Web Building Tips

Guidelines for Maintaining Your Mission Alumni Pages

These are not meant to be definitive guidelines and not every suggestion here may apply to your mission site. However, LDS Mission Network does consider adherence to these guidelines in determining which site it lists for a given mission. Mission sites which flout these guidelines will not be listed on LDSMN under any circumstances.

More importantly, these guidelines are also representative of the practices of the mission pages which have been most successful in terms of scope and number of online alumni involved.

NOTE: These tips do not cover set-up on specific servers (in particular, the dial-up services) as each one has different procedures for establishing home pages which are usually documented in a link from their home page.

It is our hope that these tips will help the beginning mission homepage developer both to 1) avoid common Web pitfalls and 2) to foster growth of their mission web site.

  1. Support the principal mission language. Pages which deal with missions whose primary language is not English should have a version in the principal mission language(s). Obviously, for languages with font limitations (including most non-Indo-European languages), this is not necessary. Check our Language Selection page to find out more on how to support more than one language.

  2. Don't do a page specific to one mission president. There just aren't enough people on the net to get the word out about your page if you limit yourself to one mission president. In addition, to be listed on the LDS Mission Network, you need to support both the mission presidents associated with your mission, and those associated with the defunct missions which preceded yours as well.

  3. Several pages have been proposed for defunct missions. This is reasonable if there are no missions that descend from the defunct mission--a good example of this would be the Iran Teheran Mission. However, for defunct missions which have descendant missions, the page should be created for the most direct descendant, which can be determined by looking in the most recent Church Almanac. If you need help determining the descendant mission, check Finding pages for defunct/renamed missions or e-mail support@mission.net.

  4. Maintain a page for your own mission only. Doing a page for a mission where you (your spouse or a close relative) didn't serve, implicitly robs that page of meaning for the missionaries who actually served there. Besides, maintaining ONE page is hard enough to keep up with--give yourself a break :^)

  5. Stay away from frames, if possible. If you choose to use frames, be sure to include a non-frames version. Many potential readers are recently returned RMs who, as students, only have access to the internet via college computer labs. Not all colleges have the extensive funds needed to upgrade as fast as they'd desire.

    In addition, by using "bleeding edge technology" you run the risk of alienating a large portion of your readership. To find out more about LDSMN's statistics--i.e. what browsers are used the most, which platforms, etc.-- check out the LDSMN Usage statistics.

  6. Be cautious when using graphics. Although graphics can be slow, judicious use of them can increase the interest your alumni have in your page. Be sure whatever graphics you decide to use to choose a file format which minimizes the memory space used by your graphic. Smaller graphics files obviously take less time to download, so your alumni don't lose interest waiting. As a rule of thumb, photos and other images with much color gradation, jpeg format is usually the best option for quick transmission; for computer-generated images (with large fields of single colors), gif is often better. Get more information on our Modem Friendly Design page.

  7. Everything is copyrighted under US copyright law that appears in print, even without explicit copyright notice. If you intend to use a graphic or information from someone else's pages, please check with them to obtain permission first, unless explicit permission is granted on the page. For more information, see the LDSMN Standards Guide.

  8. Don't use the church logo. Both the new and old logos of the Church, and the name of the Church are registered trademarks. While use of the name to refer to the Church is not per se trademark infringement, implied official statements made under that name may be prosecutable. Be careful to indicate that statements made on your page are not intended as official doctrine or policy of the Church.

    It is a good idea to add a disclaimer similar to what we use (see the bottom of this page).

  9. Don't duplicate another mission page. Competing mission pages drain resources and alumni from each other. If you have concerns about the way your mission's web page is maintained, then contact that page's maintainer to offer to help them with their site. If your site appears to be abandoned or you get no response, let our support team know at support@mission.net.

  10. Don't put personal items on your mission alumni home page. While your mission page will inevitably have touches that reflect your own personality, it should not serve double duty as your personal home page. RMs look at mission pages as places to congregate and catch up with old companions--they aren't looking for your baby or wedding pictures, your CV, or your political views. Create a separate personal home page for those things and have a link to it instead.

  11. Don't sell things on your mission page. This is just a matter of good taste. Just as you don't go to Elders Quorum or Relief Society to hear a presentation on the latest multi-level marketing scam, and just as you don't want your home teachers to come by selling products instead of teaching a lesson, so it is that RMs visiting your page shouldn't have to be inundated with advertising--no matter how good the product you sell is. Selling product on a Mission site is a violation of the LDSMN Standards.

  12. Don't use the terms official or unofficial on your page. Saying that your page is "official" is dishonest, and saying that your page is "unofficial" is confusing, because there are no official pages. There is no reason to even indicate "official" or "unofficial" on our pages.

  13. Don't say your page is under construction. This is one of the most common and worst practices on the web. Think about it: if your page isn't under construction, what is it? Abandoned. If you have a strong urge to tell people you're still working on your page, put a note saying "Last updated on...". Like "official" or "unofficial", the term "under construction" is entirely superfluous.

  14. Don't advertise "vaporware". Vaporware consists of features which overpromise and underdeliver. If you don't have a page or feature ready to deliver, don't say that you will. You will find that maintaining a Mission page is hard work and that you can't do it every day. Give yourself ample time to create pages and announce them when you're ready to show them.

  15. Don't create a page you don't plan to maintain. There is no sense in creating an unmaintained page. It wastes the time of other alumni in your mission, who could be creating working on a better, but who, in deference to yours, wait. If you already maintain a mission alumni page and you are no longer able to maintain it, contact the LDS Mission Network support team to arrange an archiving of your page and an interim maintainer.

  16. Don't expect that other people will do your work for you. Several people have started mission pages in which they've expected that people would simply submit all the information they needed. It doesn't work that way. Experience has shown that the person responsible for page will also be responsible for creating well over 90% of the content of the page -- either through tracking it down at libraries, etc., or by providing an explicit gathering mechanism (e.g. creating forms to gather e-mail addresses). Almost no content is ever sent from other RMs in a format that it can be just added to the page without modification.

  17. Give people ample opportunity to talk back. Your alumni are one of your best sources for new information about your mission. If they feel you're missing something, or if they feel something is superfluous, they'll tell you. Unless you were mission historian, chances are you'll need other RMs' submissions to make a complete page.

  18. Respond quickly to feedback. If you're going to be away from your page for days, weeks, or months, tell your readers! Better still, if you're going to be away that long, recruit someone to manage your page.

  19. Use an automated alumni/profile database. Hand-editing a page for each of your alumni gets old, FAST. The LDSMN has developed some excellent databases that ease the work load and allow alumni to edit their own information at their leisure. Plus, as an administrator of your site, you can approve, edit, and delete any profiles that are entered. You can find the LDSMN automated databases in the Maintainer section. To get help setting up your database, contact support@mission.net.

  20. Provide clear, consistent navigation. Nothing is more irritating than getting lost on a Web site, with no clue where you are and no clear way out. If you use graphics to provide navigation, make sure you have <alt> tags with the navigation name inside. In addition, provide text navigation on your page (traditionally on the bottom).

  21. Provide diverse content. RMs, parents, pre-missionaries, and local members will all be using your site. Tailor your site to fit their needs. Among the items found on most successful mission web sites are:
    • RM E-mail addresses
    • Mission presidents
    • Mission news
    • Reunion information
    • Maps
    • Vocabulary
    • Mission song
    • Recipes/local color
    • Local addresses
    • History and stories
    • Links to country/state guides
    • Links to LDS pages

  22. Be a good publicist. No one will care about your page, if they have to stumble randomly upon it to find it. This is one of the advantages in registering with the LDS Mission Network. Most of your publicity is handled right here. To get more information about listing your site on major search engines, optimizing your site with META tags, keywords, etc., please see our Maintainer section.

Page Author: R. Craig Harman - Send Feedback
Last Updated: Thu Sep 5 11:38:49 2002
Visited at least 1 times since Fri Jun 16 15:05:18 2000.