Saint James' Episcopal Church

Year:

2022

Saint James' Episcopal Church (SJEC) is located in the heart of Warrenton, Virginia, and has been an integral part of the community since 1853. The church offers a wide range of opportunities for worship, spiritual exploration, service to others along with building deep relationships. In 2020-2021 parishioners were unable to attend services due to the pandemic. This brought to light a need to bring more of the community and resources online through Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and the website.

Problem areas:

SJEC digital spaces were active prior to the pandemic but parishioners consistently ran up against the following issues when visiting the website:

- The website was confusing to navigate. There was wonderful information being lost through confusing layouts and broken links.

- It took ages to load. The website had large photos and plugins which drastically slowed down the website. In Fauquier county, this is double the issue because of the lack of access to high-speed internet.

- It was difficult to update and find accurate information about ministries, calendar events and news.

Approach:

For this website I was given a lot of freedom to do what I wanted with the design. I asked general questions to a few key stakeholders for what they were looking for and what they felt parishioners needed from the website. Each person I spoke with focused on a need to see the community reflecting back through the pages of the site. It needs to have accurate information, easy to use for parishioners of all ages, and have inviting language with photos that brings weekly events to life. I made a document for myself outlining the sitemap, the information currently on each page, and how each page needed to improve. I then spent some time looking up websites that had a focus on community for inspiration. After collecting my research I spent sometime drawing out rough sketches for the main pages on a piece of paper and then built a prototype of the website in Adobe XD.

Once the website was approved by the Church staff I worked on simultaneously archiving the old website and building the new website in Webflow. There was a hard deadline for the website launch because we were switching the domain and host provider. I placed most of my focus on the most important layouts and now that I have more time I am going back through the website to make additional updates.

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