Things on a Church’s Home Page

Take a look at your Church’s Home Page today.  What’s on it?

In larger companies or design agencies, there’s a formal role on a web project called a User Experience Designer.  This person’s role is to consider the user’s wants, needs, and understanding when they go to your website.  While attending ParishSoft’s User Conference and listening to William Glover, the CIO for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, speak on creating a great website for your church (pdf of the presentation is here), it struck me that we too often don’t consider why a user is going to our website.  If we have the resources, we too often get caught up with adding ‘flash and splash’ as William said, we may think we’re religious, but we’re actually seem more like closet architects as we’re overly enamored with the buildings that comprise our church, and we’re just now getting that we may live in a bilingual world, but too often forget that some of the potential audience of our website may be non-parishioners and non-Catholics.

Look at your website and try and put yourself in a parishioner’s and even a non-parishioner’s shoes.  Why would they come to your website?  What information are they really looking for?  Chances are you have some good content there.  Your church’s mission, its history, even a welcome message is valuable and important content, but is it really what the end user is looking for when they go to the website.  You need to understand your users and put the information they’re really looking for at their fingertips when they first come to your website?

Your challenge is to design your website to meet the needs of its consumers and trying to put yourself in your end user’s shoes may be a great first step forward.

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Author:Joe Luedtke

Joe Luedtke is the Chief Operating Officer for Liturgical Publications (LPi). Joe specializes in Social Media and Web 2.0 and is currently leading LPi’s efforts to move into the on-line world. Joe works for the world's largest and oldest social network, religion, and believes that this social network could benefit tremendously from the the proper use of Internet technologies.
  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    Perfect graphic. 

  • http://www.thereligionteacher.com Jared Dees

    This is awesome. Well said!

  • Brad

    Perfectly said!  Couldn’t agree more.  Here’s a great example I found of what “right looks like” for a parish website http://www.stalphonsuschgo.org/index.html

  • Thomas Sanjurjo

    It’s interesting how we forget this. Making a webpage is entirely about user experience, otherwise, what good is it.

  • http://www.jonathanfsullivan.com/ Jonathan F. Sullivan

    Wait, you actually found parishes that have Mass times on the home page, rather than buried on another page of the site?!

    • Joe Luedtke

      Jonathan, 

      You made me laugh!  Yes, I did, but I make no claims to their accuracy or last updated date!

  • http://youthministryvideos.net Eric Gallagher

    Great points.  Would be good to see an article on things interactive that a parish could do to get their parishioners more involved through the website also.  The site should be become an ‘after hours’ home for them also where they can learn, grow, and pray.  

    Ideas on this would be great!

  • http://acyberpilgrim.org C Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

    Did Bill comment on how Home Page scrolling is normally not helpful on a Home Page?  I love a Home Page that has the “core” of what I’m looking for and I see it without having to scroll! 

  • http://www.cristoenmi.org Ricky Jones

    I think this is something that many designers, myself included, often overlook. Thanks for this post, I will definitely keep this in mind on all my future projects.

  • http://evangelizela.com Ricky Jones

    Any links to good parish websites?

    • Brad

      I’m actually putting a post together on some I’ve found and other’s have suggested.  Should be out in the next day or two.  

      • Lisahendey

        Brad — how funny, the site you linked to is my sister’s parish! She is on the parish council. I’m going to report to her that her website is great!

        • Brad

          Lisa, which one?  Those I chose just really stood out from some suggestions and my own ‘scouting’.  It’s obvious that those particular parishes take the websites seriously, see benefit, and really capitalize on various capabilities to serve their communities and more.   

          • Lisahendey

            She’s at St. Alphonsus in Chicago…

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