Parish App? There’s An App For That!

The other week at work we needed to cancel an event due to weather.  With hundreds of people in from all over the state for this event we needed to get them the information.  We used our website, Facebook, Twitter, and phone calls to get the word out.  It actually worked out very well, but something didn’t quite sit well with me.  What if everyone would have had just one spot to go?  Our Facebook and Twitter feeds are both public but people not using those services won’t see those feeds.

A mobile app was something we had been talking about but we all know the barriers that can exist with app development:

  • You typically need  to find multiple developers for the different platforms and that can be very pricey
  • Maintenance is difficult if not impossible
  • And you still need a good mobile site and keeping that maintained

The bottom line is that it’s been difficult to find one service that is all things to all users that is affordable in the mobile world.  Then came . . . Conduit Mobile!

I remembered seeing ads for this service and figured I’d give it a try that weekend.  In less than a day I had a draft app for our organization that would eventually work on iOS (5.0+), Android, and a Mobile Site version for other mobile platforms that included our Facebook feed, Twitter feed, photos from Facebook albums, Instagram, our news feed, and more.  And the investment . . . under $200 up front and $40/month after that.

Here’s some of the features I like with Conduit and where I see it being a great fit for Parishes:

  • An online visual builder and management of your app.  No software to download, and you can see the layout on the various screens right as you build the app.
  • Build it once easily for all platforms.  You build and they make it available for all platforms.  iOS and Android get native apps that can appear in those app stores and you get a mobile browser version for other platforms (i.e. Windows Phone).
  • A test app prior to deploying initially or major changes.
  • Updates  are simple and the only time you need to resubmit to app stores is for a graphics changes (i.e. new splash screen).  All other changes can be made instantly.  For example, this past weekend we decided to add 2 new sections for an event schedule.  We logged on, added them, clicked “Update”, and all users get those new sections on their app.
  • They are our Developer accounts with Android and Apple.  We have control over our app market displays.

Granted if you need a highly specialized and function specific app, Conduit is probably not the best service.  But for our parishes this is a great platform that serves your parishioners and overcomes barriers of “scattered” social profiles and feeds.

Check it out.  Have you tried other similar services?  What do you recommend?

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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).
  • Carson Weber

    We have found FlockNote.com to be a perfect fit because it is a one-stop solution for disseminating news via Twitter, Facebook, Text Message (which takes care of “push notifications”), and email.

    • Brad West

      Great point, Carson. I like Flocknote a lot and think it’s a great product with tons of possibilities. The only barrier I’ve found is cost.

    • http://craigberrymedia.com/ Craig Berry

      We implemented Flocknote at the Archdiocese of St. Paul for our Rediscover Speaker Series and used it to push out (among other things) cancellations due to inclimate weather. Worked great.

  • Tom Lelyo

    Looks cool – we’re still gauging our Parishioner’s usage/acceptance of this type of technology. So far our 1 year experimentations with Facebook, e-newsletters, and revamping our website have been positive. We don’t use flocknote – although we’ve tried it – this looks like a viable alternative, although $40 for 40 parishioners (guess-timate) may or may not be financially feasible.

    • Brad West

      I’m really like hearing how all of this is being tested and measured. What’s that plan look like overall?

  • Richard Schletty

    First of all, I am not happy that I typed in a long comment, then logged into Disqus so I could post it. My comment disappeared, so I have to retype it now. I was able to build a mobile app with Conduit for my music in about 30 minutes. A problem I am having as I preview it using Conduit Re.vu is that recent Facebook posts are not showing up in the app. Conduit is too expensive for our small, cash-poor parish. Using WordPress, I built a Great Gatherings site at http://www.greatgatherings.org for St. Mary’s (separate from our regular $4/year http://www.stmarystpaul.parishesonline.com web site which is severely limited in file space). I am hosting greatgatherings.org on my own Mac G5 server at home (at no cost to the parish). Alas, I built it but they did not come, due to our failure to promote it aggressively. Pulpit announcements, weekly paper church bulletin, bulletin board flyers and word-of-mouth remain the leading means of communication at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Saint Paul, MN.

    • Brad West

      I had a colleague that had issues with Rev.u for testing on his iPhone. He cleared the cache and all worked fine.

      • Richard Schletty

        Thanks, Brad. I assume you are referring to my browser’s cache. I will try that.

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  • http://craigberrymedia.com/ Craig Berry

    Good suggestion Brad!

  • Jim Mcgovern

    To My Brothers and Sisters in Christ

    I would like to extend a warm invitation to our prayer site http://www.comeaside.com
    Parish sites are strengthened by linking to other suitable ones.

    May Jesus and Mary bless your work.
    Jim Mcgovern STB