New Online Looks for Two Ministries

Maria Hayes Around the Province

Websites are frequently redesigned to optimize a user’s experience, and HNP ministries are no exception. St. Anthony Shrine in Boston and St. Paul’s Parish in Wilmington, Del., have recently reshaped and added new features to their websites to make information more accessible.

When Jim McIntosh, OFM, was first assigned to St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, and appointed director of information technology, he found the website to be old and static, visually cluttered and confusing to navigate. The first step to making changes was converting the website to WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems. WordPress gave the shrine’s staff the ability to edit web pages themselves, without using a web developer or consultant.

“We also instituted a system where new posts to the website were automatically cross-posted to both Facebook and Twitter,” Jim said. “Finally, we made it easy for people to donate via PayPal, and to buy Mass cards and CDs in the shrine’s ‘store.’”

The new website, made live in February, reflects two recent trends in website design — adapted design and layered information. Adapted design allows the website to detect what device — desktop computer, tablet, smartphone and the like — the website is being viewed on, so the content can reformat to fit different screen sizes.

“Only 60 percent of the current visitors to the shrine’s website use desktop computers,” Jim said. “30 percent use cell phones and 10 percent use tablets. Having an adaptive design for our website was critical.”

The website also layers information into easy-to-follow sections, creating a better user experience.

User experience also prompted Todd Carpenter, OFM, pastor of St. Paul Parish, Wilmington, to look for a new website host after he discovered the previous service was not compatible with Windows 8.

“Through a Web search, I found eCatholic, which offers websites to Catholic churches, schools and organizations,” he said. “They have many designs to choose from that are customizable and easy to update. The service is not free, but pricing is minimal.”

The new parish website is more professional looking than the previous and offers many more options, such as the ability to include video, according to Todd. The site now features several videos produced by the Province’s Franciscan Vocation Ministry as well as videos from the parish. Each ministry has its own page, and Todd is working to make the site more bilingual by including Spanish text.

“Our previous website had more English,” said Todd. “This one is more evenly split to be of use to more parishioners. I’m very pleased, and several parishioners have also commented how much they like it.”

Less than a year ago, the English-speaking Conference launched a website and created social media accounts to better connect provinces. Social media use has grown around Holy Name Province, with more ministries creating accounts to engage the more than two billion people using Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

 Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.