The New Mormon.org

July 19, 2010
By

Do you ever visit the church’s website for members (at lds.org)? I must confess, I rarely do. It seems so…austere. And somewhat…inorganic.

So, I have to confess that as a result, I rarely (if ever) visited the church’s website for non-members (at mormon.org). I thought it would be much of the same, and I thought I’d have to be a little embarrassed for it.

…but just a few days ago, the LDS Newsroom (another church site I rarely check…grr, I’m so bad!) announced that Mormon.org had gotten a facelift. I don’t know about you, but I am in awe. Click the image (or here) to jump to it!

New Mormon.org homepage

I think the church has been trying to change its image for a while (and some of our friends in the Bloggernacle have discussed whether outside coverage on shifting Mormon perceptions is changing the average person’s viewpoint), but it’s had some misses. For example, it rang in 2009 with a new site for church youth (which [fortunately] has been quietly scuttled away, as far as I can tell — but you can still check out the video here), a site that oozed with pop and total radicality.

But for the new Mormon.org…I could be wrong…but it seems that the years of research into design, psychology, and current awareness of Mormonism paid off. You can read a fascinating account of the development of the new site here.

Here are just a few of my favorite aspects of the site.

Integration of Our People

From the first page (and even the picture that I posted), you can see that the designers of the new Mormon.org wanted people to hear regular (even if particularly attractive, talented) members. But what particularly intrigued me was the Our People page itself, where anyone can search for member testimonies and profiles by ethnicity, continent, age, gender, or even religious background. One goal of the designers at North Temple’s was to improve the perceptions of Mormons — especially of the diversity of the church membership — and I certainly think that this site has been a good step here.

Even more, member perspectives are integrated elsewhere throughout the site. Take for example the FAQ. Each topic has, in addition to the official church response, responses from various members. I’m certain that there is a certain vetting process to make sure that everything is kosher, but even in some touchy questions, there are touching, if seemingly surprising answers. (One woman answers the question regarding the church’s position on homosexuality and gay marriage by pointing out that the church does not support same-sex marriage, but does support families. She notes this has allowed her to support her mother, who is a lesbian, and her partner.)

Emphasis on Our Values

As someone who doesn’t have a testimony of every aspect of the faith, I could still be on board with the presentation of church values. The new mormon.org presents these values in such a way that most people can easily find agreement, but it does not try to present these values in a completely sterile and neutral way. The site successfully incorporates LDS perspectives, scriptures, and quotations so that they are not overbearing, but in a way that a non-member of the site could see that the church does have vibrant positions.

For example, the page on LDS valuation of freedom of choice conveys both the LDS position of official political neutrality and the LDS position of standing up for its valued moral positions. I understand that this interplay is often a raw point for some, but the site gracefully handles it.

Employment of Colors

Recently, another one of our brethren in the Bloggernacle listed the several “V” words that he found to be integral to true religion. His terms were an emotional onomatopoeia of life, love, and learning. Two words he used were verdant and vibrant — words that evoke a sense of richness to color.

This has not been lost or forgone with the new Mormon.org. I must admit that I am not a formal designer, and I am not a color psychologist, but as someone who can see and feel, I see vitality and hope from this very site. I can see some who might be skeptical — “it is just marketing; it is just pushing buttons.” But what about the fantastic art of the Renaissance? The heaven-reaching architecture? The divine melodies of the music?

I guess I’m not saying that this is the new masterpiece, but in the same way that effective design principles have always been used for emotional and spiritual direction and amplification, I feel like this site is a modern paradigm.

So, what do you think? Am I totally off the mark? Do you think that this will have any effect on nonmembers’ perceptions?

Tags: ,

28 Responses to The New Mormon.org

  1. July 19, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Hmm. Definitely a different approach, without not being us.

  2. jmb275
    July 19, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Yeah, I think it’s a pretty good site. I hope it has an effect on perceptions of us. It seems like every time we make progress on making our reputation better something comes along to push it backward (Prop 8, Glenn Beck, etc.). I suppose a lot of this is just the nature of being such a large organization with some questionable parts in our history.

  3. Eric
    July 19, 2010 at 8:31 am

    There are many things I like about that site. However, it appears that many of the statements by people explaining why they’re Mormon haven’t been proofread, much less edited. On the one hand, this does lend a certain degree of authenticity … but it is also jarring to see such a visually appealing site with so many spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.

    It’s one thing to leave forum posts and comments unedited, as is the case on every blog I’ve seen. But when you’re featuring someone’s comments in the way this site does, the content really does need to be edited.

  4. July 19, 2010 at 9:00 am

    I can definitely see some of that too, Eric.

  5. Martin
    July 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Eric, I’m not sure I agree. I think the new site is pretty cool, but it has a “Disneyland” element to it — just a little too glossy to be real. Mormonism gets lumped in with corporate America a little too much as it is. The errors in editing add an earthy authenticity.

    I also appreciate the fact the gatekeepers (whoever they are) who approve contributions allow members to share a lot of their real feelings. For example, I answered a question about temples and what happens in them, and as part of my answer I indicated that I’m not a particularly ceremonial person and find some of the ceremony to be a little silly, but that I considered my covenants I made to be sacred. Guess what? Approved with no problem.

    I think the real power of the site is the gloss combined with the authenticity.

  6. Last Lemming
    July 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I tried to filter member profiles for Europeans. I think it took every profile that mentioned Europe in any context. One woman merely stated that she hoped to see Europe one day. Real Europeans checking this out will not be impressed.

  7. July 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    re 6:

    Wow, that isn’t so good.

  8. Nick Literski
    July 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    #2:
    It seems like every time we make progress on making our reputation better something comes along to push it backward (Prop 8, Glenn Beck, etc.).

    Interesting perspective—all the progress is LDS accomplishment, while all the “push backward” is an outside force, “something” that “comes along.” Is it really so hard to notice that Glenn Beck is an LDS member, and that the LDS political promotion of Prop 8 came at the direction of Mr. Monson? Those aren’t externalities that just “came long.” They’re inside factors.

    #3:
    However, it appears that many of the statements by people explaining why they’re Mormon haven’t been proofread, much less edited. On the one hand, this does lend a certain degree of authenticity … but it is also jarring to see such a visually appealing site with so many spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.

    I’m betting every one of those spelling, punctuation and grammar errors were carefully designed to create the impression of “reality” that has been mentioned. Does anyone really believe that this material wasn’t vetted by public relations experts and test audiences?

  9. dblock
    July 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I don’t think it says one thing negative or positive about authenticity. I majored in English while at college. However, I can’t seem to edit myself. I am terrible at spelling and grammar. I think and type way to fast. Its’ easier to see the grammar mistakes that others’ make, as oppose to your owm .

  10. Nick Literski
    July 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    dblock, do you really think comments are published on an official LDS church website, without being reviewed first by church volunteers/employees? I guarantee you they’re reviewed, because if they weren’t, then the website would get flooded with critical comments.

  11. dblock
    July 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I never said that all, please read what I said, I stated that I don’t think it says anything negative or positive about an authors authenticity. I often think and type way to fast. I also stated that it is easier to find the grammar mistakes of others than our own. I stand by that.

    In the English major world its’ called flow of conscience. You just write to write, without any thought about it. You don’t pay attention to grammar, or spelling. And I had a PHD teach grammar who even admitted that spelling really doesn’t mean anything when it comes to intelligence. Its’ a skill like anything else.

  12. Nick Literski
    July 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    dblock, the clear implication of your comment was that the LDS church would never plan spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes into posted comments in order to lend an air of authenticity. I’m saying they would do so, and they’re not alone in doing so. I stand by that.

  13. dblock
    July 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    what I should have said is that I often think and type way to fast and I don’t think about the grammar and spelling aspects of it. I’m more interested in getting the main idea and or concept across. It doesn’t make it any less authentic from where I stand.

    BTW I think this correlates with speaking in public as well. I was reading a blog a few weeks ago, where the author was complaining about how people don’t enunciate or say a word properly during the Sacrament Prayer.. He complained that it made the prayer less reverent. I completely disagree with that statement because as someone who has had to deal with the results of a cleft palate, the way one sounds when speaking has nothing to do with one intelligence. It has nothing to do with weather or not one is being reverent.

    This is the same in writing, weather someone is using correct, grammar and or spelling has nothing to do with ones’ intelligence. It has nothing to do with ones’ authenticity. They are speaking from the heart

  14. July 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    i’m weary of the moderated nature of the site. While I understand the need to moderate for anti-Mormonism, profanity, etc., I get the sense that the moderation is largely manufacturing reality by controlling which Mormon’s profiles are made available. Because of this moderation, the site ends up feeling fake instead of organic and real.

    Or perhaps I’m just bitter than after 2 months my profile is still “pending review”

  15. dblock
    July 19, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    @ nick

    Unless you can read my mind, please don’t tell me what the clear implication is for what I’ve written. Instead, why don’t you ask me to clarify what I am trying to say/ Please reread what I wrote. There is no hidden agenda. I don’t think grammar and spelling issues have anything to do with authenticity issue. The two are completely unrelated. But, you are free to assume, because that is what you are going to do anyway.

  16. July 19, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    loyd/narrator:

    (understandably) bitter. No, seriously, I can see your point, but at the same time, I think this is a criticism that would mostly apply to people like us who know better. I don’t think it would appear anywhere near as “fake” or inorganic to someone just visiting the site for the first time.

    (Of course, people might be thinking what Nick has thought. But this is kinda meta…would people be so wary of the church as to suspect that the church would introduce [or allow] errors purposefully to seem more authentic?)

  17. Nick Literski
    July 19, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    the narrator, if they wanted your profile, they’d have called you to write one. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.

  18. carlos
    July 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Nick

    I’m betting every one of those spelling, punctuation and grammar errors were carefully designed to create the impression of “reality”..”

    Na, its simply a case of geeks can’t spell.

    #14,

    “Because of this moderation, the site ends up feeling fake instead of organic and real.”

    Yes I agree. Its the same moderation that happens over in tech.lds.org/forum. Its a group of active IT folk who will delete anything they considered mildly inappropriate or against church policy. They ever deleted people who asked why the priesthood session wasn’t transmitted live over the web because it was seen as ‘critical’ and second guessing church leaders and church policy.

    Ultimately that moderation ends up creating a corporate web site that only serves a publicity purpose.

  19. Cowboy
    July 20, 2010 at 8:20 am

    #08

    Nick

    Glenn Beck, externality that is highly influenced by prominent LDS figures, Skousen/Benson. The Church has been trying to distance themselves from these two figures for a long time. As a side note, I have wondered how long it will be before Beck jumps on the conspiracy that Benson’s health was manipulated against him for this very reason. Particularly seeing as how the Church corporate appears less enthusiastic about endorsing Beck as they have other prominent LDS members, such as Steve Young – or even Gladys Knight.

    Proposition 8 – Definately and inside force.

  20. Cowboy
    July 20, 2010 at 8:25 am

    “There are many things I like about that site. However, it appears that many of the statements by people explaining why they’re Mormon haven’t been proofread, much less edited. On the one hand, this does lend a certain degree of authenticity … but it is also jarring to see such a visually appealing site with so many spelling, punctuation and grammar errors”

    Forget trying to “lend a certain degree of authenticity”, and why not just appreciate that it is a small token of actual authenticity. While I think Nick is ultimately correct, that the Church is controlling which messages are posted, at the very least – good for them for not trying to make every commenter appear as something they are not. If you are going to quote somebody, you ought to let their testimony stand. After all, we are trying to convince people by providing a sense of what the general membership is like and how they reason in favor of Mormonism. If they were editing comments, that just wouldn’t be honest from point of view.

  21. dblock
    July 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I am reminded of a book titled by “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” By Mark Twain, He used dialect and speech as a means of communicating what his characters were thinking and feeling in their own skin. I don’t their messages were any less relevant.

  22. July 20, 2010 at 8:43 am

    #21

    “I am reminded of a book titled by “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” By Mark Twain, He used dialect and speech as a means of communicating what his characters were thinking and feeling in their own skin.”

    And just like the moderated Mormon.org, Huck Finn was a work of fiction.

  23. Nonafam
    July 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

    It’s funny that they have selections for “ethnicity” that don’t include non-African American blacks. In other words, if you are African, Black British, or from the Congo, you won’t be able to select your ethnicity.

  24. Nick Literski
    July 20, 2010 at 10:14 am

    #19:
    Cowboy, I think you have a good point. I’m reminded of once-upon-a-time LDS member and presidential candidate, Bo Gritz, who attracted the same sort of LDS following that Glenn Beck has (i.e. the right wing LDS members who equate these men with the likes of Captain Moroni, etc.). In the end, Gritz’ stake president spoke to him about his refusal to lawfully file federal income tax, and Gritz very publicly withdrew his membership from the LDS church, claiming that it had become an IRS collection agency. I would not be surprised at all to see Beck make a similar withdrawl, once some LDS leader finally calls him on the carpet for his shenanigans.

  25. LDS Scot
    July 28, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I think it is a wonderful site, and long may it continue. It is exactly what the church is needing. The old one was too austere.

  26. LDS Dave
    July 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Having worked directly on the site (as a website developer) I can comment on how the site works.

    The people on the site are real members who want to share their thoughts and beliefs. They are being added all the time. Any member can share their thoughts.

    There were some bugs in the first versions which sometimes made the profiles get stuck before moderation. We have been working on that. Sorry if your profile was one of those. Sometimes we can’t tell which ones they are and there are over 13,000 profiles already in differing states of completion.

    The response of the members to the invitation to share their beliefs hit us faster than we had resources to moderate.

    Moderators cannot change a profile, only suggest changes to the author where inappropriate. The author can choose what to do next.

    Moderation is mostly concerned with intellectual property issues like logos in the photos, inappropriate and incorrect content.

    Ethnicity and such are a known issue being re-looked at.

    I for one was excited that we were showing “real members” and what they believe.

    True, I am a geek that can’t spell (need a spell-checker), but I am not that prolific a writer to make all this stuff up.

  27. July 29, 2010 at 12:56 am

    LDS Dave and LDS Scot, thanks both for commenting!

    So, if someone’s profile is stuck, should they try to make a new profile, or is there any place they can go to get assistance?

  28. March 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Every woman likes of Burberry bags , if you have not it , then quickly have it .you can enter my web :http://www.burberryukbags.org