Diocese's new website will inform, engage users
After nearly a year of intensive planning, the diocese is preparing to unwrap a new – or more accurately, realigned – user-friendly website that blends the latest in communications technology with the rich tapestry of Catholic tradition.[[In-content Ad]]
Still to be found at the same dioceseoftrenton.org, the new site is set to debut early this year. Visitors to the site will find not only eye-catching visuals that distinguish today’s Internet sites, but the latest in information and communications in an easy-to-navigate format with links to dozens of diocesan departments and related sites, according to Ken Perry, diocesan director of the Office of Web Development and project manager.
The realignment has been a dynamic process, explained Perry, who, along with a core team of diocesan staff, provided direction and guidance to the firm commissioned to design and develop the site. The web technologies company specializing in non-profit software and services, which had already been providing the diocese’s online fundraising program, built the new site using its NetCommunity platform, a resource that manages information and connects users in new ways.
In addition to the core team, the project involved the support of several subcommittees and writing and photography professionals whose work has been used to create the new site. Perry noted the collaborative and multi-dimensional effort, including study and consultation, prayer and reflection, and interaction with focus groups of all ages and backgrounds, all aimed at creating a web presence that mirrored the life of the diocese.
At the same time, the capacity for fresh and expanded content means that the site can be used to provide comprehensive and updated resources for Catholics who want to deepen their faith knowledge and experience. Newcomers who are inquisitive about the Church will find a wealth of educational pieces about Catholicism, introducing them to the faith and inviting them to initiate an ongoing relationship.
Education and Evangelization
“What visitors will find is a site that is very welcoming,” said Terry Ginther, diocesan director of Pastoral Planning and a member of the core team. “They are going to find a site that clearly and simply tells people what the Catholic Diocese of Trenton is all about.”
Shannon Jordan, director of the diocesan Office of Development, described the new website with its numerous links, as a “good tool” that will broaden the faith experience of countless Catholics and increase their knowledge of the workings of the Church as well.
The website, he said, will create an expansive view of the Church, connecting the dots between the parishes, the diocese, the worldwide communion and Rome.
“It will enhance those connections by inviting all the faithful to get more involved in the life of the Church,” Jordan said.
Rayanne Bennett, diocesan chief communications officer and core team member, described how the process of realignment gave rise to a new way of thinking about how and what the diocese communicates.
“It became increasingly clear how institutional the content of our existing website was. There were certainly some resources for users, but not presented in an invitational and educational way,” she remarked.
Working with diocesan leaders to develop a different approach to communication through the website, Bennett reported that the work has revealed new and exciting opportunities. “Once our directors and coordinators understood the direction we were moving in, they really embraced it and got very focused on making full use of this tool to better reach the people they serve.
Bennett continued, “In the process of moving beyond ‘what we do’ and getting into the ‘why’ and the ‘how,’ we were also able to see things that will help us serve the faithful even better in the future.”
She believes that the results are compelling. For instance, Bennett said, “Users will be able to find a page on St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in Trenton, complete with an explanation of its significance to the diocese, description of its art and architecture and a photo gallery that gives them a visual experience of visiting our Mother Church.”
The potential to put together packages like that will really be limitless, Bennett stressed, and she projects ongoing enhancement in the depth and quality of the content.
Regular visitors to the existing diocesan site, created more than a decade ago and enhanced twice over those years, will find functionality greatly improved, said Perry. New visitors to the site should be drawn by its convenience to return, he added.
The new site has a clear format and fast loading pages covering a wide variety of topics from history and demographics to the workings of the 30 plus diocesan offices serving the faithful of 111 parishes in Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean and Burlington counties.
Users will be able to access the latest multi-media, information and communications technologies as well as current news and ministry/apostolate specific information. The site will also connect with social media sites the diocese or its offices maintain – including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Access to these technologies is geared toward enhancing the ability of visitors to interact with diocesan staff, and find timely and useful resources for living their faith, said Ginther.
Spectrum of Needs
Visitors can tap into a wellspring of information on resources for sharing the Gospel via reflection, prayer, study and media including radio and television programming. Opportunities for prayer and worship run the gamut from parish Mass schedules, to diocesan liturgical events to retreat houses and apostolates, she said.
Jordan noted the far reaching scope of the website which will include sections on supporting marriage and family life, respect life, justice and serving those in need.
Resources for the separated, divorced and remarried will be available in the near future as will resources to help those who are hurting from problems ranging from addiction to domestic violence to caregiver support and mental health.
Users will also be able to explore educational opportunities in the diocese, including Catholic schools, campus ministries and religious education for all age levels and groups.
There are sections on how to get directly involved in the works of the diocese by way of financial support for its many programs as well as by sharing their time in advocacy for social justice causes.
Over time, Perry noted, the website will evolve to meet emerging needs and offer insight on new trends. In the near future for instance, people will be able to customize the profiles they create so that when they sign on, they’ll be pointed in the direction of the latest updates on topics that interest them.
“The site will remember the things you are interested in,” Ginther said. “For instance, if you have registered for a marriage program, the next time you sign-in, you’ll see related topics.”
Complete with a Spanish version, the realigned dioceseoftrenton.org has been described as a blueprint for equipping the faithful for the challenging times of the 21st. Century. Members of the Catholic community are encouraged to watch for the launch of the new online presence, expected to be a helpful tool for strengthening the sense of community within the diocesan family and empowering the faithful.