Each year I speak to thousands of Catholics around the country about new media, and one of the most common questions I hear is, “How can we improve our website?” Most people know their website is the first impression people have of their parish, ministry, or organization. If their website is beautiful, helpful, and easy-to-use, it will draw visitors in and keep them coming back. But if their website is poorly designed, hard-to-use, and lacking relevant content, people will turn the other way.
Yet despite understanding the importance of a good website, few parishes or ministries have one. That’s not always their fault. To be frank, most Catholic groups just don’t have the in-house skill to develop a stunning website. They usually commission the work to the first volunteer who offers to help, even it yields underwhelming results.
So then what’s a parish to do? How can a church or ministry create an awesome website without much skill and without breaking the bank?
I always give the same answer: “Check out eCatholic.“
Several years ago, my friend Josh Simmons started eCatholic when he realized the deplorable state of most parish websites. He had already built several innovative sites on his own—including a state-of-the-art website for the NBA’s Summer League—but discerned that God wanted to apply his talents to the Catholic world. He dove in, launched eCatholic, and quickly became the leading parish website provider in the country. eCatholic currently hosts over 1,300 parish websites and continue to add more every day. The reason parishes gravitate toward eCatholic is because their sites are elegantly designed, extremely easy to manage, and they cost less per month than the average parish spends on donuts.
eCatholic recently made a game-changing announcement that should excite all parishes and ministries. They just released eCatholic 5, a major update to their content management system which will revolutionize the parish website world. A year in the making, the new version improves their already excellent software in several ways, making eCatholic, in my mind, the undisputed first choice for Catholic groups looking to revamp their websites.
Here are five reasons why you should check out the new eCatholic:
1. Beautiful and functional designs.
Although eCatholic does offer custom designed websites, most users begin with one of their templates and adjust the design themselves, still resulting in a completely unique site. The new eCatholic 5 introduces a slew of beautiful, elegant, easy-to-edit templates that will improve your current website right out of the box. Unlike many other template services, these are not blocky or bland. They’re colorful, vibrant, and designed by skilled graphic artists.
What’s nice is that you can change your template whenever you’d like without losing any of your content. For example, every few years you might consider switching to a new website template to add a fresh look and feel to your site. With eCatholic, you can do that in just a couple clicks and your menu items, blog posts, Mass times, and bulletins will all remain unaltered.
2. Fr. Robert Barron, Mass reading, and Vatican News modules.
This is probably my favorite part of the new eCatholic. The software now allows you to drag self-contained content modules to any area of your site—the homepage, sidebar, faith formation page, anywhere. And when you do, eCatholic will automatically resize the module to the appropriate width and will populate it with fantastic content. You never have to touch it again.
Although eCatholic plans to continue adding new modules in the future, right now you’ll find a Fr. Robert Barron module, which pulls in his latest YouTube commentaries; a Mass reading module, which brings the daily lectionary readings to your site; and a Vatican News module, which highlights articles from the Vatican about Pope Francis and the Church.
See the modules in action below:
Regrettably, most websites make fail to feature new and compelling content. These modules solve that problem by continually adding fresh videos and articles, without any effort on your part.
3. Mobile-ready sites.
Did you know that half of all online users access the internet exclusively through their phones? That percentage is only going up which means it’s crucial for your website to function well on any device.
In eCatholic, every website template is mobile responsive, right out of the box. That means your site will automatically adjust to whatever device a person is using, whether a computer, phone, or tablet. The text will resize accordingly, the menus will remain easily accessible, and visitors will have a consistently great experience regardless of their device.
Again, you don’t have to change or adjust anything to make your site mobile-responsive. eCatholic does all the work for you.
4. Extremely easy to manage and update.
Many websites become stale and outdated because they’re too hard to update. To adjust the content, you have to know HTML code or some other programming language. But eCatholic makes it extremely easy to change content on your site without any technical expertise. Changing text, for instance, is as simple as clicking and typing:
I’ve never seen a simpler, more intuitive system for adding and adjusting content on a website.
5. Designed specifically for Catholic parishes and ministries.
What ultimately sets eCatholic apart is that they create websites with Catholics in mind. They’re familiar with Catholic parishes and ministries and they keenly understand what these organizations need in their websites. Therefore, when you create an eCatholic site, it already includes many of the most common features like:
- Mass times
- Bulletin page functionality
- Map and contact information
- Parish calendar
- Pastor’s blog
If you’re a Catholic priest, parish, or ministry leader, chances are you’re looking for ways to improve your website. And if that’s the case, I strongly recommend eCatholic. The best way to determine whether they’re a good fit for you is to sign up for a free thirty day trial and play around with the features. You’ll quickly discover what hundreds of parishes already know, that eCatholic will raise your ministry to the next level and ensure that the first impression people have of your organization is a great one.