Today, the Catholic Herald unveils its revamped website, catholicherald.org, offering readers a fresh look, improved site layout and a site that’s mobile friendly.
The site was last updated in 2009, which is why Brian T. Olszewski, general manager of the Catholic Herald, said it was time for a change.
“It’s just time for not only a technical upgrade, but also just a fresher look and you say, ‘Why now?’ I think it’s apropo that it comes at the start of a new church year, so we start with the season of hope; it’s a good time to relaunch,” he said.
The upgraded, mobile-friendly site offers readers using their smartphones or tablets an improved experience on the go with larger text, and features fresh colors – the site’s colors changed from blue and black to red and black, better matching the print publication, which was redesigned in 2012.
It also features slightly larger photos used in the rotator at the top of the home page, and larger thumbnails accompanying local and nation/world news articles.
The home page offers easy access to local and nation/world news, now displayed in their own categories side by side, and the most recent Catholic Herald special section – Family, Mature Lifestyles, myFaith or Catholic Marriage – which used to be a few clicks into the site.
Readers will once again find the local, two-day weather forecast near the Catholic News Service multimedia player, something lost as the site’s features became outdated.
Also new is the Herald blog, the home of all blog posts by staff members or contributors, offering new content more often, all in one location.
The search bar received a mini-makeover, too, and allows readers to type more characters when trying to locate articles.
Even advertisers will benefit from the changes, according to Olszewski.
“Those who advertise will have more places, more ways of doing that on the new website,” he said, referring to the addition of a few locations on the home page, as well as the opportunity to advertise through a text link.
“Whether it’s a corporate account or a parish wanting to get more people to attend its parish festival, our website can do that just like our print product can, but our website gives them another opportunity to do that, and again, in both cases, it’s a matter of good stewardship,” Olszewski said. “We understand that parishes and schools don’t have huge budgets, so we’re also serving that group as well.”
The Catholic Herald called upon Minnesota-based Craig Berry, whose website design work won Minnesota’s TheCatholicSpirit.com a Catholic Press Association first-place award in 2010, and Green Bay’s TheCompassNews.org, a second-place CPA award in 2011.
Not only did Olszewski say he was pleased with the work Berry did in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but also with the redesign Berry did to chnonline.org in 2009.
“He understands Catholic media … so he gets what we’re trying to do,” Olszewski said. “And he understands the challenges we face in reaching different demographics within the Catholic market … he just seemed to be the right choice.”
With Berry’s help, the site should offer visitors a better experience overall.
Berry said keeping all systems of a website up to date is important, as well as keeping a fresh look.
“Online news outlets need to establish and maintain trust with their readership. Keeping a website in line with current design and layout trends helps to establish a connection with the visitor that feels comfortable and familiar,” he wrote in an email to your Catholic Herald.
Olszewski said the website offers another way readers can get “spiritual nourishment,” but that it should supplement the print edition, which features articles, columns and other things not offered online.
“We would like them to read the print edition because there are things they will not find on the Web, for sure … but the Web allows us to teach, to inform, to inspire in a different way and it’s part of our role within the new evangelization to do those things,” he said.
Olszewski said that though the website and print publication are different, they’re connected.
“The print product is a part of the new evangelization because what’s often overlooked is that group that is still sitting in the pews, that they are invested and immersed in the church, domestically, in the parish, in the diocese or archdiocese, universally so the print product serves them – we know that from our research,” he said. “What the Web allows us to do is build upon that so that those who are coming into the pews and staying there, the next generation or generations of the immersed, the invested, will have access to it.”
Olszewski said he’s excited about the updated site, and not just because of the fresher look.
“I’m always excited when we can improve what we’re doing and bringing – as we hear in all the talk about the new evangelization – bringing people into a closer relationship with Christ – that’s what we do and it’s not about the bells and the whistles. It’s not about flash and all these other things that can be done on the Web,” he said. “It’s still about the content, and if we can provide a vehicle, in this case, a revamped website, that will allow people to have that or enter into that closer relationship, I think it’s great.”