Announcing Our Parish Website Winners!

We received so many wonderful entries to our Catholic Parish Website of the Year contest.  It wasn’t an easy decision, but thanks to our judge’s panel we are thrilled to announce this year’s winners.  This year’s winners are:

1st Place
Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community
, Wayzata, MN

An exceptional example of an engaging parish website. Whether I am a visitor, parishioner, or parent of a school child, all the information I need is easily accessible within a beautiful design.

Their site was designed by Carson Weber, CarsonW.com, using Drupal and the content is managed by Nicole Mamura. Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community will receive a $500 award from LPi as part of their recognition.  Well done!

 2nd Place
Saint Aloysius
, Jackson, NJ

Modern and clean graphics, easy navigation, and up-to-date, useful content landed this website in second place. Very welcoming to prospective parishioners, and also has a great example of a Pastor’s Blog!  Ken Perry both created and maintains the site’s content. The website runs on Expression Engine.

 

3rd Place
Espiritu Santo Catholic Church
, Safety Harbor, FL

Immediately you know this is a church that is taking their online ministry seriously. Lots of great information, custom graphics and engaging content to build their faith community online.

Brian Jones is responsible for design and maintenance of the site which uses Joomla.

 

 

Each of our winners will receive a plaque for their parish office, and the first place winner will receive a $500 donation from Liturgical Publications.  As special thanks to our judge’s panel, they will receive a CatholicTechTalk polo shirt for their efforts in helping select the winner.

We would like to thank everyone who submitted a contest entry, as well as all church website administrators, developers, and designers for your hard work and dedication to bringing the Gospel to the digital world.  You did not make this an easy decision.  There are a lot of wonderful parish websites out there.

God Bless!

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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.
  • Carson Weber

    W00t!

  • Carson Weber

    Joe, thanks so much for your kind words and for awarding HNOJ.org first place.  I’m truly honored.  http://CarsonW.com

    • http://www.catholictechtalk.com/ Joe Luedtke

      Carson, well deserved. There were a lot of well deserving sites out there, but yours made it to the top. One quick explanation on how we made our decision. This was done really by a ‘jury of your peers’. After multiple judges whittled down our 69 entries to our semi-finalists, every judge reviewed and rated each semi-finalist site on a scale of 100 against 5 key categories. Each sites rating by all judges was then totaled and the one with the high score ‘won’. There were indeed many very good websites out there, but yours ended up with the highest score. Well done!

  • http://twitter.com/CatholicMeme Catholic @BarbaraKB

    ((pssst)) catholic techies: you might want to spell check “announcing” in your title for post above. ((crawls back into her marketing hole… ))

    • Joe

       Barbara, in true techie fashion, I’ll blame the limitations of WordPress and its ability to easily spellcheck a post’s title.  That seems so much better than blaming my lack of attention to the details.  Thank you!

  • http://catholicservant.com Craig Berry

    Congrats Carson. You did an excellent job. I’m sure Nicole and the entire parish are very happy with your work.

    To echo Joe’s comments, there were some very good finalists. It’s encouraging to see how much progress is being made in creating engaging websites for parishes.

  • Carrolfencil

    Catholic Parish Website of the Year?

    Well, after all of the hype on your site about encouraging
    amateur’s as well as professionals to enter this competition, I could not find
    a SINGLE amateur entry that made the final list?  What is the purpose and spirit of this
    completion? Promote professional website designers who are paid $1000’s of
    dollars to come up with glossy, commercial looking sites or
    recognize the volunteers who do it for free and achieve the same results for
    their religious Catholic parishes?  Surely some or
    more amateur’s were competitive?

    Our website (www.stemerys.com)
    was FREE to our small parish and has been a solid success. Our parishioners get
    the parish information they need, love the personalized coverage of events and
    history, enjoy the ‘base’ photo presentation of St. Emery’s beautiful European
    style historic Church, which they are truly proud, and enjoy continuous updates. 

    Couple of our amateur parishioners with cameras, amateur writers, some
    with computer experience designed this site on a totally free-volunteer basic
    and it is also maintained free of charge as well.

    Again, what is the goal/spirit of this completion?

    Carroll

    • http://www.catholictechtalk.com/ Joe Luedtke

       Carroll, I apologize if the contest implied it was open to ‘amateur’ websites only.  I double-checked the information we published and I can see how you may have interpreted it that way, but we definitely did not use the word ‘amateur’, nor ‘free’, nor was cost one of the published categories the judges used to rate the websites.

      In hindsight, we perhaps should of been more clear, but I think the judging criteria is sound.  In this day and age, I don’t think ‘free’ should be necessarily a tremendous positive.  On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve seen some very expensive church websites that never succeeded and would have to be considered a failure.  Even if a church pays for a good design, they need to spend considerable effort laying out the content and maintaining the content to keep the site fresh.  We judged the site not only on its design, but its content.  It takes a considerable amount of ongoing work by staff and volunteers to maintain even the most expensively designed website.

      Your website is fine example of a good parish website and for that you and the rest of the staff at St. Emery should be commended.  The fact that your church has a set of passionate volunteers maintaining this site suggests to me that you have a strong faith community which is wonderful.  You should be proud of your efforts.

      The goal of this competition was two-fold:  to highlight good parish websites that can serve as a model for other parishes to emulate as well as recognize the hard work done by staff and volunteers to build and maintain the site. 

      You are right that the winners probably did have their sites ‘professionally’ designed, but neither you nor I know how much they paid for them.  If we added cost to the evaluation criteria, how would we handle the church who happens to have a professional website designer as a parishioner who volunteers their time?  Even with a ‘professional’ design there’s a considerable amount of work, first in building the case for the investing the money, lobbying the Finance Committee to then spend the money, managing the project, and then once its done, then maintaining the content and enhancing the site over time.  Is a church that takes this approach any more or less deserving?

      Cost and amateur vs professional would be difficult to add to the equation, but is something we’ll consider in next year’s contest planning.  We will definitely make it more clear in next year’s contest.

      I appreciate your feedback.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Jones/1238060264 Brian Jones

      Hi Carroll, 
      Our parish website came in 3rd and I am un unpaid volunteer who designed this website using the free Open Source Joomla! CMS, a very inexpensive template (RocketTheme Paradox), and a few inexpensive Joomla! estensions.  Most of our content came from the ministry heads and volunteer organizations.  We had a little paid help at the beginning with a few of the template tweaks but the rest was alot of hard work, experimentation, and utilizing my engineering background (chip design, not web design).

      I was surprised our site placed this highly and the top two sites are truly amazing.  I just wanted to let you know that all the winners weren’t professionals.  Good luck with your website and God Bless.

      Brian

      • Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF

         Brian, It’s wonderful to have volunteers like you who really are invested in parish communications. 

    • Email

      Carroll, our Catholic parishes readily spend tens of thousands of dollars for sacred art, stained glass windows, carefully hand-carved altars, and lawn care, but yet, when it comes to effectively communicating via the New Media, parishes often balk at spending any money for professional consultation, design, development, and upgrades. Rather, they often cringe at spending any money in this realm and rely upon volunteer efforts. I believe that the parish that employs a highly skilled and professional *Catholic* web developer to craft their new media presence should be commended as a wise steward and supporter of the Catholic arts. As a Catholic New Media professional, I am a huge proponent of having parishes outsourcing new media talent, just as they would outsource professionals readily should they require a new church, complete with nave, vestibule, sanctuary apse, et al.

    • Travis Gear

      I think that Carson hit the nail on the head.  I work almost exclusively with Catholic parishes and organizations doing website design, and I have seen the disproportion given to all other areas outside of the website at so many parishes.  I often use the example of the bulletin: Parishes cringe at the idea of letting a volunteer be “in charge” of the bulletin, but they are more than happy to hand the website over to volunteers.

      Carroll – what you have to realize is that there are very affordable options to provide professional work for your parish website.  Just check out this blog! http://catholictechtalk.com/website-builders/  Many of these options are “professional,” but are also authentically Catholic, and VERY affordable, even for small parishes.

  • Sara Kraft

    Carroll,

    You are so blessed to have dedicated volunteers that can help with your parish website!

    I’ve worked as Communications Coordinator for a parish of 1600 families for 4 1/2 years.  Our first site (the one I inherited when I was hired) was made in several parishioners’ basement.  It only used html, and security was an issue as it was overrun by hackers (with anti-Catholic messages) several times.  Our volunteers who helped with the site were very devoted, but because of family, job, and other responsibilities couldn’t drop everything when the site went down to help fix.

    Ultimately, our pastor determined it made the most sense to hire a professional to design our site, such that I was able to update it on a moment’s notice.  Since that time, we’ve had no issues with security.

    For our specific parish, hiring a talented web designer was definitely the correct way to go.  I’ve also heard from numerous parishioners and school families how much our communications have improved since our new site.  In our specific situation, with a parish of 1600 families and 1 priest, this is vital.

    However, the longer I work in the church, the more I realize there’s no one solution that works best for each parish.  Kudos to you and your church for determining what works best for you.

  • bwest2

    I was delightfully surprised by all of the entries that passed before me.  The “judging” became very very difficult.  What really stood out to me is the local touch.  Sure, it is easy to say have this model for a website that includes xyz content and menu items.  But what makes that model come to life is the local piece.  So many of the websites that were entered truly bring that seemingly simple saying of “come and see” to life.  Great great job to everyone, and keep up the stellar work so many parishes are doing.  

  • http://www.hnoj.org/ Nicole Mamura

    We at Holy Name of Jesus are truly honored by this recognition as well. It’s exciting to see so many parishes dedicated to keeping their communities engaged and informed through new media. Thank you to all the judges who selected us, and blessings to all parishes who entered this contest–I looked at all the finalists and can see why it was not an easy decision! God bless all of you for the work you do each day for our Church.

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