LDS.org being modified

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    By Cortney Bean

    Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are updating and improving the lds.org Web site where members and friends of the church can find many helpful resources.

    Under the direction of the Priesthood Executive Council, chaired by Elder Jeffery R. Holland and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, programmers and engineers redesigned the Web services to provide simplified navigation, broader searching capabilities, translation into 10 languages and more interactive resources. The new features will be available in early 2005.

    Director of the Internet Coordination Group, Larry Richman, said the process of redesign started nearly a year and a half ago. Lds.org receives one million new visitors every month and those who use the Web site view approximately nine pages on average.

    “It”s now grown to the point that it”s got to be rebuilt from the ground up,” Richman said. “It”s a lot smarter way to build a Web site, frankly.”

    Established in July 1999, lds.org was created as “a more unified front” to replace the various Web sites posted by wards and individuals, said Azurdee Veigel, office manager in the Office of Application, Design and Development for the LDS Church.

    Currently lds.org only allows for English navigation. When the new site is updated it will provide full site navigation and content in 10 languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

    Also, the Web site”s limited searching capabilities will expand to enable users to search anywhere on the site in any of those 10 languages. Many of these improvements are a result of suggestions made by those who use the Web site.

    “We read all feedback, categorize, and monitor it,” Richman said.

    Suggestions from focus groups and surveys contributed to the changes under way, he said. Users will assist in conducting tests before the new site is launched.

    One new feature already available to users is the Church Music site.

    All church-published music – hymns, primary songs, and new compositions – are available to listen to, download, and read. Users can print the music and text, listen to live recordings, change the key, break a song into parts and even transpose parts of a song. Training videos are also available to learn how to lead music as well.

    These features and other new Web features can be previewed by going to lds.org and clicking on the “Highlights” link.

    The most frequently used resources currently available on lds.org are the gospel library, scriptures, ward and stake Web sites and the online Distribution Center.

    Ward and stake Web sites provide information, calendars and directories for member use. Access to these sites requires a login name and password.

    Lead engineer, Ryan Day, said each ward or stake should have a Web administrator who has access to their assigned Web site for updates and regulation.

    By contacting the ward membership clerk, each member can retrieve a copy of his or her individual ordinance record, which provides the information necessary to register, he said. Then they can obtain a login for their ward and stake sites. The login protects members from those who might access information unnecessarily, Day said.

    The Content Provider”s Team, comprised of representatives from departments such as family history, welfare, missionary and other groups, determine what modifications and improvements are needed.

    One addition to lds.org includes an interactive site to provide training in various callings, Richman said. Reference books, handbooks, and Power Point training lessons are a few features he said it includes.

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