The Evolution of a Parish Website

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on September 9, 2014

in parish, website

internet background http

©jim/Dollar Photo Club

In August, 2014, St. John Bosco Parish in Parma Heights, Ohio, launched a new website. This was their third website and it reflects the evangelizing approach to web design and content that I have been writing about in past blog posts. In 2012 this was their parish website (Click on the image to see a larger version): SJB1cropped It is like many first parish websites. Many of us started with websites like this.         In the summer of 2013, the parish began a year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary and to mark that year and its events, the 50th Anniversary parish website was launched. During that year, we also activated a parish Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel. As part of the anniversary site, the pastor began to blog weekly using the theme Parish Life: Holiness and Witness. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) The benefit of having the Anniversary site was that we had WordPress stats, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to tell us how people were accessing our various platforms and what they were most interested in. For example, we discovered that one of the most popular pages on the website was the Parish Staff page. On the new Parish Staff page we added staff photos to the contact information to make it more friendly and inviting. Also, the new website prominently features the pastor’s blog posts on the home page. (Click on the image below to see the full website.) The third website is also pro-active in reaching out to visitors, new members, inactive Catholics who may wish to return to the practice of their faith and people who may be seeking one or more sacraments. The message on the homepage is welcome and the goal of the home page content is to answer visitor’s most obvious questions immediately. We also added a simple welcome video to the new site. In designing this new website, we wanted a website that

  • engages and welcomes visitors, new comers and inactive Catholics in a direct and positive way
  • is attractive, easy to navigate and adapts to mobile devices
  • devotes at least 75% of the home page to the care of the “guests”

I enjoyed working with Fr. Lawrence Jurcak, the pastor of St. John Bosco, staff and parishioners in conceptualizing and implementing this new website. Please tell us if you think we achieved our goals. FYI: Damien Sean Sterling of Sterling Web Marketing was the web developer of the newest site.

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Lawrence Jurcak September 9, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Sister Susan, without your shepherding the parish along the way this would never have been so successful. The website, along with our other social media venues, have enabled greater outreach within the parish community. But even more important is the outreach that is now being accomplished beyond the parish. This is really what we were aiming to achieve. All of them are wonderful evangelizing tools! Thanks for your help, your dedication and your ministry to the Church.

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