By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published June 25, 2015
ATLANTA—The Archdiocese of Atlanta’s website is about to have a fresh look on the outside as it also changes internally to a mobile-friendly platform.
Changing technology has aged the seven-year-old site.
“It was state of the art when it came out, but now it’s not,” said Jonathon Hanten, the webmaster of the archdiocese.
The new website will be more user friendly by adapting to how viewers read it, from looking at it on a desktop computer at work to standing in line at the grocery story and seeing it on a smartphone. It also ties in with the message of the recently released Pastoral Plan to engage with more faith-seekers on the Internet, although updating the site was in motion before the implementation of the plan.
“I consider this the archdiocese’s welcome mat. It’s for visitors. It’s for parishioners,” Hanten said.
Growth of mobile devices spurs new website
It has been more than seven years since the website was updated.
Mobile technology and Facebook and social networks have exploded since it was constructed using HTML and PHP coding. A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 19 percent of Americans access online services on a smartphone.
However, the existing archdiocesan website could not reconfigure its appearance for visitors searching on mobile devices for nearby Masses or information about the Catholic faith.
That’s a problem when 24 percent of the daily users of the archdiocesan website look at the site on smartphones, Hanten said.
“It doesn’t work well on the phone. We’re trying to accommodate them,” he said.
The new site is built on a WordPress platform, a free content management system. WordPress is used by nearly one out of four websites and is the world’s most popular blogging platform.
The new Archdiocese of Atlanta website is being designed by the Atlanta firm, New Uniform. The goal is to roll out the new site July 1.
The webmaster expects to see more phone users on the site once it is easily readable on that platform.
One of the most popular features of the website is a listing of parishes and other Catholic facilities. The redesigned site links to parish and school locations in three places from the home page. Visitors will see the nearest locations after entering an address, and the nearest parish appears on a map.
With streamlined menus, the site will highlight two special churches in the archdiocese: the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Cathedral of Christ the King.
The homepage has been redesigned to help visitors find what they need with a less congested array of options.
In addition to being mobile friendly, it will have a gallery of multimedia presentations from videos and news features to photos. It will also feature the archdiocesan social media networks.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta was one of the first five dioceses in the country to have a webpage when Msgr. Peter A. Dora created it in 1995, out of a personal interest in and knowledge of computers and his role in archdiocesan communications. The website was updated most recently in 2008.
Reaching online seekers, Catholics
The Pastoral Plan, which is to guide the outreach efforts for the archdiocese’s 101 parishes and missions over the next five years, envisions faith communities harnessing digital media to reach active Catholics and people interested in the faith. Some 44,000 unique users visit the website daily.
Paula Gwynn Grant, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said the web is key to outreach because it’s where Catholics and the public find information about what’s going on in central and north Georgia’s Catholic community.
Said Grant, “The website will have information to help anyone learn/know their faith, live their faith, share their faith via comments, videos, social media and news/stories. The website is a modern day necessary communications tool that allows us to bring people together, evangelize and create stronger community.”