On May 28 the Archdiocese of Denver introduces its all-new, completely redesigned website www.archden.org. The site features all of the useful information visitors typically seek online, plus one benefit they may not have expected: God’s presence.
“There can be the danger for a diocesan or parish website to focus on the utility of a site and forget that it can also be a great evangelization tool,” explained Karna Swanson, director of communication for the archdiocese. “It was important to us to make sure that we were using this website not only as a place to offer information … but that it’s also a place where you can find Christ.
“We wanted to make sure there were elements in the website that lead you to a deeper relationship with Christ.”
Swanson and the development team aimed to do so by providing multimedia formats including audio and video, prominent images, the ability to share information easily through social media, and establishing a platform that is 100 percent responsive, meaning the design automatically adjusts to any screen size including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
“The landscape of the Web has changed significantly over the last several years,” said David Hazen, associate director of communications. “And it’s been more than five years since our last redesign.”
People aren’t just experiencing the Web at their desks, he continued, but on their tablets at the breakfast table, and on their phones, and everywhere else.
“Our audience is not just in the pews but on the digital continent,” Hazen said. “Furthermore the Word was made flesh and dwells among us, so doesn’t it make sense that we would want to share the Incarnation wherever people are, wherever they’re looking for answers to questions, wherever they’re looking to connect with other people, wherever they’re seeking the true or good or beautiful. We should be there to present the same because that is who Christ is, and that is the mission he gives us.”
The site was built on a WordPress platform by the South Carolina-based Web design and development team Fivable, the same agency that designed the Denver Catholic Register website, www.DenverCatholicRegister.org, launched last November.
The new archden.org has many of the resources of the existing archden.org, plus new and enhanced features including: Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s page with his homily podcast, the archbishop’s columns, letters, other writings and Twitter feed; a parish locator with key information such as Mass and confession times, as well as maps and directions to each church; a school locator, priest and deacon directories, a custom page for each office and apostolate, an events calendar, multiple contact forms to reach various offices, resources and articles related to youth ministry, sacraments and Church teaching; and a site-specific search engine allowing visitors to find information quickly.
“The new site has all our resources we had in the past,” Hazen said. “But it is also reflects the life of the Church in the Archdiocese of Denver.”
The hope is that the site will match the energy, enthusiasm and vitality of the Catholic community in the archdiocese, Swanson said.
“This is such a vibrant archdiocese with so many initiatives, apostolic ventures, and so many people who are active in various apostolates,” she said. “And we want to give them the best platform possible to showcase what they’re doing.”
Father Randy Dollins, moderator of the curia and vicar general for the archdiocese, has been impressed with the new design.
“It is fresh and contemporary, just what we need right now,” he said. “It proclaims the Gospel and presents information in a clear way.”
The days when an organization could put up a website and “let it go” are gone, Swanson said.
“Technology is changing every single day,” she continued. “We have been very intentional in creating a flexible website that we are able to change as we need to.”
She encouraged people to visit the site and to start to get to know its features; to join in the journey.
“After the launch we’re going to continue developing it,” she said. “This will always be a work in progress; we’re always going to try and make it better every chance we have, so we’re really open to feedback.”
Feedback can be submitted at www.archden.org on the contact page.
Features of the newly redesigned www.archden.org.
The new design is visually striking by using full-width images to highlight content. The site is now 100 percent responsive, meaning the design automatically adjusts to any screen size including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.
The faithful can stay in touch with Archbishop Aquila by listening to his homily podcast, perusing homily archives, watching video messages, and reading his addresses, columns, statements and letters.
Parish and school locators allow visitors to search for the nearest church or school, complete with a map, directions, Mass and confession times, as well as photos and information about staff. In addition, a new built-in search engine is site-specific allowing for quicker and easier searching.
The flexible, easy-to-update design allows for multimedia platforms including photo albums, audio and video files, podcasts and blog feeds. The new design also allows the site to be continually updated as technology and user needs change.
All media on the new site is integrated with social media for easy sharing of content with Facebook friends and Twitter followers. There are also multiple contact forms allowing visitors to share feedback, questions or other comments with specific offices in the archdiocese.