It is fair to say that at this stage in the internet of things that most parishes, dioceses, religious orders and other faith organisations not only have a website, but are probably on their fourth or fifth version of said site.
We will address web design and providers at a later stage. What we are addressing in this post is content. Content remains king!
Your content should reflect your mission as a local or national faith organisation. While local content is very much up to you to bring together, the Catholic Communications Office can offer several resources to assist you with seasonal content for Advent, Holy Week, Easter, Creation Time etc. We can also assist you with up to date news and podcasts. This is what’s available from the CCO:
The Catholic News.ie website was launched in January 2016 as the news source for the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Since then we have been sharing short news and longer feature articles on our website, and through the related social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. In January 2017 we introduced a dedicated free news feed from catholicnews.ie so that it can be hosted permanently on the home page of parish, diocesan and other Church websites around Ireland. Our news feed features the latest selected news and feature articles from catholicnews.ie. It can be placed websites as an automatic news feed which does not require any management by the local web administrator. Most dioceses and a large number of parishes have the feed installed which is offering new content on a daily basis to those visiting these websites.
www.catholicbishops.ie is the main website of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Each week the website has new content added which can be cut and paste for use on parish and diocesan websites. This content includes features on seasonal events like Croagh Patrick and the Day for Life; liturgical seasonal content for Advent, Christmas, Holy Week and Easter; and, content on the Season of Creation. The content comes with visuals, audio and video for sharing on parish and diocesan websites.
Faithcast is the weekly faith podcast from www.catholicnews.ie, the news source for the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The weekly podcast features interviews, news and stories of faith from the Catholic Church in Ireland. This is something that could be easily embedded as a permanent link or home page feature on your website. For more on the podcast see www.catholicbishops.ie/faithcast.
Sharing the Good News is the monthly newsletter for parishes and dioceses. It can be shared in whole or in part on websites. It is issued monthly and available as an archive on the home page of catholicbishops.ie. The December 2020 issue will be available shortly.
Daily Thought for the Day Reflections are growing in popularity online. The thought for the day visual shared on our social media platforms each day are amongst the most popular content shared. These can easily be saved and used in a reflective section on a parish or diocesan website.
It is also worth noting that the websites of the Councils, Agencies and Offices of the Irish Bishops’ Conference have wonderful ready made content available for sharing on parish and diocesan websites. You will find links to all these websites on our home page catholicbishops.ie.
It might also be worth considering the embedding of your own parish or diocesan Facebook or Twitter accounts on your home page. Doing this gives your website automatic updates each time you share something on these platforms.
Your website is only as good as the content you make available on it. Updates should be frequent and while this can put pressure on the person or persons with the responsibility for keeping it current, it is important to note that you do not have to reinvent the wheel each time you come to do an update. Think collaboration, connection and cross pollination when it comes to content and you will cut your online updating in half!
NB: This year’s online interactive Advent Calendar will go live on Sunday 1 December.