The History of LDS.org Shows God's hands - Part 2 of 2 Print E-mail
Written by G.C. Duerden and Ben Groen)   
Friday, 30 May 2014

The Church has updated its flagship site, LDS.org, many times since it was first created in 1996. From a basic domain-claiming site in the early days of the Web to today’s robust, information-rich experience, the Church has offered more and more content to members and to the world.

Part 1 of this article reviewed the development of the Church’s public face via technology, from the early days of radio to the earliest developments of an Internet presence.)

The year 2000 also saw major redesigns and content added to the website. The Church’s message called “The Living Christ” was posted on January 1, 2000, followed by the first Internet version of the scriptures in May of the same year.

The conversion of the scriptures from a print version to an online version proved to be very beneficial. Errors were revealed such as wrong references and typos. The Church was able to clean up the scriptures by posting them online.

At the turn of the millennium, the website shifted focus a bit. Designers allowed it to be more dynamic, allowing users to customize content. Ideas for features such as a youth site, a portal, feedback, calendar, news were planned. Some of these ideas are only now being launched.

The goal was to release the new site on June 30, 2000. Using a content management system put out by Vignette, and a language called Tcl, the site was created. It presented huge challenges to the Church and developers. The site required major hardware upgrades. With less than a week to go before launch, the website was still not functional.

One problem was so difficult that Vignette experts were called in for support, but the result was many of hours of work with no success. Ultimately, the consultants gave up and went back to their hotel, at which point the remaining team members made it a matter of prayer. Within a half an hour, ideas came in and the problem was solved.

 On June 30, Elder L. Tom Perry pushed a button that launched the website publically.

By July 2000, the website had over 20,000 users per day. Later that year, the Church launched additional language capability for Newsroom and the LDS Catalog.

The Meetinghouse Locator not only provided support to the members but also made the Church realize that many of the addresses were out of date and wrong.

In July, the stake and ward websites were first piloted and released to the general membership.

In October 2001, in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the Church launched www.mormon.org, designed specifically for those who are not members of the Church. It was previously called “Sharing the Gospel.”

The Young Women’s general presidency helped design email pass-along cards to invite people to learn about the gospel. Elder Dallin H. Oaks announced these cards and the new website in general conference.

Within one minute of his announcement, the servers became overloaded. The IT team realized that the outage had been caused by the number of cards being sent out by individuals who were supposed to be listening to the rest of Elder Oaks’ talk.

In December 2001, the “Places to Visit” section on LDS.org was added. (Interestingly, today the “Places to Visit” section is used mostly by mobile devices.)

Country Websites were added in 2002, which allowed countries to use templates to create language-specific websites.

The Perpetual Education Fund content was also added, along with temple open house reservation systems in 2002, starting first with the Nauvoo temple.

Also in 2002, LDS.org went down for three days due to some tables that were deleted in a database. During the outage, backups failed and a new program was created to ensure that major outages would never happen again.

Another redesign was in the making in 2003. The current website was getting too crowded, and the Church developed fly-out menus and trained all developers to use Java.

In 2007, LDS.org 2.0 website was launched.

The redesign changes from the original site to version 2.0 resulted in a lot of usability questions. With this in mind, the LDS.org 2.0 website was left up when the LDS.org 3.0 was released in November 2010. As a result, the transition to 3.0 went relatively smoothly.

The newest version of LDS.org uses an XML database with XQuery for accessing data. LDS.org 3.0 has much more advanced technology and now includes Calendar, Directory, Maps, and other tools, all of which use the internal Java stack.

 

The history of LDS.org has been full of prayerful and inspiration-driven experiences. The site has evolved along with the Web, often solving problems in innovative and award-winning ways. LDS.org has become a key method of spreading the gospel using modern tools, blessing the lives of members and non-members throughout the world. 

 

Comments  

 
# Derek Harmon 2014-06-03 18:57
What an amazing story of the hand of the Lord in the June 2000 launch! Until reading this article, I was unaware that the scriptures and church magazine archives were not available online until mid-2000. I was a struggling teenager at the time, leaning on the support of an LDS friend who introduced me to the church website in the latter half of the year 2000. That site and the wealth of information available in the church magazine archives were pivotal in my conversion. I did not meet with a missionary or attend a church meeting until 2002, but I gained a testimony of the gospel in January 2001 thanks to the knowledge I gained by studying that site for several months. I am truly humbled to think that without the inspiration received by those developers that night, it is unlikely that I would have joined the church. What a debt of gratitude I owe to those faithful servants of the Lord! If anyone reads this who was a part of those events, THANK YOU!
 
 
# Brian Davis 2014-06-10 13:15
I was also surprised to hear the timing on these events. I wanted to know whether Mormons dated outside the faith or not and read the entire mormon.org site in 2002 to find out. Of course, the answer wasn't there, but I learned all the basic doctrines of the Church online. =) My decisions to join the Church and attend BYU were also highly influenced by the ability to search past conference talks. Who knew the timing was so crucial. I sure do appreciate all the developers who helped with this also!
 
 
# Butler Marion Tyler 2014-06-10 10:11
When familysearch.org was added it sent me into another level of family history research, as well as the rest of the updates. I love the "I am a Mormon" page on mormon.org also. Thanks so much.
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-17 21:26
I have a question to those that claim...I am a mormon (dcmess@aol.com)
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-17 21:27
So much secrecy...why is that?
 
 
# Alan Smoot 技术 2014-06-18 08:07
Quoting DANIEL CUEVAS:
So much secrecy...why is that?

Daniel, I love your question. It may appear to be secret, but it really isn't. It really has to do with things that are sacred. This technical site isn't the right place for this wonderful conversation. Could I point you to http://www.mormon.org/ and click on "chat". I think you will learn some things that will be very valuable to you.
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-18 17:12
I have contacted mor.org with the chat and with two MM'S and they do not answer my question, but rather they just hang up. They could say we don't know but they just end the chat or hang up....if this religion is only true church, why no answers...very frustrating. Why someone with more kindness and information contact me? That is a big problem
 
 
# Micah Massey 2014-06-18 16:21
Wow pretty cool. It seems so strange to see the older versions that were out not too long ago.
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-18 17:15
I would like to chat with someone who claims he/she is a mormon.
dcmess@aol.com
 
 
# Butler Marion Tyler 2014-06-19 11:20
Change to Mormon.org for this and I'll be glad too.
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-20 09:08
I don't understand.
why don't you correspond with me via e-mail
dcmess@aol.com
 
 
# Butler Marion Tyler 2014-06-20 14:18
If you truly want to discuss the gospel. Call on the missionaries. Go to church and sit down with them and discuss all you need to know. If we and you are about truth, then you need to listen to the missionaries.
 
 
# Alan Smoot 技术 2014-06-20 14:55
I edited Butler Marion Tyler's post. Please keep the communication civil. Remember that talking about membership and gospel doctrine should be done on http://mormon.org. Thank you for your interest in http://tech.lds.org.
 
 
# DANIEL CUEVAS 2014-06-21 13:27
I have contacted mormon.org, but the mm's are not very well inform, even the people in the phone lines, just brush you off, if you ask about the peculiar doctrines,
definitely something wrong

dcmess@aol.com
 
 
# Alan Smoot 技术 2014-06-24 06:07
Quoting DANIEL CUEVAS:
I have contacted mormon.org, but the mm's are not very well inform, even the people in the phone lines, just brush you off, if you ask about the peculiar doctrines,
definitely something wrong

dcmess@aol.com

If mormon.org wasn't satisfactory, please invite the missionaries to your home. Again, tech.lds.org is about lds technology. On mormon.org click Visit | Meet with Missionaries.
 
 
# Julio Dominguez Juarez 2014-07-31 23:23
I liked the previous version to which is right now. I feel that is very simple. But it's my opinion.
 

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