For the past several weeks we have been engaged in the redesign of Annunciation Cathedral’s (SF) website. The project was interesting. Even though there’s more to be done the new design has been implemented at www.annunciation.org.
The process of finding a new design took a lot of effort. Typically, Greek Orthodox parishes across the United States use templates created for them by the Archdiocesan Internet Ministry. I certainly can understand why. They are easy to use and they give many parish web sites a similar look & feel.
There was a desire not to provide more of the same but to try something new, innovative, and different. With so many innovations in technology, the church has to keep up with those innovations by using them within web sites to attract our youth as well as converts to the Orthodox faith.
The desire was to take this to a new level. First, we took a few preliminary steps and created the following:
- A Facebook page
- A Twitter account (reminders regarding events and news items)
- A parish list server (for delivering parish news)
- A parish YouTube Channel (for delivering video)
We wanted to in some way embrace every form of social media to convey an Orthodox Christian message for a worldwide audience.
It was very important to utilize a Content Management System (CMS). For those of you unfamiliar with a CMS, new page designs are created for the web site and the user has the capability of creating new web pages utilizing the those designs. This gives parish employees the flexibility of creating content for the web site and they do not need to have any programming skills. That is especially important for clergy who are usually dependent on volunteer webmasters. They can have more control by creating timely content themselves or make changes to existing web pages.
A Joomla CMS was chosen. The design came from an unlikely place. It was created by a group of Albanian and Greek programmers who started a software company in Albania. The template was specifically created for an Orthodox church. We did the customization work for Annunciation Cathedral. The design is very innovative and takes advantage of all forms of social media.
We also chose to install photo album software. Parish groups want to be able to share photographs from events. They can easily upload photographs and they do not have to be a webmaster. This feature was especially important for Annunciation youth groups.
There are very Greek Orthodox parishes that have Twitter accounts. We are finding Annunciation’s Twitter account is becoming very useful for sending event reminders. They can easily be received on any smartphone or tablet.
Please, take a look. Sign up for the email list and follow Annunciation on Twitter. Progress!