We are in the middle of a new web project where I work as Web Ministry Coordinator. We are completely overhauling our site design and information architecture with the help of Chris Merritt and Nathan Smith. Of the many things we are trying to do, including creating a staff blog on the church site, rolling a News & Events page is top on our list.
Church news and events are usually a big focus for church web sites, but this focus is spread out throughout the site. At most church sites, you might get a calendar page with detail of upcoming events. We really want to create something which can compete with the major news outlets, but deals with hyper-local content specific to our church, it’s people, and the local community of 30,000 folks.
We want to include local news, church news, announcements, upcoming events, calendar events for the week, blog entry teasers, birth announcements, death announcements (which we will either name “Grieving the Loss” or “In Memoriam”), prayer requests, and service opportunities. The idea is to create a page that people might save as their home page in their browser, or at least use as a reference point within our site for everything new happening at and around the church.
The challenges when you start trying to design for this page are huge. Somehow it has to fit within the regular church site design (which should accommodate sparse content also), but still work for a news page where the user may scroll three pages. I am still not completely satisfied with the result we plan to launch in April, but this December blog post by Luke Stevens about online news design has been really helpful for me to get my brain around the concept and the design challenges. It is also neat to see how various news sites from around the world approach the problems (eye candy included at the link above).