In the early days of the web, most websites were informational only. For example, in 2000, if you went to LDS.org, you could read the standard works, view Church magazines, and find lesson material.
Today the experience of the web is more interactive. You’re not limited to just reading websites. In fact, many websites contain applications built directly into the browser. And the information these sites deliver is personalized to your identity and role.
For example, on LDS.org you can now sign in and view your ward directory and calendar. You can access resources specific to your calling. You can view Church buildings and sites near your location. There’s even a Study Notebook where you can highlight passages and create journal entries.
Mormon.org was recently selected by Interactive Media Awards (IMA) as one of the Top Ten Websites of the Year. IMA candidates are judged by a panel of leading web-related professionals working with the Interactive Media Council. These judges include professionals from businesses like Microsoft, Time Warner Inc., and Verizon. Notable past and present IMA winners include Adidas, Mercedes-Benz, New York Life, and Electronic Arts (EA).
On Mormon.org, members can create profiles to share their faith, experiences, and testimony with others.
The importance of this award is further validation of the changes made to mormon.org over the last two years. Senior Manager Ron Wilson said the site has always been effective in telling the world about the basic doctrines of the restored gospel, but prior to the site changes, it did not effectively introduce the outside world to the members of the Church or how Mormons live their lives.
The goal of the Salt Lake Inner City Project is to assist the poor and needy by teaching principles of temporal self-reliance. Service missionaries are called to serve under the direction of Inner City bishops and branch presidents.
For example, Janet Van Alfen, a service missionary for the Inner City mission in Salt Lake, says she and her husband recently helped one person earn his GED certificate—a beginning to opening new doors of opportunity. They helped another woman become certified as a home help care provider and later gain employment.
Typically, service missionaries are assigned to an Inner City ward or branch and given a few families or individuals to assist. Service is rendered in the form of teaching self-reliance through discussion and hands-on action. A few other areas throughout the United States have similar programs. The Inner City Project currently has over 600 service missionaries, with 300 to 400 more needed.
As we navigate the physical world, most of us have some awareness about accessibility features in place to help the disabled: ramps, elevators and lifts, adapted washrooms, and parking spaces close to buildings.
However, far fewer people are aware of the equivalent features for websites. When website accessibility features are neglected, it can prevent people with visual disabilities and the deaf or hard-of-hearing from having a useful browsing experience. Imagine visiting a website and finding the following:
All the images look like a grey square to you, because you are red-green colorblind.
The content includes podcasts and videos that you can't hear, because of an auditory disability.
The font is too small for you to read.
The Accessibility Testing – Mormon.org project aims to make Mormon.org more accessible, and ultimately to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than ever. The accessibility principles and techniques used on Mormon.org can be used for other Church websites as well.
The following is a video interview with Stephan Heilner, project lead with the Gospel Library and LDSTools iOS projects. We talk about how to help out with the iOS projects, among other things. We recorded this video at the August LDSTech Service Day.
The following is a general transcript of the video.
My Study Notebook is your own personal, private space on LDS.org to organize and study your notes from living prophets, scriptures, and the gospel library. The following video provides a short introduction to My Study Notebook.
Since 2008, the Church has allowed local leaders to direct the installation of Internet access in local meetinghouses. However, at the end of 2010, only around 50 percent of meetinghouses worldwide had enabled it. The Church is now seeking to make high-speed Internet available in about 85 percent of meetinghouses by the end of 2011.
“Local leaders who have had the Internet in their buildings believe it has been a blessing in the lives of leaders and members,” said Derek Hays, a product manager over Meetinghouse Technology. “The Church wants to make those benefits and blessings available to more members."
The LDSTech community consists of hundreds of Church employees, members, and volunteers that come together to discuss, learn about, or work on Church technology. The LDSTech site has several components — a blog, a discussion forum, a wiki, and a projects section. Each is used for a different purpose:
Blog: Informs members about the latest Church technology news and projects.
Forum: Allows members to ask questions and exchange ideas about technology.
Wiki: Hosts instructional articles and other technical information.
Projects: Allows community members to work together in teams to build software applications and other solutions.
Despite the different uses, the common theme of the LDSTech site is Church technology.