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As the number of people getting online to learn more about the Baha’i Faith continues to grow, local Baha’i communities around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and the advantages of having an online presence.
Here at Baha’i Blog we often get asked by our readers if there’s some way we can help them build a website for their local Baha’i community or their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA), or if we know someone who can help them. Unfortunately we just don’t have the time ourselves, and we’re not always sure who to pass them on to, so we end up pointing them to this Baha’i Blog post about building a fast and free website… but happily now that’s about to change…
(Drum roll please!)
Introducing the Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project!
The Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project provides professional free websites for LSAs needing to communicate with their communities and reach out to those interested in the Baha’i Faith.
It’s a free service project which brings together Baha’i IT professionals and Baha’i communities who need easy to use websites with Calendar, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube integration, all optimized for search engines like Google and Yahoo.
While attending 19 Day Feast in Vancouver, Canada last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Ian Vink, one of the IT professionals behind this wonderful initiative, so I decided to catch-up with Ian again to ask him more about the Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell our readers a little bit about the initiative and why you decided to do it?
When looking to see how the Faith can be supported, we realized that there are many LSAs and communities which aren’t online because it’s perceived to be just too hard. Like the Yellow Pages of the last generation, being available online is critical to let seekers find the community. Our small team created a factory that quickly produces websites optimized for Baha’i Communities working to support the 5 year plan.
Baha’i Blog: Who’s involved with this project?
A small group of developers work remotely to create a large number of high quality sites that are easy to use and add content to. We provide training and walk the LSA through how to use the site and ongoing support.
Baha’i Blog: What’s the feedback been like so far and how’s it all it been going?
Dozens of LSAs in Canada, the USA and Australia now use these sites to actively engage the community of interest. We track users to the sites using Google Analytics and have over 10,000 unique users so far and growing. We’ve also begun working with several National Spiritual Assemblies and many Regional Councils to help expand the effort.
Baha’i Blog: What have some of the challenges been in getting something like this done?
Trust. Building it was hard in the beginning but after we got a number of large LSAs like New York, Houston and North Vancouver published, things got easier. We learned that getting a letter of recommendation from a Council often smooths the way.
Baha’i Blog: How do you hope to see things develop in the future?
We hope to see a lot more sites created. Ironically the hardest part is finding LSAs which wish to have a site created for them.
Baha’i Blog: Well maybe we can help with that!
If your LSA or community would like to get a website up and running and you’d like to contact them or learn more about The Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project, then go to their website for more information.
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