity, if not minimalism
    ...serve as a platform for spreading the word about our public activities

    It does not have to:

    ...educate the world about Freemasonry. We can link elsewhere for that.
    ...have a scheduling calendar, member roster, forum, post comments, or other features that are great in theory but likely to be forgotten by our the majority of our members and unmaintained by the webmaster.
    ...be as awesome as masonsoftexas.com. There can be only one!

    Now on to the nitty-gritty. I've had good luck with HandsOnWebHosting.com, so I'll probably use them again. If I prepay for a year of hosting I can get it for $4.50 a month. The domain name will be another $10. Unfortunately it looks like a machinists lodge with our number has already staked their internet claim, so I'll have to get creative with the domain name. I've done several installations of WordPress and the large user community is a major plus, but as mentioned above I think it's overkill in this case. Nor am I all that keen on modding another WordPress theme. I'm just now finishing up a redesign for my church's website. I'm not really looking for another project of that scope. So I may just do a simple HTML site with a handful of pages for lodge info, links for more info on Freemasonry, and then pages for our community service and fundraisers.
     
  4. cemab4y

    cemab4y Premium Member

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    There is a brother Mason in nearby Richmond KY, who will design our site for free. I can get the site hosted for free. Our lodge does not see the need for a webpage, since we "never had one before". Getting the site designed, is a snap, getting it hosted is easy. Getting the mind-set of the lodge to change, and embrace the internet age, is impossible.
     
  5. Blake Bowden

    Blake Bowden Administrator Staff Member

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  6. Hippie19950

    Hippie19950 Premium Member

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    Brother Preston,
    In the mean time, you might get a Facebook page up and going. It's pretty simple, and effective for the immediate areas. We have one for Golden Rule Lodge #361 in Hearne. I and other Brothers can post things we are planning, and information on getting in touch and so on. This Forum has one, as well as many other Masonic related organizations. Once you get a website up, you can set it up to "re-post" to the FB page if you want. GLoTx does the same thing, and so does Brother Blake for items here. Because of FB, I have found many new Brothers in other places, and some are always interested in what we are doing in our Lodge and so on. We have an OLD website (or did, Geocities is defunct now), but it was outdated when I looked at it a few years back, and no one seemed to know how to access the site to work on it..... I just like the fact that we have gotten Golden Rule out of the 19th Century, and into the 21st!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  7. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    One word (OK, one acronym), CMS. An easy to use content management system, set up with a stock template or a nice custom job, will ensure that even when Brother Webmaster is away (sometimes for good) the content of the site can be maintained by almost anyone who can type. No programming or design skills required.
     
  8. Bro.BruceBenjamin

    Bro.BruceBenjamin Premium Member

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    Hmm,

    I wounder if i can put qbasic or html skills to use and build my lodge a site. On a side note not to many members own computers.
     
  9. Dave in Waco

    Dave in Waco Premium Member

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    True, but a website provides two services. First it is a communication hub for members with computers. Second it is a 24/7/365 presence in which prospective members might obtain information on your lodge. Sometime people might wander upon it looking for something else, and it might catch their attention.
     
  10. JohnnyFlotsam

    JohnnyFlotsam Premium Member

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    I just had to let you know that at least one person got the joke. :001_tongue:

    Now you kids, get off my lawn!
     
  11. Hippie19950

    Hippie19950 Premium Member

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    When I find a good website, I add it to a list I provide the members each month who want one. It has the URL's for this Forum, as well as many others. Not all have computers as was noted above, but many times one of us will print out info we think others might like, and bring it in. All in all, I think having websites, and a Facebook page will help out. Many are interested in Freemasonry, and will search for it online. If they are looking for a specific Lodge, or one in an area they are in, having a page will definitely help them and the Lodge.
     
  12. Bro.BruceBenjamin

    Bro.BruceBenjamin Premium Member

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    tough croud.
     
  13. Spring TX MM

    Spring TX MM Premium Member

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    [FONT=&quot]I have to say that having a website is a very useful tool. When I was S.D. I probably had at least seven people contact me interested in joining our Lodge that year. They said that they found our website when they were searching around, liked what they read and wanted to petition our Lodge. About a year and a half ago or so a Canadian Grand Lodge officer visited our Lodge and mentioned that he had seen our website. Since most Lodges do not have someone at the Lodge all day long to answer phone calls, having a website can provide people with contact information as well as many other things. Let's face the facts, we are in the 21st century and we need keep up with the times if Masonry is going to survive. If you need any ideas, I would be glad to help. I don't know how to design the website but I can help with content and other areas. I'm sure the Brother who designed our website would help as well. Great initiative Brother, keep up the good work.

    Fraternally,
    Spring TX MM
    Spring Lodge #1174 - Home
    [/FONT]
     
  14. JTM

    JTM "Just in case" Premium Member

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    A good CMS is very important for the kind of site that they want, I think. I would go with joomla, drupal, or wordpress. Lots of people use wordpress and it gets old, though. Drupal/Joomla in my opinion.
     
  15. Evv64-Ben

    Evv64-Ben Registered User

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    We have used Masonic Pages CMS fro past 3 years fro our lodge's website, their templates are designed specifically for masonic lodges and very easy to use.
     
  16. Companion Joe

    Companion Joe Premium Member

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    We started a web site earlier this year. It has gone over very well. When myself and a couple of other younger members (I'm not really a "younger" member, but by comparison to the average I am) brought it up, I figured the idea wouldn't be well received. It really was. The web master gives a monthly report on it, and we get several hundred views.

    I don't have anything to do with the web site, so I can't tell you what all was involved with creating it. I think the web master used something call Yola or Yela or something like that. I think the cost is pretty minimal, less than $100 a year.

    Here is the link.

    http://greenevillelodgeno3.org
     
  17. kolobe

    kolobe Registered User

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    I started a website for our lodge. I'm no computer whizz but I managed to get it up and running. I had a tuf time to get it past the older brethern but they gave in and now that we had more than 500 hits and one possable candidate they feel much better about it. It's not a great site but now poeple know of us in our town.
    One thing about facebook. We want to create a page but brethern are concerned about poeple posting bad things on there. How is your experience with facebook?
    Please check out our sit and leave a comment in the visitors book.

    rtbmasons.co.za
     
  18. Morris

    Morris Premium Member

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    Facebook.

    On it you can create a group. The group can be selected to secret. At that point the only people who can see the group, it's postings, and members are the people in it.

    Hope that helps!


    Jeff
     
  19. Companion Joe

    Companion Joe Premium Member

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    I avoid Facebook. I know a lot of people use it. I prefer not to.

    As for creating a group and keeping it secret, that, to me, defeats the purpose of a Lodge web site. The main purpose of a Lodge web site, I believe, is to get as much information about your Lodge activities to as many people as possible.
     
  20. Morris

    Morris Premium Member

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    The group function for me is used just like this app on myfreemasonry except, in my case, only members in our lodge can see and have discussion.

    We have a Facebook and website for the world to see and then have our private group. Our group is more of a place online where I can quickly ask if anyone wants to meet up 30 mins earlier, for example. Kind of like a glorified email. You can adjust the privacy if you'd like for the world to know you'll be there 30 mins early. But we chose to keep it private.

    There is a reason people (myself included) don't trust Facebook and it has a lot of privacy concerns, the secret group can be a way of easing some concerns. I rarely use Facebook for it's intended purpose, I just use it as way of messaging people. Hope that makes sense.


    Jeff
     
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