Speaking of Clover.

Echo is now available for Android

We’re excited to announce that the Echo Prayer app is now available for Android! Thank you to everyone who has been using the app for the past couple weeks in beta – it helped us find and squash a few more last bugs.

In addition to the new Android launch, we also have another milestone to announce: 10,000 users! It’s been awesome to see the momentum around the app and to hear from many of you that it’s been helping you pray.

Now that the app is available for the vast majority of smart phones, it might be a great time to share it with friends if you haven’t already. You can get the app or learn more at www.echoprayer.com or on Echo’s Facebook or Twitter.

Echo is now available for Android

Coming Soon: Echo for Android

If you’ve been following Echo on Facebook or Twitter, you heard about this a few days ago, but we wanted to announce it here as well… Our new Echo Prayer app will be available on Android devices very soon!

Thanks to a great Android developer who contacted us even before the iPhone version was launched, this new version came together much more quickly than we expected.

In just a few more days we’ll release a beta version for anyone who wants early access. Follow Echo on one of our social media accounts to hear about it when it comes out. We’re so excited to have Echo on both platforms so an even wider group of people will be able to benefit from it!

Coming Soon: Echo for Android

Clover Sites 3: Other Updates

Over the last month, we spent some time talking about how we’ve approached section management, text editing, and the media player. Hopefully it’s been helpful for you to go behind the scenes and see how we plan and create our products.

In addition to the things we’ve written posts about, we’ve also been working a lot on other areas of CS3. Here’s just a few highlights:

Photo Editor

  • If you’ve used the current version in Clover Sites, you’re going to love all the improvements we’re making with CS3. The images you add will now “snap” to the image area in the photo editor for easier alignment. We’ve also added keyboard shortcuts to nudge photos around, and of course, have been working on retina support for all images so your content looks beautiful on all screens.

Dashboard

  • This is getting a major overhaul with the new version, and will allow you to add multiple users who can edit your site, along with giving you access to multiple sites with one login! There are more features in the works for the dashboard after the initial launch, like a whole suite of notifications you can get when things happen, and extending the dashboard to include your other Clover products like Clover Donations.

Site Designs

  • Recently we’ve been doing a lot of work on the responsive layouts for phones, tablets, and other devices, and taking care of lots of fine-tuning to make sure your site will look great anywhere your people view it.

Dev Ops

  • We did a ton of work on the back end to optimize everything, increase security, and just make things faster all around. It’s all the stuff behind the scenes, and it gets really technical really fast, but it’s worth mentioning because it makes the whole experience a lot better for you and your people, and makes everything more reliable and speedy.

We’re really excited about these updates and would love to know what you think. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or if there are other features you’d like to hear more about in our next group of updates!

Clover Sites 3: Media Player Improvements

In addition to section management and text editing, there is another major feature in Clover Sites 3 that recently saw a bit of an overhaul: The media player.

In fact, we completely redesigned the entire layout and overall experience, including the way you’ll add new media, and the media player itself.

For reference, here’s a shot of what the CS3 Media Player was originally going to look like:

However, as we starting interacting with the media player a bit in context of the Alpha build we developed, we decided we wanted to make the experience even better and provide a more modern approach to putting your audio and video online. So we did that.

We revisited everything about the media player, and looked more deeply at the way our customers currently use it. We came up with a cleaner, simplified, and more responsive-friendly layout that will greatly improve things both for you as you post media, and for your people as they browse, view, and listen.

The new “add media” process is a huge leap forward, allowing you to focus completely on your content as you add audio or video – putting your message center stage. This new design also allows us to better scale the experience so we can add even more features for you in the future – like having both audio and video versions of a sermon available in one media item. On top of all of that, it also lays a lot of the groundwork for the Calendar and Forms sections which will be coming after our initial launch, unifying that experience so you don’t have to learn another way of doing things once those are ready!

There’s a lot more we could say about this, but it might just better if we show you:

New Media Section

 

Anthem-Site-Design-largevideo

Media-Section-Editor---New3

 

Media-Section-Editor---New4

Media-Section-Editor---New5

Bottom line? This new look and editing experience makes it even easier for you to share your message and get your content to your people, wherever they are.

Clover Sites 3: Text Editing

Editing text on your website may not seem as exciting as bigger features like section management or the media player (which we’ll talk about next week). But making a great text editor is incredibly important… and harder than it might seem. Here’s a little peek at the process behind how we approached this for Clover Sites 3:

For starters, the experience a text editor offers in a website content management system (CMS) can make or break the entire editing experience. And it’s one of those pieces that website solutions don’t pay that much attention to in most cases. As a result, actually using it to write or edit text ends up being a big headache and in some cases can be the most buggy piece of the product for the customers to use. Whether it’s due to poor craftsmanship or simply trying to force-fit a plug and play, off-the-shelf solution to save a bit of time, either way, it’s the end user – the customer – that suffers for it.

Because of how much the web has progressed over the years, when we first started to design the tool that would handle creating and editing all the text anywhere it appears in Clover Sites 3, we thought we would give an open-source tool a try. With all the work put into some of the tools out there, we were hopeful that we could use something that was already developed. This would save us development time and ideally provide a robust editor.

So, we spent some time researching all the available tools out there. We then selected one we thought would fit great, and began using it as a starting point, and also started customizing it a lot to make it really work with Clover and the Greenhouse editing experience. However, as we got further and further into it, we realized we were customizing it way more than we thought we would have to.

Long story short, after finding something we thought would be great, and working through a lot of code to try to make it fit beautifully within the new Greenhouse, we ended up seeing that it just wasn’t ever going to be the right fit. So, we took a version of our own that we had built from scratch and decided to use that instead and really make something amazing.

The justification was this. Text makes up such a large portion of anyone’s website, and we really want to make that whole experience flawless so the tool itself becomes secondary to your content, and it just simply works. We think we’ve done that with the new text editing experience and we can’t wait for you to try it.

And of course, as with everything there’s a lot more we could say about how this will all work. We could talk about how you’ll have simplified controls automatically when in easy mode, so things are as clean and uncluttered as possible. And how if you toggle to advanced mode you’ll get additional options to really customize everything, down to line height, inline images, and even the HTML source if you’re inclined to tinker ;) And of course you’ll have the ability to change fonts, text size, and colors – even on a word by word basis if you really want (though we’d probably suggest keeping it a bit more simple for those who have to read what you write).

Bottom line? The text editor is one of those things you probably won’t ever think about when using the new Greenhouse, and that’s exactly the way it should be. A powerfully simple editing experience that just works and doesn’t get in your way.

Ending Soon! Clover Sites Summer Promotion

Our Summer Promotion with Proclaim is in full swing, but there’s just two weeks left!

To recap, here’s how it works:
1. Get $100 off any new website during the month of July using this special link: http://www.cloversites.com/r/proclaim

2. We’ll be giving away a free website through Proclaim’s Summer of Giveaways at the end of the month, along with a bunch of other great things from them (see below for all the details). And, if you purchase a Clover website this month and end up winning the giveaway, we’ll fully refund your purchase price! If you haven’t yet, enter to win right here, and help spread the word!

3. Last but not least, thanks to Proclaim, you can try out their church presentation software for a full 3 months – completely free – so you can see if it’s a good fit for your church or ministry. To take advantage of this, simply use this link when you sign up for Proclaim: proclaimonline.com/clover


Questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email: (805) 527-8900 or curious@cloversites.com

Clover Sites 3: Section Management

You may remember a post we wrote a few weeks back, introducing the idea of Section-based Editing in the new Greenhouse for Clover Sites 3. If you missed it, check out the post for more of those details.

The way we designed it initially seemed right for a lot of reasons. But recently, after we started testing and actually using the initial version in the Greenhouse, we quickly saw that it could be a lot better. So, we decided to take a step back and revisit the design to help make things much simpler.

The main issue we saw was that the whole experience felt a bit too complicated and technical. When you switched to advanced mode in the Greenhouse (which is how you’ll enable section management), there were a lot of options and buttons that you had to navigate.

Honestly, it was still probably simpler than many other editing systems we’ve seen, but it wasn’t the level of simplicity and ease that you would expect from Clover.

So we’ve made it much better.



Here is a view of the old version
, with all the possible actions you could take to add, reorder, edit and delete sections:

Main-Section-Editing-old



The New Design

Ultimately, we decided to make section management its own mode that can be accessed from the new site panel editor. Along with that, we moved all section editing into a full-screen editor, so it makes it easier to focus on your content as you edit the different sections on your page. As you’ll see below, this is an idea of the way it will work with the new design, which is a huge leap forward from what we originally imagined:

Section-Editing-Mode1

Bottom line? Now, adding, deleting, and reordering sections will be much more focused, allowing for easier, less intimidating management. And to be quite honest – it makes doing it a lot more fun.

Have any questions or thoughts about this? Let us know in the comments!

July Updates: CS3 & New Hires

Hey everybody!

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to have a series of blog posts that dive a bit more into our process in creating Clover Sites 3. We’ll also show you some areas we’ve recently redesigned to make the experience even better. We’ll have posts about section management, text editing, the media player, and more.

But before we get into that, we wanted to let you know that in general, there’s been a whole lot going on.

One of the biggest things we wanted to tell you about is that we’ve added quite a few new people to our team just over the last month or so, and we’re expecting a few more to join us at the end of the Summer.

Jenna became a part of our team early on in June, and has been an incredible help to me since day 1. She’s been taking over a ton of things on the operations side of my role, to help me focus on Clover Sites 3 in this intense season of product development.

Trevor joined us just a few weeks ago as yet another full-time web developer dedicated to building Clover Sites 3. He’s already been diving into some core optimizations and tools – things like CS3 site publishing and reverting, file storage and security, as well as moving into the initial pieces of the site migration tool which will allow you to move from current Clover Sites to CS3.

During this time, we also brought on Noah, a web development intern currently pursuing his degree in Computer Science. He’s already been a big help in building some updates for Clover Donations, as well as starting work on some other internal tools we’ve wanted for a long time.

In just a couple weeks, Marcelo will be joining us as a full-time designer. He’ll be helping us continue to craft awesome, beautiful things. And he’ll be working closely with our development team to ensure designs and the holistic experience for CS3 is pixel-perfect and smooth.

At the beginning of August, we’re welcoming Scott to our team, as the new Customer Relations Manager. We already have an incredible customer service team, and Scott is going to not only continue that legacy, but also help lead the vision – developing more resources and better ways we can serve and be available to our customers. I know we keep teasing it, but we will have more information on some of the things we’re working on in this area in the next month or so. We’re really excited about it.

Finally, along with some of the updates to our Customer Relations team, we have a few available positions opening up – both part-time and full time to serve our customers. So if you think you might be a fit and would love to be a part of our team, just email jobs@cloversites.com with your resume and cover letter. We look forward to hearing from you!

All of the new members of our team are focused on one goal: Clover Sites 3. This has already been a long season of investing in this new product, and we our continuing to put more resources behind it to make it happen as soon as possible!

- Eric

P.S. In case you missed it, we just launched our Summer Promotion (in partnership with Proclaim Church Presentation Software). You have the chance to get $100 off a new website and can enter to win a bunch of prizes. Check it out and enter to win!

Summer Promotion 2014 - With Proclaim

Last Summer, we did a special promotion and had a lot of fun with it.

So, we decided to do something again this year, but we wanted to change it up a bit. We were talking to our friends over at Proclaim, (made by the people who brought us Logos Bible Software) and decided to join them for the month of July for this year’s Summer promo. We couldn’t be more excited about it and want to quickly tell you how this is going to work.

First things first. For the whole month of July, we’ll give you $100 off any Clover website purchased when you use this special  link for friends of Proclaim: http://www.cloversites.com/r/proclaim

Also, we’re going to be giving away a free website as part of Proclaim’s summer of giveaways, along with a bunch of other great things from them (see below for all the details). And, if you purchase a Clover website this month and end up winning the giveaway, we’ll fully refund your purchase price!

The good news is, even if you don’t win the major prize, you can still get $100 off a brand new website, and thanks to Proclaim, you can try out their church presentation software for a full 3 months – completely free – so you can see if it’s a good fit for your church or ministry. Just use this link to sign up and start checking out Proclaim: proclaimonline.com/clover


Questions? Give us a call or shoot us an email: (805) 527-8900 or curious@cloversites.com

Speaking of Blogs…

It’s been a little over a month now since we started posting regular updates again (at least one or two a week). And so it seemed like a good time to write a quick post about our blog and get your thoughts and feedback on what you’ve seen so far.

The biggest thing we heard from all of you earlier this year, was that you just wanted to know more of what was going on at Clover – especially in relation to Clover Sites 3. Additionally, we wanted to do a better job of communicating and engaging more frequently with everyone, so we could answer your questions and be more transparent than ever with our process.

So far, that’s been our primary focus, and updates about our progress and about Clover Sites 3 will continue to drive a lot of our updates here on Speaking of Clover.

But beyond that, we’re interested to hear your thoughts so far. Specifically, are the kinds of updates and posts we’ve been writing helpful to you? Are there other things you’d like to know? And lastly, if you follow other blogs, which ones do you follow and what do you like most about them?

Looking forward to getting your thoughts!

P.S. – We’ve been wanting to update our blog design for a long time, to make things more readable and friendly for mobile. We’re finally in the process of making that happen and we plan to roll out the new design later this month. Here’s a sneak peek at the new look for those of you who might enjoy it!

A quick peek at the new design for Speaking of Clover