"We all know the story. At the dawn of the modern age there was a great conflict between two groups: bullying churchmen who preferred the darkness of faith and religion, and brave scientists who dared to usher in the light of reason and science. The second group prevailed, and the rest is history."
This is one of the most commonly held beliefs in contemporary culture today – that Science and Religion are, and always have been at odds. So when Word on Fire asked us to build a site for them where they could demonstrate just how false this idea – this modern day myth – is, we were delighted.
Working closely with Word on Fire's talented team, we created a site that would present a treasure trove of information in both written and video form, debunking the notion that Science and Religion are enemies, and serving as a gateway to the vast wealth of history on the incredibly important scientific work done by Catholics - work that has been supported by the Catholic Church throughout history! (Did you know, for example, that the Big Bang Theory was formulated by a Catholic priest?)
The "hero" section employs a multi-layered parallax effect (an effect that gives depth to the background) and graceful degradation (it still looks good on mobile devices) to subtly hint at the central thesis of the site. As you scroll down, the viewpoint changes gradually as the landscape drops away and the sky changes.
The Articles section and the Founders section both allow quick browsing until an item grabs the visitors interest. Mobile users can easily swipe through. Both of these sections are packed full of content, so they employ "lazy loading" techniques to only load resources when they are needed – meaning the site loads much faster than it otherwise would, and less bandwidth is consumed.
The site also handles color and size manipulation of the images – meaning that rather than having to create multiple versions of each image in Photoshop, editors can simply upload one image of any size and color, which is then transformed automatically.
The Back End
One of the best features of the site is one that most people will never see – the control panel. For this project we used Craft CMS. Craft is a fantastic choice of CMS for most kinds of website, but in projects like this it particularly excels. Because Craft sites are built based on content strategy rather than a preexisting model, it's possible to quickly template out totally custom ways of displaying content – whilst fitting the back-end experience exactly to the content editor's needs. In this case, knowing we had two main types of content, Articles and Founders, we were able to build a back end that lets content editors get right to work adding either of those without any confusion or delay.
Because of how straightforward it is for developers to create and edit templates in Craft, any changes to the way these content types display on the front end are simple and fast to execute. And if the site needs to be expanded in future, the flexibility of the CMS makes this an easy, efficient (and therefore less expensive) task.
Word on Fire are at the forefront of the communications renaissance that is taking place within the Church today, and this project – tackling a misunderstanding that, as the site says, is "one of the biggest reasons why people, especially young people, leave Christianity" – is exactly the kind of work that we're passionate about.
It meant a lot to us that the Word on Fire team were so happy with the end result. It's our hope that the site will be an effective instrument of evangelization and a compelling means of "proclaiming Christ in the culture."