After many months of work, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan have unveiled a new website which, according to those who developed it, offers visitors a fresh, contemporary design and an enhanced user experience.
The new-look website was developed by Sydney-based digital agency, Firefly, in collaboration with a small congregational committee.
Congregational Leader Sister Clare Condon said the previous website, developed in 2011, was due for a revamp, aesthetically and structurally, but there was also a need for the site to adapt to the changing needs of the congregation and a rapidly-changing communications environment.
“It is a challenge to keep renewing communications in this high-tech world,” she said.
The congregation’s first website was launched in 1999 and the second generation went live in 2011.
For Clare, it is important that the Sisters of the Good Samaritan have an online presence which reflects their life and mission as Catholic religious women, in a creative and contemporary way.
“We have a website so that we have a profile within the broader Church and society,” she said.
Clare hopes the new website will engage people and provide them with an “up-to-date insight into the Sisters’ commitment, lives and ministries”.
“For the congregation, I hope it will be another catalyst for connections and sharing,” she said.
The new website includes a revamped latest news and calendar section. The Good Oil, the congregation’s free, monthly e-magazine, which sits within the website, has also had a make-over. Each edition will continue to include news, feature and opinion articles and reflective content, but it’s hoped that readers will appreciate the improved presentation of content and increased functionality of the magazine.
We have a website so that we have a profile within the broader Church and society.
‘Quick-links’ from every page of the website easily connect visitors with other related Good Samaritan entities that have their own online presence, such as the Good Samaritan Foundation, Mount St Benedict Centre, Good Samaritan Education, the Good Samaritan Inn, and Wivenhoe Conservation.
The new website has been optimised for mobile phones and tablets, a much-needed adaptation when people are increasingly using mobile devices to access online content. The website also incorporates the congregation’s social media presence, which at this stage includes Facebook and Twitter.
An important part of the website redevelopment process has been overhauling the Sisters’ intranet facility, their ‘members-only’ information hub, so that it is easier for each sister to navigate. In the near future, oblates will be able to access the intranet, too.
“Our website has internal use as well as external and we hope that the internal section is more accessible and the sisters have told us that it is,” said Sister Catherine McCahill, who worked on the committee to develop the new website.
Like Clare, Catherine sees the congregation’s online presence as an important means to “engage with our contemporary world”, and she hopes the new website will engage with a wider audience.
“It is a site of connection with and between sisters, oblates (women and men who make a commitment to Good Samaritan Benedictine spirituality) and all those with whom we engage in ministry, as friends, or in some other way. We hope that it is a way of sharing our vision and spirituality,” she said.
“Our e-magazine, The Good Oil, is located on the website. This publication provides a vehicle for engagement with several thousand subscribers who are interested in, or share our spirituality, or who want to be part of the ongoing ‘conversation’ with our writers on contemporary issues.”
According to Catherine, feedback so far about the new website has been affirming.
“Sisters and staff have been very positive about the clarity and freshness of the site and the ease of using the intranet,” she said.
Pat Hearity, a Good Samaritan Oblate from Victoria, sent in feedback soon after the website went live.
“Thank you and congratulations to all who developed our new website. It captures the core spirit and service of living the Good Sam Benedictine way in a fractured society,” she said.