LDS.org Improvements Make Site More User Friendly
By Ryan Morgenegg, Church News staff writer
Every month LDS.org gets a little more than 25 million visits, said Jeff Isom, director of the LDS.org website, in one of the breakout sessions of the 2013 LDSTech conference. “It is believed to be the largest religious website in the world in terms of traffic, design, and content,” he said.
To begin his presentation on how the LDS.org website is doing, Brother Isom asked, “What year did the LDS.org website launch?”
The answer was 1996. For 17 years the Church has developed, improved, and increased the capabilities of the main website to bless Heavenly Father’s children with the gospel. Brother Isom said there are opportunities to improve as the work moves forward. Although there are a number of things the Church is working on, it is important to know just how enormous the website is. Brother Isom then displayed a statement that read, “LDS.org is part of a digital communications ecosystem made up of web, mobile, social, and media platforms.”
One of the challenges in the past has been the various entities at the Church—such as welfare, Church history, temple work, and priesthood—communicating in a unified manner.
The goal is to become more unified so members can accomplish the things that they need to do, said Brother Isom.
He explained that the purposes of the LDS.org website are contained in these three points:
1. Inspire members worldwide to follow Jesus Christ by delivering prophetic messages and Spirit-rich resources for learning, living, and sharing His gospel.
2. Enable members to minister and serve by providing powerful training, teaching, and learning content with easy-to-use tools.
3. Invite all to come unto Jesus Christ by making inspired content accessible through many digital channels, websites, media, mobile apps, and social media, even if intended audiences never visit the LDS.org website.
Brother Isom said that understanding the third purpose has required a change of thinking for those working on the website. The thrust in the past has been toward driving traffic to the website and using LDS.org as a destination. He said that idea needs to change. “We realize we are going to have to reach out to people where they are using social media, social platforms, and maybe even third-party software,” he said.
He displayed a picture of a landscape with a reservoir at the top. The reservoir contained living water, and several rivers flowed down the graphic to homes and people below. He related this to the purposes of the LDS.org website. He said that the Church has to bring living water to everyone wherever they may be so that they might partake.
The evolution of the site will continue. The Church has done extensive research on users’ experiences and has garnered a lot of feedback. One of the things that members want is a daily uplifting message, Brother Isom said. Down the road, LDS.org might feature a daily spiritual message that can be viewed and easily shared with others through social media.
Another area of improvement is the search function on the site. Research indicated that most people were not using the internal search function on LDS.org because it wouldn’t bring up the desired results. For the past couple of months, the Church has implemented an internal search engine similar to Google. Brother Isom promised it is much improved.
In a questionnaire given to members, an open-ended question asked how LDS.org could improve. The most common suggestion was to help members be informed about all of the things available to users of the site. Brother Isom promised that the site will contain more ways for members to stay informed about new features and content so it can be enjoyed and shared with others.
During the October 2011 general conference, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “The Church also attracts attention on the Internet, which, as you know, has dramatically changed the way people share information. At all times of the day across the entire world, the Church and its teachings are being discussed on the Internet, on blogs and social networks, by people who have never written for a newspaper or a magazine. They are making videos and sharing them online. These are ordinary people—both members of our faith and of other faiths—who are talking about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Changes in the way we communicate partly explain why we ‘Mormons’ are more visible than ever.”