Last week, the Albany Diocese launched a redesigned website in an effort to streamline existing information, provide more intuitive navigation and create moments of "encounter" for visitors to www.rcda.org.

The new website, which is mobile-friendly and includes a dynamic search of the 126 parishes throughout the 14-county Diocese, is aimed at both Catholics in the pews and people inquiring about the Catholic faith or a local parish for the first time.

"We are called to 'Go and make disciples.' That means meeting people where they are, even if it's on a website," said Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. "We don't simply want to provide facts and information; we want to provide an opportunity for people to make a personal connection with our staff and, through that connection, to experience the love and mercy of Jesus Christ at work in their lives."

The website's new design makes it easy to search out necessary information, said diocesan officials. The homepage has photo icons that link to some of the most popular pages and the Diocese's key partner organizations.

New features on the site include:

•  a "How do I..." drop-down menu that covers such topics as becoming a Catholic, becoming a priest, finding a parish, getting tickets to a papal audience or making a donation;

•  a timeline of the Diocese's history;

•  individual pages for each of the 157 worship sites across the Diocese's 10,000 square miles; and

•  pages for all diocesan offices and departments and critical ministries of particular importance to area Catholics: faith formation, marriage and family life, respect life, evangelization and more.

"After much study and careful planning, it became clear that the most sought-after information on the website were Mass times, parish listings and key ministry information. We worked closely with our designer and ­developer to create a site that is both intuitive and informational for visitors, no matter what their reason for seeking us out," said Mary DeTurris Poust, director of communications for the Diocese.

The new site design, described as "clean and contemporary," took nine months to come to fruition. Behan Communications of Glens Falls and Web ­Instinct of Saratoga Springs designed the site; all of the funding came through grants from the Whalen Foundation and diocesan Capital Campaign grants for Evangelization, Catechesis, Youth Ministry and Family Life.

Contrasting the former design with the updated one, Ms. DeTurris Poust noted: "The new website is really a digital version of the kind of approach Bishop Scharfenberger has encouraged in parishes across the Diocese: one of encounter, invitation and grassroots evangelization. Our focus is on those people who are searching: perhaps for something specific, such as a Mass time; or maybe for something more transcendent, such as a deeper connection to the life of the Church.

"Our former website was a true workhorse in that it housed many documents and files, but we wanted to move away from a file-cabinet mentality of web curating to a more dynamic approach that draws people in and inspires them to reach out."

Engagement is key, she said.

"We want to engage visitors, whether that's through email, phone calls, in-person visits or registrations. Faith is about a person-to-person experience, and we're hoping this new site will encourage and invite that kind of interaction among our staff and the people and parishes we serve throughout the Diocese," she added.

Ms. DeTurris Poust said the site "welcomes people in and makes them want to linger.

"We hope they find something that feeds them spiritually and reminds them that they are part of the body of Christ."