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Quick Reference for Parish Website Admins: Automated Post Updates + Sample Workflow

As our parishes continue migrating content onto their new parish website (and a few new parishes sign up for the second “wave” of website adoption) I have the unique vantage point of seeing how parishes ranging in size, community make-up, and ministries are communicating with their people. While every parish is unrepeatably unique, it’s so interesting to me that many common threads emerge on how we’re communicating our missions.

These new WordPress websites have so many useful functions for parish life; calendars that can categorize and display upcoming events on specific pages, online forms that can streamline the “input this paper form to excel” process, and diocesan articles on Church teaching that are vetted by Diocesan staff and automatically updated across parish websites, to name a few.

One feature that I’m digging into today that I find extremely useful for parishes is the capability of displaying categorized posts automatically to specific pages. This is a game-changer for many parishes because:

  1. Volunteers or ministry leaders can take over the responsibility of posting news, updates and reports on their own pages. This task is VERY easy to train others to do, and with their own account, these leaders are able to post content relevant to their work, without having access to the entire website, so nobody has to worry about accidentally deleting or altering a page by mistake!
  2. Post categories and automatic post updates can be handled entirely within the Posts feature on WordPress. This means the Parish Website Administrator doesn’t have to launch the Blackbaud Builder to edit any pages; which streamlines your workflow making the task simple and less time-consuming.
  3. The Post Module formats everything for you, so your content looks well-organized and interactive – easy to find and understand. You can customize a “query” that calls up content and arranges it any way you see fit: by date, time, event or announcement type, etc. Then, the Posts Module arranges your content automatically in an easy-to-read layout and will manage the order and number of posts displayed for you.
  4. This is a “one and done” process; you set up a category, your post module, and user ONE TIME, and from there the process is simple; you should never have to go back to adjust things unless you wish to change how it works. Meaning, you save time on page updates by setting this up once and letting it ride.

How it Works

The Parish Website Administrator can create or organize categories that pertain to specific topics within your parish. Some examples of post categories might include: Youth Ministry, Knights of Columbus, Parish Council Meeting Minutes, Vocations Committee, etc.

After a category is created, it can be selected on any post to “categorize” that post. For example, after a Parish Council meeting, the secretary can post the meeting minutes, select the “Parish Council Meeting Minutes” category, and if programmed to do so, those minutes will pop up across the website where desired.

I created a step-by-step process for you below. This is the workflow for setting up Automated Posts using the Posts Module and Post Categories on your parish website:

Step-by-step Guide

  1. Create your “Post Category”. To do this, navigate to “Posts” from the dashboard, the pop-up menu will show you “Categories”. Simply add in the new category in the boxes on the left. You can also edit existing categories in the full list on the right.
  2. Set up the page where the posts will display (if it is not already set up).
  3. Pull the “Posts Module” onto the page these posts will display on.
  4. Set up the Posts Module to display posts, adjust the “Layout” tab, and “Content” to assign the post category.
  5. Create the user (Author)
    1. A good rule of thumb is to create a username with the first initial of the first name and full last name. WordPress will automatically generate their first password – but they can log in to update that password the first time they use WordPress.
    2. Just a note for you! Authors can:
      1. See all posts
      2. Create, Publish and Edit their own posts/events but not others
      3. Choose the category of their post
  6. Train the new Author:
    1. After creating the Author Account, help the new Author log into WordPress and who them how to change the WordPress-generated password to one they can remember. Remember, all users can log into the website at: “yourparishname.diojeffcity.org/wp-admin”
    2. Show the Author how to create a new post (or event – they work the same way).
    3. Show the Author how to select their category, add a “featured image” and “post excerpt” if desired.
    4. Show the Author how to publish their post, and also show them how to find their post and edit it later (in the Posts section).
  7. Double-check to ensure the posts are displaying correctly on the assigned page, and voila!

Where could your parish use this feature?

Sample use: Classroom Pages for Teachers

For parishes that have an integrated school website, you may desire for your teachers to have their own classroom webpage. To allow teachers access to update these pages without access to the entire website, you could easily set up the above workflow to function as a “Classroom Page”.  In this case, here’s how it would work:

  • The Parish Website Admin would create a category for the teacher, “Ashley Wiskirchen”
  • Next, set up the “Ms. Wiskirchen’s Class” page, add the Posts Module and tweak the settings to display as desired (using the workflow above). Set the Posts Module to pull the category “Ashley Wiskirchen”
  • Create a new user: Author for Ashley with their school email address
  • The teacher will receive an automatic email prompting them to confirm their account, from there, they can log into the dashboard
  • Train your teacher on the steps above
  • Now they have a way to post and update their classroom page any time, as frequently as they desire, without having access to alter or delete other teachers’ posts or existing web pages – thus a little virtual classroom page!

Sample use: Youth Ministry

In my onboarding sessions, I often pick on Youth Ministry, because it’s one of those outreach ministries that have many upcoming events and energized members looking to contribute in a meaningful way. Automated posts would allow a Youth Minister to collect upcoming events specific to their youth group in one place (so that youth or parents could easily find them on the Youth Ministry page without having to look at the entire parish calendar.)

Additionally, Youth Ministers could enlist others to write blog posts or reflections that they can review before publishing, using the “Contributor” user role; this way core team members or even youth members themselves could contribute to the posts, but be managed in an easy way so that the Youth Minister can approve or request changes to text before it publishes to the parish website.

Live Examples:

If you’d like to see an example of how the Posts Module works, you can visit: diojeffcity.org/communications. There, a Post Module is displayed under “How We’re Serving the Diocese.” That section might just be how you found this very post! We have our Posts pulling from the “Communications” category, displaying our 12 most recent posts in a “masonry” format, with author names and publish dates included.

I also have a sub-category just for Parish Website Administrators, which displays in a different format at: diojeffcity.org/blog/category/communications/parish-website-admins.

I hope you find this guide helpful; website work is truly never-ending in a sense because we have the ability to update information frequently. But I think this workflow helps to reduce the need to constantly update pages by allowing them to be updated automatically as needed. I also envision this workflow divvying responsibilities in a realistic way when it comes to managing your parish’s website.


I would be happy to answer questions, help you set this up for your parish, or see your examples as we begin to launch parish websites soon!

Until next time!

Warmly,

Ashley Wiskirchen
Director of Parish Communications
Diocese of Jefferson City
Office: 573.635.9127
Email: communication@diojeffcity.org