In designing a parish website, one of the organizational questions that inevitably arises is what to call our primary menu options? I’m going to go ahead and say it–in way too many parish websites the terms or phrases chosen aren’t cutting it. Usually the reason is simply too much “church language”–i.e. titles like Sacraments, Religious Education, RCIA, etc. This is insider language, and the most critical visitor to a parish website isn’t the regularly attending registered member who knows what RCIA is or stands for, but the future guest, the potential visitor who has only the vaguest sense of what “Sacraments” are much less, what an amazing and powerful gift sacraments are in the Church!
Here’s an example of a parish (Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills, CA) that has struck a great combination in developing inspiring and descriptive names for the major areas of their website.
They use the headings:
- Love in Action: Social Justice
- Amazing Grace: Sacramental Life
- Thanks and Praise: Liturgical Ministry
- Called to Holiness: Your Spiritual Journey
- A People Set Apart: Our Community Life
- A City on a Hill: About Our Parish
I love the way catechetical and Biblical are allusions woven in. For a visitor or guest, the titles may intrigue or inspire–both good things! Having the extra “All Are Welcome” tag is a nice touch too. We as Catholics know this is the case, theologically. But, it’s certainly not the narrative many of our potential guests and visitors may pick up from popular news narratives–so it’s great to highlight this prominently as web hospitality can be the start of in-person hospitality.
While this isn’t a review of the entire parish website, the menu choices are especially well done and can help many of us to consider, what’s our site really communicating to a guest/visitor? Is it insider language or bland terms–or does it excite and pique curiosity?