It has been about five years since the current LDS.org was launched, bringing entire databases of resources directly to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the Internet has changed drastically since then, and as technology’s capabilities increase, so do the possibilities for LDS.org.
New.LDS.org, which will eventually replace the existing LDS.org, has been designed to incorporate some of the Internet’s strengths, becoming more visually engaging, more useful to members, and easier to navigate.
Some areas of the site are still in development. As Church members use new.LDS.org, developers will continue to make improvements until the site replaces LDS.org in coming months.
The creation of the new site was also a good time for Church leaders to refocus the site’s strategy.
“We’ve had LDS.org for many years, but its content has been driven more by what Church departments need to communicate than by the audience’s needs,” said Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy. “In designing this site, we asked, ‘What do Church members need, and how can the Church help them?’”
The new LDS.org will focus on emphasizing the teachings of living prophets, facilitating online gospel study, providing ways to share the gospel, making materials easier to find, and translating content into several languages.
Teachings of Living Prophets
With so many voices on the Internet competing for attention, new.LDS.org focuses on bringing one voice to the forefront—the prophetic voice.
Lee Gibbons, director of LDS.org, said the intent is to give the teachings of modern prophets prominence not simply by saturating the site with the teachings of Church leaders but by creating a “gateway” that focuses on what they are teaching today.
“If we were to simply permeate the entire site with [the prophetic voice], it might be difficult to know what’s new or what’s been said recently,” Brother Gibbons said.
The new Prophets and Apostles Speak Today section of the site will act as “the gateway to what they’ve said [though their messages may be housed in different areas of] the site, in the family section or other areas, [including] the Ensign. We will highlight those things and bring them to the fore in Prophets and Apostles Speak Today,” Brother Gibbons said.
By featuring recent messages and providing personal insights into the lives of the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the site attempts to “capture their ministry and their influence felt throughout the Church,” Brother Gibbons said.
Tools for Online Gospel Study
The previous version of LDS.org provided access to the scriptures and other Church materials, but the new site provides additional tools for online study.
By signing into the site using an LDS account (see accompanying information), users can highlight and underline passages, take notes, keep a study journal, and organize materials into files for later use. These features are available for all content in the Study area of the site, which includes the scriptures, general conference, lesson manuals, Church magazines, and more.
“The personal study tools have been greatly expanded and personalized,” Elder Christensen said. “When you find a talk, you have a way to link it to other things you’re studying. Then, in preparing to teach others, you’re able to share those things that you’ve found. So, finding, personalizing, and sharing that information will be easier.”
Sharing the Gospel
Content on the new site is media rich, using video, audio, photography, gospel art, and other graphics to communicate the gospel message. But the content isn’t only there to benefit members of the Church. It, like the gospel, is to be shared. Most of the site’s content is integrated with popular social networking sites and e-mail so users can easily share content and direct their friends to learn more about the gospel.
“We’ve made it very easy to share text, video, and commentary. We want to make it so it’s transparent. It’s already there for the world to see. But we want people to do a better job of sharing it with others and having conversations about the words of the prophets,” Elder Christensen said.
LDS.org will provide an opportunity for Church members to share the gospel, helping them to do their part in missionary work. “There’s not only an opportunity, but perhaps a call to action that they should be doing more that way. Elder [M. Russell] Ballard [of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles] said to join the conversation. We’re trying to enable that,” Brother Gibbons said.
New Search Capability
Along with the gospel study features and the social media integration, one of the most important functions that has been improved in the new LDS.org is the site’s search capabilities.
Beneath the new content offered on new.LDS.org lie the vast archives previously available to members. But with new search capabilities, it should be easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.
The search bar, available at the top of nearly every page on the site, returns a short list of recommended results as users type. The results for many frequently searched topics have been hand-selected. If those results are not satisfactory, completing the search leads users to a comprehensive listing of all materials that match the search terms.
The results page also suggests synonyms that may return better results and provides options for refining searches.
New.LDS.org is a Web site for the worldwide Church, and thus will be rolled out in stages in 11 different languages as the translations are finalized and approved. Approximately 90 percent of Church members speak one of these 11 languages: Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
Area presidencies will have the option of customizing LDS.org for their areas, helping get pertinent information to members of the Church throughout the world.
Elder Ballard has said, “It is my judgment that much success will come as we become more expert and more able to harness the wonderful technology that our Heavenly Father has given man to proclaim His message” (“Filling the World with Goodness and Truth,” Ensign, July 1996, 12).
As technologies like the Internet improve and members of the Church use them in positive ways, that success can become a reality.