Sometimes in design, less is more.
Generally, when you find a “bare bones” or “minimalist” parish website, it’s not a pretty sight. However, Saint Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, Kentucky, has one of the most straightforward parish websites I’ve ever found that is clean, simple, and attractive.
- Mass Schedule; prominent / easy to find
- Rotating Photographs constitute a major layout element, and give a glimpse into parish life
- Plain Jane Menu keeps navigation simple (and encourages webmaster to stick to the essentials)
- GASP: Aesthetically pleasing and completely appropriate use of the Vatican News widget? This may be a first. It’s also a great initial reminder that we belong to the Church Universal.
- Home is the highlight. Once you start clicking around this site, you’ll find several spots where things could get better for St. Stephen’s website. This may have been a symptom of Website Developer Lacks Understanding of Parish’s Needs Syndrome (common as the cold these days) or Website Developer Doesn’t Maintain Site Syndrome (also common). I’m not sure what happened in this case, but consider these possibilities when meeting with a website developer.
Readers may have noticed that my last few “Site Inspiration” posts have been less than knock-your-socks-off. Dynamo website spotlights are fun. They challenge parishes to get creative and take chances. (Duc in altum!) But those sites can also be intimidating for a parish council or pastor considering a website makeover.
Websites like St. Stephen’s demonstrate this: Solid parish websites don’t need to be fancy. They need to be organized, aesthetically pleasing, and useful. They should communicate your parish’s unique character. But for Heaven’s sake, don’t feel pressured to have all the latest trends in web design on your parish site.
Important Note: Always consider meetings with potential website developers as two-way interviews. Do not act desperate (even if it’s clear you’re in desperate need of help). For help in taking those first steps, check out the Church Websites 101 Series.