North Georgia UMC Conference Launches New Website With Improved Search


Near the end of the year, we partnered with the North Georgia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to redesign its website. Conference Communicator Sybil Davidson says while the old website was still very functional, it had been years since the Conference had updated its look. User use patterns had changed over the years, and the Conference saw some areas where it could improve.

Entering into the design process, North Georgia had a few objectives:

  • They wanted to redesign with the user in mind. The website sees as many as 30,000 visitors each month.
  • They didn't want to make so much of a change that their tried-and-true users couldn't find the things they were accustomed to accessing.
  • They needed a more effective search.
  • A must-have feature was "Department Pages:" They wanted to be able to create dynamic pages that would allow them to tag a staff person, relevant events, relevant news stories, and quick links. And, most importantly, for those events to roll off the page after they ended.
  • North Georgia's IT and Communications staff are very collaborative and wanted this project to be a success from both perspectives.

Additionally, Davidson says they used Conference
Google Analytics, Hotjar, and survey feedback for direction as they imagined the new site. The data-based approach proved worthwhile: Davidson says initially, her inclination was to drop the Resources webpage because the entire website is truly resources. Using website analytics, she discovered the page was highly trafficked, yet it didn't get users to what they were searching for. She decided to ditch the original page organization and instead list items A-to-Z. Now, the page is even busier post-website redesign!

The new website design is flexible, fresh, and more user friendly, but Davidson says the search is the best part. Admins can manipulate the results to tag pages and information that they know users are searching for. For instance, given the time of year, they know people are looking for End of Year Reports right now. They added search terms like "EOY" to point users directly to the page they're looking for. Read more about North Georgia's new and improved search in this article.

"This project makes me even more appreciative of our United Methodist connection and Brick River colleagues," Davidson says. "We were inspired by many of you! I think the North Georgia site borrowed ideas from the Missouri Conference, Florida Conference, and North Alabama Conference and others!"