Click in: is all new

Categories: Around the Diocese

Diocesan website has inviting new look, more features

July 5, 2013 edition
By Nikki Rajala

With the click of a mouse July 1, the Diocese of St. Cloud launched its new website. The address is the same — — but the look and feel are new. And content is much easier to access.


Father Robert Rolfes, vicar general of the diocese, said, “We are happy to launch a new website because it is an important means of communication with the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud and beyond.”

While one mouse-click rolled out the site, it’s been in development since February. The two who developed the site, Tim Welch, media and technology consultant for Catholic Education Ministries, and Barb Simon-Johnson, specialist in graphic design and web content, spent the week before its inauguration checking links and ensuring each section and function worked smoothly.

Why a new site?

In answer to why the new website was created, Welch said, “We needed to update our present site for the sake of web-security. We needed a tool that would balance many things — like ease of use for updating, inviting to peruse, interactive when possible, effective on mobile devices, cost-effective.

“While researching,” he said, “we found WordPress’s Multisite feature was robust enough for our needs and allowed each office to have its own space, as part of a unified whole. To me, it symbolizes how each office has its own specialty, but tries to work collaboratively whenever possible. “

And, Simon-Johnson said, “we wanted to create a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate site.”

“With different offices handling their own site,” Welch added, “there should be an abundance of new content and ideas. We hope readers will bookmark pages, like The Visitor’s, for the latest news.”

The website was set up to be edited by each diocesan office, Simon-Johnson said. “Each office can update information on their own part of the website.”

Because offices will add their own content, the site will be updated often. The Visitor, for example, plans to add stories, officials, editorials and other opinion pieces and calendar items as they are written. Articles will be easier to find, using the “search” function.


On the Office of Marriage and Family page, viewers can find pertinent sections faster — upcoming events, a calendar of Natural Family Planning classes or information for marriage preparation — with only a few clicks.

New features on the home page include links to other Minnesota dioceses, to religious communities and to Facebook. Drop-down menus and toggles make it easier to navigate.

Welch likes the parish listing, with links to parish pages. “By clicking on the parish name,” he said, “a Google Map is provided. Travelers can quickly locate a parish, and this gives us experience in leveraging a variety of web tools inside and outside of the WordPress community.”

Simon-Johnson’s favorite feature is the “events” function.

“The ‘viewability’ is wonderful,” she said. “For those who prefer looking at a calendar we now have that feature and for those who prefer a list view of events, this is also available. People can get full information about an event.

“For the Diocesan Ministry Day, people can read about all the speakers, workshops, sponsors and exhibitors and the day’s schedule. And they can register right there, without having to go looking somewhere else to find it.”

Welch and Simon-Johnson created an attractive and accessible site for the diocese. At the same time they were aware the new bishop — when one is appointed to replace Bishop John Kinney, who tendered his retirement letter a year ago — might bring ideas of his own. So the website will continue to grow and adapt.

One thing they are working on is the capability to live stream events, such as those which surround the arrival of the new bishop.

“We hope that when people visit the site,” Simon-Johnson said, “it is not only informative but an enjoyable experience.”