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Best web design revamp I've ever seen

I told Jason this is the best web design I've ever seen, revamp or otherwise, at least from the beauty of the look and feel, the "moving parts", the way the site reflects the institution it represents.  As second-mousers, we like to look at websites like this and learn from them.

St. John Cantius Catholic Church

We have an interest in this genre of web design, since we do a lot of work on Catholic web sites of various organizations.  I have visited this website in the past, and though I enjoyed looking at the pictures from the renovation of the church (amazing what they have done there!) and I listened to MP3s of the choir and even bought a CD, the website itself was not real eye-catching or easy to navigate at that point in time.  They have recently redone it, and the website revamp is very impressive. 

The first thing that hits you is the overall layout.  It looks like everything is contained within columns with great scrollwork.  At the top, seemingly underneath the arch at the top of the page, a slideshow displays some of the beauty of the church.  There are two navigation menus.  One is at the very top of the page going across horizontally.  These are some of your "old stand-by" items, like about us and contact us, with a few that are probably of popular interest, like a link to information about the religious order that runs the church, the youth and young adults (it stands to reason that they are among the largest group that will visit the website), and the store and information about donating money to the church.  This nav bar is outside the main architectural motif of the page.

The other navigation is contained within the motif, just underneath the slide-show.  It is in what I'd call the "file tab" format.  The link for the page you are on is a light color, while the other options are a darker color.  Yet the link for the page you are on has a tiny detail of scrollwork in the corners of it.  Little touches like this just make this design.  The frames around the side-bars of information are a similar high-design touch.  The first letter of the main body of the text on each page has been overlayed by a graphic representation of the letter (one thinks of the way medievel monks would embellish the manuscripts they copied). 

Fancy, fancy, fancy!  Yet all the pertinent information you would need as a new visitor to the parish is there... the schedule, directions, what kind of groups you could connect with, etc. 

Beautiful photography is key to this design.  I learned how important this element is when I revamped my parent's bed and breakfast website.  My mother had hired a local professional photographer, a man who already had expressed an interest in photographing the house, to come in and do new pictures for the website.  The digital images he produced were huge, but because of their quality I was able to keep the quality when I reduced them down to manageable size and include sharp, eye-catching slide-shows with each guest room of the bed and breakfast, as well as all the common areas.  You notice the same at St. John Cantius.  Someone who knew what they were doing did the photography there, and it is fantastic.

If you've noticed some stunning web designs out there lately, I'd love to hear about them.  Always on the look-out for beauty on the web.

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