By STEPHEN O’KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 21, 2009
In a continuing effort to keep Catholics well informed of the happenings of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, The Georgia Bulletin has expanded and updated its Web site with an updated look, new features and user-friendly additions.
Atlanta archdiocesan Webmaster Jessica Handley said the Web site was refurbished to prepare for new content, in addition to adding several new features.
“The goal was to make the Web site more user friendly,” said Handley, adding that they were looking toward the future by creating a scalable frame for the site.
The new Web site is based on a system written by former archdiocesan Webmaster Ben Vigil. Handley said it was a great point from which to start and made the process move a lot more smoothly.
A complete visual overhaul was performed to give a cleaner look to the theme, with additions including a new soothing blue color pattern and a picture of the Atlanta skyline at the top of any given page.
“We really wanted a clean look,” said Handley. “Blue is a popular color for Web design.”
Mary Anne Castranio, executive editor for The Georgia Bulletin, is enthused about the changes and improvements.
“Our Web site is an essential part of our communication strategy—we want to deliver the news of the Catholic Church in North Georgia to as many people as possible. We have had a robust, effective site for years, and we want to continue that tradition,” she said.
“We won a Catholic Press Association award for our Web site a few years ago, but we didn’t want to ‘rest on our laurels’—it’s important to improve our online presence, to consider whether we are meeting the needs of our readers, and to do that on a continual basis,” she added.
The new Georgia Bulletin site is designed and organized to make finding images and stories, current or archival, an easy process.
Down the left side of the home page are a variety of categories, giving visitors one of many different ways of searching for past stories. Categories include Catholic Living, People, Sports, Ministry News, plus many more, and following the link leads readers to a list of stories in that category, presented in chronological order.
This is in addition to the Archives link at the top of the page, which is a date-based search option that was also found on the former Bulletin Web site. Arranged by year and month, visitors to the Web site can browse stories all the way back to 1963.
The keyword search presents yet another way to find stories with the ability to select a date range to look for a subject. Readers looking for an article from 2008 about a particular parish can simply type in the name in quotes, select the dates and click “Search Now.”
The new home page depicts stories and pictures from the most recent issue of the paper, with clickable links to full articles. At the bottom of each article page are links to other stories in that particular issue.
On the right-hand side of the home page is a Catholic News Service feed with clickable headlines to recent world news, allowing readers to stay informed of urgent happenings in the Catholic community worldwide.
The site includes directions for setting up custom RSS feed to get Catholic news posted on readers’ blogs, Yahoo!, Google pages or other Web sites. This allows users to set up a live feed of headlines based on subjects they want to read about.
A noteworthy addition to the new Georgia Bulletin site is the presence of online advertising. Advertising customers, especially Catholic businesses in the archdiocese now have a new avenue for reaching potential customers.
Tom Aisthorpe, advertising manager for the newspaper, is quite excited about the addition of online advertising to the Web site.
“It gives Catholic businesses another medium to reach potential clients—plus it gives our online readers a way to find businesses of fellow Catholics to support,” he said.
He noted that the Atlanta market includes a great many Catholic consumers, adding, “We need to support our fellow Catholic business owners, especially during these tough economic times.”
Castranio said, “We strive to keep the cost of creating The Georgia Bulletin to a reasonable level—and advertising is an important part of our business. What we hope is that our ads will also serve as a valuable means of connecting companies and potential customers.”
Links to The Georgia Bulletin’s Twitter and Facebook pages are available at the Follow Us pull-down menu on the new Web site as well so frequent Internet users can stay up to date wherever they browse. And readers subscribing for e-news will soon be receiving updates by e-mail.
At the end of 2008, the Archdiocese of Atlanta also overhauled the Catholic Charities Web site, performing many of the same updates The Georgia Bulletin has received. New content was added, as well as a redesign, and hopes are that the new sites will increase traffic and presence of Catholics on the Web.
“The Georgia Bulletin is more than a newspaper,” said Castranio. “It’s a ministry and a way to connect Catholics far and wide. We believe that our improved Web site will increasingly be a source of inspiration and information.”
The Georgia Bulletin Web site can be found at georgiabulletin.org. Search for “Georgia Bulletin” at www.facebook.com. The Twitter address is: www.twitter.com/georgiabulletin. For more information on setting up a custom RSS feed, visit georgiabulletin.org/rssinfo. For information on advertising on the Web site, contact Tom Aisthorpe at (404) 877-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on the new site or to contact the editorial staff, write to email@example.com.