In working with the Diocese through the discovery phase of the site development, we narrowed the focus of the site to two main target audiences.
Diocesan staff, parish leaders and congregational members
As a practical resource for Diocesan corporate, governance, news and events information.
Membership and others who seek spirituality
To offer welcoming, pertinent information that encourages thoughtfulness, and the desire and opportunity for engagement.
But, as simply and clearly as we managed to outline the audiences, ensuring they found what they were all looking for was just as complex. Formulating a clear strategy was key to accomplishing everything else.
- Develop the Information Architecture
While the audiences could be generally grouped, there were many sub-sections of communities, from children and youth, to people in crisis. The messaging was just as wide-ranging too, from day-to-day church administration, to addressing the needs of marginalized groups. And it all needed to be accomplished while still meeting organizational goals.Building a website like this without a clear and deliberate plan would be like building a skyscraper without blueprints.
- Content Prioritization, Classification & Nomenclature
The success of any website hinges on how well it delivers its content. We needed to ensure that even the smallest community subsets would find what they seek. It starts with evaluating and classifying the existing content. Then content is prioritized so it reaches the reader quickly and keeps them on the site. Finally, even the titling of pages must do it’s part to streamline content delivery.
- Design for the User
Imagine landing on a website that tried to be everything to everyone simultaneously. Starting with developing primary, secondary, even tertiary navigation, the web design and layout needed to quickly appeal to as wide a range of community members as possible. It needed to give them enough information at each level of navigation to make them confident that they are in the right place and that they are on the right path to the information they seek.
- Maintain Valuable SEO Rankings
Regardless of the enormity of the task, the nuts and bolts of being found on the internet cannot be ignored. The existing Diocese site had over 8000 pages and attracted a lot of web traffic and links from other sites, both of which earned them higher search engine rankings. In migrating existing content to the new site, every precaution was needed to avoid losing those enviable rankings.
- Test, Analyze & Test Again
A robust usability testing and validation program was developed to ensure the stated goals of the web development were met. In specific testing environments, users were asked to find information and they were timed. Their rates of success were measured and used to fine tune design and navigation until optimal results were achieved.