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Technology – 3 of 3 – There’s an App for That

by | Jul 2, 2014 | Communications

By Rev. Mark Maddox

Have you ever wanted to have a church app?  Have you thought about what you want it to do?  Have you ever just thought it would be “cool” to have one?  Me too!

So I looked around at what it too to build one myself – HA!  I am not smart enough.

So I looked at hiring someone to build one for me – HA!  I am not rich enough.

So I did some searching around the internet to find some “app builders.”  I realized these wouldn’t have the exact look or flexibility I wanted, but I can’t afford what I want!

So I went with a company called Como (www.como.com).  I encourage you to check them out and several of their competitors.  (You can get started here:  http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4901-best-app-makers-creators.html)

Como allowed me to create a free account (always good) and play around creating my app.  You do NOT need to pay anything until you are ready to go live.

Before you start creating your app I recommend the following:

– Figure out who your app is for:  Is it for those who don’t come now or for those who do?
(We created ours for those who come now as we doubted many people would simply “stumble” across our app without first knowing about us.)

– Decide what you MUST have on your app.  We decided on the following:
a) Who we are.  (A no-brainer for those at our church, but you never know!)
b) Upcoming events.  (Updated weekly by an RSS feed.)
c) Life Groups.  (Semi-static – tells about our life groups, can be updated with RSS.)
d)Prayer Request (Form allowing prayer requests to be sent in.)
e) Sunday Scriptures (Updated weekly with that week’s scriptures for Sunday.)
f) Study Questions (I write up 7 study questions every week that go with my sermon.)
g) Live Feed (They can view our live feed on Sundays.)
h) Photo Archives (Pulls off of Facebook.)
i) Our Videos (Some videos we have taken.  Pulls off of youtube and/or vimeo.)
j) Current Sermon Series (Audios of current sermon series.)
k) Sermon Archives (Audios of past sermons.)
l) Donate (Need to help them give back to God!)
m) Contact us

There are probably more things we could add, but that’s where we started.  The feedback has been very good and I know people are using it weekly.

Here is some information you probably really want to know:

Costs:  For Como it was $599 one time.  They have other pricing models (monthly) on their site but I suggest you do NOT use them.  You will pay a ton of money over the long-haul.  On their website they say it is $1,500 one time, but don’t pay that!  Wait for them to send you a coupon that brings the price down to $599.  You have to wait about 2 weeks after signing up for the free account, but it will come!

Technical:  You should be good with computers and understand the basics of internet feeds.  It will help a lot.  If you don’t even know what an RSS feed is, get someone to help who does.  Also, make sure you get someone who is GOOD with graphic artwork.  You want your app to look good, not cheesy.  (Apple wants it to look good as well.)

Ongoing:  We update the feeds in our app every week.  (We also podcast our audio sermons weekly to the ITunes store.)  My Sunday slides person does all of these updates every week.  (See blog post on Technology #1 of 3.)  It takes about 15 minutes a week to update.

As far as Como is concerned, they are very very very slow and poor at technical support.  As a “Diamond” customer, I am supposed to have priority tech support.  It takes a week to hear back and their support usually isn’t helpful.  On a scale of 1-10 for tech support, I give them a zero.

They are very very slow at submitting your app to all the app stores.  I waited a week for them to submit, and then I finally ended up submitting it to Kindle and Google myself.  By the way, Kindle is free, but Google will cost you$25.  Como has to submit to Apple for you.  Apple will cost you $100 a year.  That’s your only ongoing cost.

So I don’t really recommend Como for their service and support, but they are the lowest cost provider I found and they were easy enough to use.  I just wish their support was better.

Oh – Apple is really slow as well.  Kindle took 2 hours for my app to go live and Google took 1 day.  Apple takes forever – at least 2 weeks.  They kicked back my first one so I just recently resubmitted.  Still waiting.  You also need a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) number before you set up your Apple Developer account.  That also can take two weeks or longer if you don’t already have one, so check that before you do anything!

– July 1st update!  Apple just approved our App!  We will be live in the Apple App Store tomorrow! (This was a long process!)

So if you want to check out the app I created through Como, you can find it in the app store by searching for:  Sanctuary UMC.  Remember, as of this writing (June 30), it wasn’t in the Apple store yet, just in the Google Play and the Amazon stores.

There you go, my journey to getting an app for Sanctuary!

To read this and other articles from Rev. Mark Maddox, visit www.pastormarksblog.com .

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