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Welcome to the new YouthSpecialties.com

Youth Specialties
February 7th, 2010

YouthSpecialties.comIf you only read the blog via an RSS reader or on Facebook, you may want to visit YouthSpecialties.com to check out a brand new website. 

From the Ground Up We didn't just reskin the old site. The fact is that I never liked the site we launched in 2008. While it represented a huge step forward for YS, it just wasn't my vision for what I thought YS's web presence could be. (or had been)

YS has always been on the cutting edge of online ministry, we were a charter member of the Gospelcom community in the early 90s. (Which later developed Biblegateway.com) We were pretty early to establishing a company web site that sold stuff online. We were among the first publishers to see the value in selling directly to our readers online. And we were very early in establishing online community.

The simple fact is that I thought the last YS site was a sidestep instead of a step forward. 

So several months ago we sat down as a team and agreed to move forward on a brand new site. We wanted to apply much of what we learned from Youth Ministry Exchange to the YS site. The working questions was, “What would happen if we mixed the professionalism of the Youth Specialties site with the people who used our stuff on a daily basis?” And we wanted the new site to begin a new era where we could put up content quickly, integrate some technical systems better, and manage our resources a lot more efficiently. From a big picture perspective we wanted to make the site more about serving youth workers and less about Youth Specialties. 

Fair warning What you see as of this moment is Phase One. These things are never really done, are they? We worked for months to get to this point. But we aren't done adding stuff. One example of that is that we are working on modernizing the job bank… code which is nearly ten years old. (Pre-dating Monster.com and nearly every other job site on the internet.) The job bank is a free resource that has helped thousands of people find jobs and fill jobs. We know we can keep it free and make it work better. But we didn't want to hold up the launch of the new site because it wasn't ready. So if you see something that isn't quite right yet, just know we are actively working on it.

Technical specs The biggest change for us is that all YS sites are now on one platform, Expression Engine. When we decided to redo the YS site we knew we wanted to build on a Content Management System. (CMS) And it made sense that if we were going to rebuild every site for the company that we would move all of them to the same CMS. That way, if we train one employee to use Expression Engine they can now make changes on NYWC.com, Planetwisdom.com, CYWC.com, or any of the other sites we are building. 

Behind the scenes we are working hard to find solutions that are right-sized and right-priced for us. In short, the new site is much cheaper for us to maintain, develop, and operate. This represents a core value of our team. We want to work hard to make our services excellent and within the price range of a youth worker. Ultimately, we think that finding value in how we manage our website helps YS do more Kingdom work.

Community elements are back! You can now leave comments on just about everything. We want this new site to come alive in ways the previous one couldn't handle. We're continuing to import hundreds of articles from the old YS site and Youth Ministry Exchange. We'll continue to make all of that stuff easier to find as we learn how users utilize the new site. We will also make it easier to get involved with and share our content. We're also committing to generating and publishing lots of new content. (Both from our authors and event speakers and from youth workers around the world.) We've got more up our sleeves… but we'll just wait for that to roll out in Phase two and beyond.

Some thanks The launch of Phase One came to fruition because of the tireless efforts of many talented people. Besides the YS staff, we'd like to acknowledge a few key folks.

  • Steve Stadwiser from Sessionwise (design work)
  • Jonathan Matlock from Rocketpark (implementation, development)
  • Patti Gibbons from Verbitude (content development)
  • Jen Howver from VOD Communications (content development) 
  • And many, many more

Feedback We'd love to hear what you think about the new site. And we'd also love to hear what isn't working for you or ideas for how to make it better.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.

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