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Brandan Lennox's

Case Study: St. Timothy's Episcopal Church

It was around this time last year that I started talking with my dad about redesigning our church’s website. He had designed and been maintaining it in Microsoft FrontPage for several years, and it was getting a bit long in the tooth.

I knew it would be a hard sell. He was (rightfully) proud of everything he had learned and done with the site over the years, and he was doing a good job of keeping the information current, even if the technology had fallen behind. But he knew that people weren’t really using the site, and it was frustrating him.

The Diagnosis

We decided that there was good content on the site, but it was just too hard to find. There were sub-menus of sub-menus in the navigation, pages that couldn’t be easily discovered or reached at all, and no consistent visual design to aid people in exploring without fear of getting lost. The site was also using frames and JavaScript navigation menus, both of which have fallen out of favor with the web design community for a number reasons.

Ultimately, we took nearly 50 existing pages and consolidated them into about 12 pages on the new site while adding a little bit of spiffy on top.

The new St. Timothy's site The new St. Timothy’s site

Calendar of Events

The church office uses Microsoft Outlook to manage their calendar. In order to update the calendar on the website, they would export it as an HTML document and upload it to the website. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet our lofty aesthetic and usability standards:

The old St. Timothy's calendar The old St. Timothy’s calendar

The layout was constrained — only showing the first event for a given day in the “calendar” view — and nearly impossible to style, so we needed to build a custom calendar. The office workers were satisfied with Outlook, though, and didn’t want to migrate to a completely web-based calendar. Instead, they now export the calendar events as a CSV file and upload it to the website where it’s magically shoved into a database. It’s quick and painless, and the new calendar is much easier to scan and navigate:

The new St. Timothy's calendar The new St. Timothy’s calendar

In addition, important events are automatically highlighted both on the site’s home page and the calendar pages. The secretary only needs to mark them “high-priority” in Outlook before exporting.

Photo Galleries

The old site had several photo galleries sprinkled throughout various pages. Some were on their own page, some were part of another page, and others were hosted on another site! We thought it would be better to have all the photos in a central spot where they’d be easy to peruse and easy to come back to later on.

The St. Timothy's photo gallery The St. Timothy’s photo gallery

Now all the photo galleries are consolidated to a single page. The site’s webmaster (i.e., Dad) manages the photo galleries through an administrative interface, so he doesn’t need to run all the updates through me.

The End Result

We were all really pleased with how the site turned out. It was a major overhaul and took a lot of work and patience on everyone’s part, and we’ve been excited to get positive feedback from the parishioners.

Feel free to visit the site and browse around.

Thanks for reading, and take care!