Church of England
The Church of England’s new digital team, which was formed in October 2016, inherited a website that had not been significantly updated in 12 years, had 70,000 pages and was built around the church’s complex structure.
In seven months, the team redesigned churchofengland.org, audited the content which led to it junking every single old page and creating 10,000 new ones and trained 50 new editors.
The old website had more than ten million page views every year, but suffered an incredibly high bounce rate of 54.9 per cent. Research conducted by the digital team revealed that its visitors comprised clergy, regular churchgoers and those exploring their faith but that the content obviously failed to satisfy their requirements.
A ten-week research project, involving focus groups, one-to-one interviews, targeted online surveys and an examination of how users interacted with the content, shaped the development of the new site. It has been built to provide guidance for those exploring their faith, to inspire Christians to speak confidently about God and their faith online and to enable the Church to grow local congregations through targeted, integrated national campaigns.
The new design is clean and the site is easy to navigate, with a good search engine and a mobile first approach. Churches across the country have shared more than 250 new images that demonstrate the breadth of the activities that go on. The navigational model prioritises the content that is core to the majority of Church of England followers in one place, under four headings.
Our faith, which covers everything from ‘why we pray?’ to ‘The Pilgrims’ Way’, discusses Christianity, with videos of people explaining what different aspects their faith meant to them. Life events offers information on rites such as christenings, adult baptisms and funerals. It also links to achurchnearyou.com, which features 16,500 churches. Faith in action brings to life the Church’s missional work while the Prayer and worship section includes liturgical and prayer resources, including a prayer for the day. Specialist content, such as information about the General Synod or church schools, is contained under More. The site is also linked, through a global navigation bar, to three other key sites A Church Near You and those of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
The original site had more than 100 editors. Today, 50 editors trained in writing for the web and content management systems, work on the site. Each editor has received Plain English accreditation from the Church, and has flexibility to be more creative with their own pages. All the previous content has been rewritten.
Within the first seven months, the site had enjoyed more than one million new visitors and there had been a 20 per cent uplift in the number of page views.
The judges liked the way in which this old institution has been given a fresh face. ‘Cutting pages by 85 per cent while delivering a clean interface, appealing user journey and an especially attractive mobile experience, the team neatly balanced serving the needs of multiple audiences - from existing believers to church schools to those curious to understand more,’ they said. ‘The devil has probably felt the need to have a look at this website.’