Not too long ago, Saint Pope John Paul II called for a New Evangelization in the Church, to proclaim the gospel with “new ardor, method and expression.” FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, stepped up to the plate. The founder, Curtis Martin, had the incredible opportunity to meet JPII on one occasion, and the beloved Saint listened carefully and simply told Curtis, “Be Soldiers.”
Since then, FOCUS has expanded to over 113 campuses across the United States. With over 500 missionaries on staff, FOCUS sends thousands of students on local and overseas missions and has more than 20,000 alumni -- that’s almost a 2:1 ratio of FOCUS alumni to every parish in the US! Needless to say, FOCUS is a major player in the New Evangelization not just in the United States, but around the world.
FOCUS’ website is a high-traffic, multi-faceted site. Visitors range from blog readers, donors, students, parents, missionaries, chaplains… the list goes on. The good news is that lots of people regularly frequent the site. The challenge, however, is that unless you know exactly where to go and how to maneuver an intricate web maze, it’s not as intuitive to navigate from point A to point B. We met with the FOCUS team and they told us about the changes they’d like to see, changes to the way they present themselves online. We needed a game plan to marry FOCUS’ amazing mission strategy with a beautiful and creative way to present the ministry to the world. Challenge accepted.
FOCUS is no doubt one of the most successful and influential ministries in the Church today. The missionaries are doing an amazing job of reaching students around the world and introducing them to the person of Jesus Christ. This ministry is possible because of God’s provision through the generous support of donors and benefactors, so the FOCUS team needed a relevant tool that they can use to effectively communicate WHY they do what they do. While it is important to communicate the message of the Gospel, it’s also important to effectively communicate WHY proclaiming this Gospel is important. We wrote and produced a short video to communicate just that. The result is a beautiful short film that takes the viewer on an emotional journey that effectively communicates the Church’s need to respond to call for a New Evangelization.
Before jumping into the website, we conducted a 5-day Design Sprint (thanks, Google Ventures!) to strategically plan out what it is we want to achieve and how we are going to get there. Our team flew down to Denver and worked with the FOCUS team. It was an intensive 5-day process of dreaming, user journey mapping, drawing, “crazy-eights-ing”, voting and prototyping. Coffee and Post-Its were abundant. What came at the end of the process was the decision to create two main user journeys: one for students and another for benefactors.
After we came back from Denver, we immediately set to work. Thanks to the Sprint, we had a clear idea of how to map out two intentional sites for FOCUS. We honed language and tone, carefully selected images and played with the layout based on the user journey that was decided during the Sprint. The student website is focused on the emotional needs of students to help them find relevant information - from FOCUS campus locations, blog articles, mission trips, and employment opportunities. We incorporated a “human element” to the mix by adding photos of real campus missionaries on the home page -- allowing students to virtually “meet” the missionary that they can find on their campus. We also added the feature of identifying the geolocation of each visitor to help him find his nearest FOCUS campus. Shortly before the end of 2015, focusoncampus.org went live.
Meanwhile, we re-launched focus.org to specifically target non-students like benefactors, parents and chaplains. We made FOCUS’ mission clear by helping them understand why FOCUS’ ministry is needed in the world. We needed to communicate the heart behind the ministry and engage visitors on an emotional level right from the get-go, so we added the video in the home page journey. Missionaries may also use the home page as a tool to share FOCUS’ vision and mission with potential donors. Lastly, we also enhanced the donation journey and began simplifying the donation process.
Since the implementation of two new intentional websites, FOCUS has seen an increase of 10,000 users per month. FOCUS conveys who they are, what they do, and how it’s relevant to the user - all within a few seconds from the first click. Students are invited into genuine and fun peer connection tied with the Gospel, while donors are taken to a short film that leads them to the real urgency of the New Evangelization and the tangible impact of their support. As we created a more intuitive donation journey, the number of users who followed through to give financially actually doubled in number. Because FOCUS knows how to share WHY they do what they do, users are led to understand the necessity of the ministry, and of their own involvement in sharing the real live Gospel here and now.