The 5 Best Diocesan Websites

A diocesan Cathedral is, in many ways, the public face of the local Church. Passers-by are reminded of Christ’s Presence in their midst, and it lifts their minds and hearts to things of Heaven. What about a website?

It may not lift one up to Heaven – but a well-built diocesan website can be an integral part of a communications strategy. It also reflects how much importance is placed on furthering Christ’s mission to “teach ye all nations.” In a world that increasingly seeks answers to eternal questions via the Internet, it’s imperative that the Church establish her presence on the “Digital Continent”.

I’ve put together a list of 5 Diocesan websites that, in my opinion, are currently the ‘best’ at delivering the goods.

Criteria I used in the selection process:

  • Design and layout based on current industry standard practices.
  • Inclusion of social media.
  • Ease of navigation.
  • SERP (Search Engine Results Page) placement.

No particular order. Click thumbnails for larger images:

Archdiocese of Boston

Kudos for the non-standard naming convention – BostonCatholic.com.

Archdiocese of St. Louis

Easy to find social networks, and the drop-down navigation menu is stellar.

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

So what if it’s my home diocese? :) Nice looking and lots of useful content on home page without being too busy.

Diocese of Trenton

Best looking of the bunch. Great visual balance and solid color choices.

Diocese of Scranton

Calming color choice, and one of the best story rotators.

Honorable Mention – Archdiocese of Military Services, USA

Clean. Simple. Effective.

Parting Thoughts

Obviously, it’s a subjective list, and only 2 years ago, it would’ve looked very different. In another 2 years? All bets are off.

Did I miss something? Agree or disagree with my choices? Sound off in the comments…

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Author:Craig Berry

Craig Berry is a Catholic web developer and musician.
Connect with him online.
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-L-Gray/100001385030074 David L. Gray

    Thanks for this list Craig! I thought Boston had one of the best content designs for a religious organization on the entire web for now.  But I truly appreciated how Trenton and St. Louis immediately showed how racially diverse the Catholic Church is.

    David L. Gray
    http://www.davidlgray.info

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig

     Thanks for the kind comment David. For the most part, most diocesan sites that I’ve come across seem to make an effort to showcase their diversity. Some even offer multiple translations.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508087737 Ashley Collins

    This was great! Just to add my comment that I wrote on the Facebook post, I’m beginning to work in my own diocese to help rejuvinate parish websites. I see it as a vital evangelization tool as well as helping to bring the curent parish community closer together. I can’t wait for the day that Chicago’s site updates (they’re system is awful, I’ve worked with it!) to a more modern and engaging site. It’s time for Catholics to be leading the way in the digital age! 

    Ashley Collins
    http://www.peterandpaulministries.com

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig

      Thanks Ashely. Hey, good luck with your endeavor! I really like your site…Drupal Gardens is a great choice…I think I’ve still got an account over there…when I have time I’ll revisit ;)

  • Tanner

    Great article Craig I really enjoyed it.  For people that are interested in getting some help check out what is coming from eCatholicchurches.com.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FsocmX4LzA

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig

      Thanks Tanner.

      eCatholicChurches.com looks like a good solution. 

  • Elizabeth

    Thanks for the mention, Craig!
    Elizabeth Westhoff,
    Director of Marketing
    Archdiocese of St. Louis

  • http://twitter.com/NewMediaCathlic William Ignatius

    Great post. I shared on on the New Media Catholic Facebook page….. http://www.facebook.com/NewMediaCatholic

  • ddb

    Trenton looks great. They others look stale, maybe five years old. You should check our my Archdiocese new website http://www.catholiccincinnati.org

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

      Yep…saw it when I was selecting. Very nice…and probably the most progressive looking (in the design sense!). But…I thought it had too much whitespace.  And no visual element really anchored it for me.

      I might’ve tried a red gradient instead of the wheat around the nav bar. Then reverse the ‘Archdiocese of Cincinatti’ to white. Kind of like … http://gigaom.com/collaboration/ – see how they have the strong visual above the fold.

      I’d also revisit whether it needs a border around the main body wrapper. 

      Anyways…small nit-picking…it’s really a nice site…thanks for the suggestion!

  • http://twitter.com/carsonweber Carson Weber

    Check out Sioux Falls at http://sfcatholic.org

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig

      @twitter-6265032:disqus 
      Hey, great site. 

      One of my criteria when judging was SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).

      It may seem a bit arbitrary, but when I search ‘diocese of’ they are not in the first 10 SERP’s. Of course, YMMV, Google ‘tunes’ their algo on many criteria (physical location, internet history, etc.). 

      Since I’m fairly close to that Diocese (Twin Cities, MN), I’m surprised they’re not showing well in the SERP’s. My guess is that this is a recent re-design, and the previous site was either a different domain or not SEO-friendly. Time cures all ills – well, that and a well-designed site like they have now.

      Thanks for the tip,
      Craig

    • http://catholicservant.com Craig

      FWIW…If I’d found it sooner, it probably would’ve landed in the top 5. ;)

  • Anton Casta

    Next time ’round, loop up, north that is, to Canada. The new evangelization is borderless right? Here are two for starters: http://saintcd.com and http://www.rcav.org/

  • http://www.spinxwebdesign.com/ web designer

    These are really interesting website which includes great web designing. I am totally agreed with you. As I have seen all websites, there are not requiring anything to change into them.

  • Bantu Aqwar

    really great resource, I have been given atask to work on a website that was last updated sometimes when the year started. it looks horrible to be honest, and just wanted to see what othwer church websites looks like,and i have been inspired and provoked to put all my creativity.
    Thanks craig.