I have the extreme pleasure of working for the LDS Church, particularly with the Seminaries and Institutes department. So I’d like to use this forum to tell you about the recently re-launched LDS Seminary site and LDS Institute site. These new sites are the product of many months of labor by me and a whole team of great people at the Church. The release of these sites gives me much satisfaction and joy. We expect the new sites to provide a superior experience for all visitors.
The casual observer may not notice huge changes to the sites; the look and feel of the sites is basically unchanged from the previous version. But under the hood, the sites are completely new. They are better organized and have several improved features. Let me review some of the highlights:
- Elder Ballard Seminary welcome video: A new series of videos from Elder Ballard welcoming Seminary students to a new year to study the New Testament is now posted.
- Video downloads: All videos now have a download option, something end users have long been asking for.
- Sharing Tools: Social media sharing icons and other sharing tools are now located on each page to allow users to share content via email, or on their favorite social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Site Search: Each site now has a search feature, which the old sites did not have. Internal site search provides faster and easier access to the specific content users are looking for.
- New Menus: Both sites have new drop down menus based on a new information architecture (basically this means we have re-organized the site to provide faster and easier access to content).
- Bread Crumbs: Bread crumb paths are standard for all pages in both sites now. Bread crumbs make it easier for users to navigate the site, understand where they are in context of the larger site, and find the content they are looking for.
- SEO: The sites and individual page content are now much more search engine optimized (SEO). We cleaned up page headlines and titles, restructured content, and better optimized the URLs.
Please go check out the new sites.
As I have written about before, the LDS Church Seminary and Institute programs are great mission preparation tools that all future missionaries should take advantage of. Below are some reminders from our prophets and apostles on the importance of seminary and institute in mission prep. Read these and more quotes from the prophets on the Seminary quotes page and Institute quotes page, on the Seminary and Institute sites, respectively.
“Seminary will help you to understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will feel the Spirit of the Lord as you learn to love the scriptures. You will prepare yourselves for the temple and for missionary service. Young people, I ask you to participate in seminary. Study your scriptures daily. Listen to your teachers carefully. Apply what you learn prayerfully.” (Participate in Seminary, President Thomas S. Monson, August 12, 2011)
“Should you choose to serve a full-time mission, you will have a foundation for it. The seminary programs will help you as a young man or woman to lay a foundation for happiness and success in life.” (Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Liahona and Ensign, May 2006, 88.)
“For our teenage young men and women, one of the best preparations for a mission is provided by the Church through seminary and institute of religion classes. We hope you will urge your children to take part in this inspired program” (Ezra Taft Benson, Our Responsibility to Share the Gospel, Ensign, May 1985, 7).