The New(est)

Posting ’round these parts has been sparse of late, as my day job has kept me busy. Our “web team” is a team of two, and in addition to other duties, myself and Mr. Spooner have been todo-list-ing our way through a complete top-to-bottom overhaul of the NewSpring Church website for the better part of the last 10 months. The previous version of the site was launched two years ago, and served us well for that season, but I’m turbo-excited about the new site’s potential.

With Spooner’s skillful bending of ExpressionEngine to our will, we added a Stories section to the site to take advantage of the exceptional content a rather large church makes possible. Taking visual cues from some talented people exploring editorial design on the web (mainly The Bold Italic, Laura Miner‘s Pictory, and Jason Santa Maria) we developed templating system that enables fairly quick turn-around (2–3 hours for design, typically less than an hour for coding/publishing) on new stories without sacrificing unique visuals and layouts. For example: Zac’s story, Kacie’s story, and Neicy’s story are all from the same “visual family,” but unique members nonetheless.

Some of the changes were big. We retooled the sermon series pages to give more flexibility on bringing the series branding to life in a bigger way—page designs like Practical Atheist and Identity Theft weren’t possible on the previous iteration of the site. I look forward to exploring and designing for that canvas in the future. We also made sections like Watch & Listen much more about search and discovery, and improved general site search as well.

Some of the redesign process was more about small improvements to existing pages and userflows. Previous pages on the old site had way too much visual prominence, when they only served as a sort of pass-through or filtering page. For example, Ministries doesn’t need a huge visual of people “doing stuff”—I likely just want information about a certain Ministry and I want to get to it quickly. We don’t make a big deal out of singling out individual campuses, as we tend to stick with church-wide events, so we combined all the location and service time information onto one page. Anywhere we could simplify, we tried to. And the places where we felt like visuals could make a more appropriate, succinct impact, we made flexible.

There is still much to do. A website, at least a good one, is never finished, only launched.

But man it feels good to launch it.