Exploring the New LDS Website

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I’ve had some time to explore the new LDS website (new.lds.org for the time being). I love the look and the overall layout. It is more image-heavy, which is a positive move that follows the general Web trend. Most people have access to high speed internet now, which allows for higher quality and more elegant websites. Navigation of the site is simple with the main destinations within a few clicks.

Here are screenshots demonstrating a few of the features:

Here is the new homepage. It is a “magazine layout” design with a rotating set of featured news stories. In the upper right is the link to take you to your LDS account sign-in. If you do not have an account you will need to create one, which requires your membership record number (ask your ward membership clerk) and your date of birth. However, people who are not members of the LDS Church can also create an LDS Account that will provide them a way to utilize a few of the tools of the site (scripture notes, highlighting, and so forth). Once you are logged in to the site, you will have access to some of the tools. I’ll briefly discuss options.

First, don’t forget to look at the footer for popular content as well as some other resources. Everything is self-explanatory.

Let’s move on to one great feature: instant search results. As you search you get some results instantly; there is the option to do a more advanced search but the recommended (instant) results should be a great place to start.

Here is a screenshot of the Menu toolbar; it is the main navigation center of the site:

Then, under Tools LDS Church members see the following:

One thing to note is the link to order you a copy of your Patriarchal Blessing. You can also order a copy (sent via postal service) of any blessings of deceased direct line ancestors (grandparents, great-grandparents, etc). This is something I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out the Church was planning on this feature.

Another Tools feature I like is the updated maps and church directories sites. You can see an outline of your ward (and stake plus other wards in your stake) boundary. Here is an example of my stake (with LDS church buildings designated by markers on the map).

The other feature I’m excited about is the online gospel notebook. You can highlight, underline, and add comments as you read the scriptures or other other gospel resources online. See the following screenshots. You can add notes and tags as well as store your notes in different folders.

There are many new features. All these advances in technology allow the Church and Church members to have greater access to the words of the Lord through His prophets. The Church’s technology team has also included social media aspects – sharing verses on Facebook or Twitter or via email. Some of the Church’s missionary efforts have been through technology already but they are continuing to be even more technology-heavy. This is because many of us are around computers a lot, whether they are in front of us as laptops or desktops or in our pockets as smartphones or iPods or internet tablet devices (which do not necessarily all fit in pockets). We can watch General Conference just about anywhere now. Audio and video recordings of sessions are posted within hours. Text is posted within days (it is posted online on the Thursday following Conference).

Technology is a means to an end. The end in this case is the eternal life of all humankind. The Church embraces all technological advances that the Lord gives unto us if they help the message of the Restoration reach more people in more meaningful ways. The Church for the most part uses existing technologies; there is no need to recreate the wheel, so to speak. Sites like YouTube already exist so the Church uses YouTube. All science and technology are inspired by the Lord and all are given to advance His work. They can also be used for evil purposes as well, which Satan is quick to tempt people to do, but Satan always tries to distort everything good. He delights in twisting truth and purveying perniciousness and unhappiness. We need to flood the earth with that which is good and positive and godly. The new LDS website and the new Mormon.org site are part of that goal.

New Mormon.org Beta Site

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is continuing its expansion into social networking and the social web with its beta of its new Mormon.org website. Members of the Church are able to create profiles that allow them to share their testimonies and personal experiences with those who visit the website. These profiles will start to go live later this year. Here is a sample profile from the website (click on the image to enlarge it):

I think it is great the Church is trying to personalize its websites. After all, mormon.org specifically is designed for people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so it is part of the missionary work of the Church. Missionary work is always more effective when general members are involved rather than just full-time missionaries. Soon people who are not members of the LDS Church as well as those who are will be able to connect with each other through these profiles. Those who have profiles are able to link to their Facebook profiles or Twitter accounts or personal (non-business) blogs if they wish to share these links. The purpose of these new profiles is to demystify the Church by allowing normal people to share their testimonies of the Savior and of His restored Gospel.

I think it is great that the Church remains current with the times and engages new technology in ways to share the gospel and expand the habitations and tents of Zion (see Isaiah 54:2).