The new front door of the Episcopal Church

I was glad to see the new website of the Episcopal Church launch this week. It is a major improvement over the previous site, and in almost every respect I think it serves our church well. Kudos to the staff of the communication office at the Episcopal Church Center for a job well done. A few people have asked me what I think, so read on if you like.

Finally our church’s website is organized to present who we are and how we carry out our mission. This is a change from the previous few iterations of the website, which were organized around our org chart. Now it’s easy for a seeker to learn more about what we believe. It’s easier for a leader within the Episcopal Church to find out what we do and who’s doing it. My understanding is that in the future, there will be more content about various offices and departments.

I especially like the multimedia features, including videos of worship and other content too. The news section (Episcopal News Service) has been broken out into its own site now, which makes a great deal of sense. Now the corporate site and the news site can each carry out their work with more clarity. Ads, for example, can appear on the news site, and one wouldn’t want that on a corporate site.

The prayer section is nice too. Our prayer functions at Forward Movement get lots of viewer interest, so I know folks will find the online prayer features both edifying and inspiring. It’s good to see the collect of the day right on the front page Generally, the whole site looks fresh and professional — just as it should. Some might quibble with this or that, but that’s inevitable.

You’ll notice that the whole website is available in both English and Spanish, reflecting the breadth of our church. Like other modern websites, the site has been designed so that additional translations can be added for still more languages.

If you look at the Panorama blogs section, you’ll see yours truly among the featured bloggers. Giving such visibility to a range of bloggers is a welcome shift from an earlier time. There’s no telling what we might say, and I think this confidence reflects well on the church. Someone who is trying to learn more about the Episcopal Church will encounter a range of perspectives, and perhaps even criticism. This is a pleasant contrast from both our own past and other denominations, which might be inclined to attempt to control the message on the official site. My hope is that eventually there will be an aggregator on the Episcopal Church website so that we’ll see blog posts, not just links.

Sure, there are a few things I’d like to see changed sooner rather than later. It would be good to have social media links on every page — both to find the social media presence of the Episcopal Church and to share content from the site on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I think it’s pretty important to have a mobile-friendly version of the site, since the current design of fairly hard to read on mobile devices.

And, of course, I’d like to see links to the full range of churchwide ministries. Right now, there’s no mention of or link to Forward Movement, though we are a ministry of the Presiding Bishop.

But these are all small things which can be fixed in the next revision. Considering the massive amount of work on such a site, the team at 815 are to be commended for their outstanding work. This is a tremendous improvement. And to add to the challenge, it was all done with almost no budget. If you aren’t impressed by that, you haven’t work on a corporate website.

So kudos to the staff at 815. We all look forward to seeing a great site get even better.

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