Launching a 'Beta' Website

Please help.

Matthew Maude | Thu, 13th Oct 2016

I'm very excited to announce the 'Beta' launch of the new Jubilee Church Website. We live in exciting times, and I really get a sense that this launch represents more than just a series of pretty pictures, or millions of lines of code. It’s so much more than that. This ties in with all we have heard about a new season for Jubilee.

Whilst, to a certain extent, the website is here and done, it’s not yet fully completed and we need your help. Let me explain why, and how you can help.

In a nutshell, a 'beta launch' is a bit like when you move into a house, before unpacking. The house is still there with all your stuff in it, you may even have your mattresses actually on your beds, instead of on the floor. However a lot of stuff is still in boxes, and you just don’t know where the spoons are; and so you’re sat there, eating your cereal with a fork. Have you moved in? Is it still your new home? Absolutely… but a few things need your attention, and some new furniture needs buying.

We’ve done exactly the same thing. We’ve moved into our new house (the website) and we want to invite you round before we’re fully unpacked. Hey, why wouldn’t we? Our new house is here and available, why wouldn’t we share it with you.

However, we need your help. We need you to help us to unpack; to put the photo frames on the shelves, to help find the spoons and, no doubt, we need you to advise us on where to put the furniture.

So please would you help us. Help us to find the typos and mistakes. Remember to be supportive and encouraging as you do this; we’ve only just moved in after all!

If you find something that needs more attention, please contact the Web Team (select the 'Report a Website Correction' option), and explain what you have found, and how we can fix it.


We’d love to share some of the story with those of you who are interested….

It seems like a long time ago that we started talking about a new website. Then gradually we came to know what we really wanted to achieve with a website. What we would want it to look like and what we would want it to say.

At that time, we knew we needed to answer two specific questions. We needed to work out a budget and we needed to consider how we wanted to present Jubilee to those not in our community.

It was just a matter of time before both were worked out. The budget was met by an extremely generous gift day in November 2015. The second question (what some would call branding) was much harder to solve. The more and more we explored this matter, the more convinced we became that ‘Jubilee’ was best represented in the way it was already recognised by so many.

And so, a long journey came to its conclusion with a refreshed version of our existing logo. After all, we were already familiar with it and beginning to apply it to promotional fliers, notice slides and the events website. All it needed now, was the selection of some new brand colours (a shade of purple, if you hadn’t noticed!).

Throughout the Spring, the church worked hard to write a comprehensive specification of our website needs and after Easter, a site was commissioned.

Now, the really hard bit was ready to begin!

In my day job, my company frantically began to lay down the technical framework for the project, and design options were drawn up and presented. But it was when the day job ended that hours of discussion went into questions around what content and images we needed and where 240 old podcasts would go!

And so, emails went out to various people asking for information about their area of the church. That covered about half of the content, and so the rest was written in the knowledge that it could be updated later.

Meanwhile, the website build was coming together nicely. New features had been developed and tested on an upgraded events site, whilst the rest of the site was built and put together. 

At the end of August I proposed the idea of a ‘Beta launch’, which would allow us to benefit early on from the work that had already been completed and help us to gather much needed information from real life users who browse the website every day.

So the new site, even in Beta mode, needed to be able to deliver at least the same, if not better information. It also needed to function, and function well. It’s no good if we have an excellent podcast system, but no homepage and no means to navigate the site.

Fully aware, that ‘perfect’ was not a viable concept anytime in the near future, we decided to bite the bullet and set a deadline. We committed to a Beta launch, in early October, knowing that a good website is good for Jubilee and we just needed to make that happen.

And so, a small team began to re-divert their evenings and weekends to work towards pulling together all the different components of this project. Slowly, but surely, the project began to come together.

I have been responsible for the platform (the website itself) and a team from Jubilee have been responsible for the content. This has been a gigantic, sometimes overwhelming task. But a task, that they heroically took on nonetheless!

So this is where we need your help. Please would you help us test this website? Let’s own this project together as a church.

Please would you read through the content and if you find a typo, don’t move on, let the Web Team know. If you find some information that is wrong, incomplete or missing, again, let the Web Team know. Please be as constructive as you can, tell us what you found, where you found it, and how to change it - often, a screenshot is really helpful. Don’t worry if ten people tell us the same thing, this way we can get it right. Try to be descriptive, the person receiving the email on one day may be a different person the next day.

Together, we can turn this ‘Beta’ project into an amazing website. We have a number of other improvements lined up, but we can’t achieve this goal without you. Just as the church is not one small group of people within it, rather all of us together, so too is this project not just the work of a few, but the collaboration of us all.

I’d personally like to thank everyone who has contributed to helping, what started as just conversations, turn into a reality. A website that launched with 348 pages. Individuals that have written and re-written content, read, and re-read content and people who have given up evenings, or even whole days to complete random tasks, without even knowing why. People who have sat with me, to look at designs, write code, send emails, find errors and plan where everything is going to go. For all the people who have offered ideas and encouragement - thank you all.

This is a church project, by the church, for the church, to represent the church to Teesside and the world. Let’s work together, to make this the very best that it can be.

Thank you - we hope you enjoy it.

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