When To Use Featured Content Gallery (and when not to)

One of my favorite WordPress plugins is the Featured Content Gallery. I have included it into many of the themes I have released as well as several of the custom sites I have designed. It works great because it allows you to display dynamic content and images cleanly and easily while conserving screen real estate.
While it is an important tool, I don’t think it is for every site or blog. Most churches use it as an announcement rotator. You can see how this works at Vineyard Community Church’s website here. I included FCG here because they have someone who is gifted at design on staff. If they did not have someone who could create quality announcement images, then I would have had to do something else for their homepage.
If you are unable to create eye catching designs to use, then going with a quality static image is the better choice. It is always perferable to go with the highest quality images you can legally use on your site.
So what do you do if you want to use FCG but you don’t know how to make these images that you will need? Simple, learn how to make them yourself. You can get started doing this yourself right away with the tools and resources listed below.

  1. Gimp: this is a free image editor that can produce some incredible results for you. Learn more at their site.  You can find 10 tutorials on using GIMP here.
  2. Photoshop: obviously not free, but the hands down best image editor out there. It is the standard. But what if you don’t want to spend $700? Most churches and nonprofits can purchase it for around $300 and you can always find it on eBay. The current version is CS4, but CS2 or CS3 will work great and cost less. You could also try Photoshop Elements for around $100.
  3. Flickr: this online picture site does lots more than share pictures of peoples vacations and pets. It can be a valuable source of pictures you can legally use. Try the advanced search and check the boxes at the bottom of the form for searching Creative Commons License pictures. Depending on what you want to use them for, these pictures can be put to use on your site. You may have to attribute the photographer, or you may not be able to modify the image. Check the license for specific usage instructions.
  4. CreativeMYK: if you are looking for quality images and graphics created for the church that you can generally use in your church for free, this is the place for you.  It’s more than just a spot to search for downloads, it features an active community that you can be a part of.  You can find other creative professionals to help your church out and get feedback on your creations and ideas from knowledgeable people.  You can find CreativeMYK here.

I do believe that most churches and organizations can make use of FCG.  Try out the resources that I’ve listed above.  If you like someone to professionally create your images, I can help you with that.  Please visit my portfolio site and contact me for further details.

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