At 12 noon on 24 May, 2003, the new website of the Salesians of Don Bosco was launched from the very rooms where the society was born at Valdocco, Turin, Italy.
Fr. Pascual Chavez, the Rector Major of the Salesian congregation, inaugurated the site with these words of explanation: "We see the internet as a blessing, like Don Bosco who wanted to be in the vanguard of progress in matters concerning the educational and evangelical use of the media of his times. This website is therefore our way of opening up to the whole world so that the richness of our charism, mission and dreams for the benefit of the world's poor youth may be shared and extended to all."
Fr. Tarcisio Scaramussa, General Councilor for Social Communications, highlighted the the objectives of the portal: "We want to create a portal that is a 'window of the congregation on the world', a 'door' through which visitors are welcome, an indispensable form of information and unity, a space of formation, of sharing, a service of the project of animation and government of the Congregation, a source of information on the salesian charism and an instrument of mobilizing the society in favour of youth especially those who are poorer."
Sr. Reungoat Yvonne, Vicar General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was among the guests along with Salesian Family members and benefactors. Fr. Pietro Migliasso, the provincial of the Piedmont circumscription had the honour of welcoming the distinguished gathering.
ABOUT THE SITE:
The site - www.sdb.org , is user-friendly with some attractive features both in Content and Technology.
It offers a wide range of content. It is easy to navigate, especially when one understands that all the information available is divided into two key areas. The first contains information addressed to a general audience (from a simple knowledge about the Salesians, their history, their educational philosophy, their spiritual heritage, their membership as a family of 21 groups and an invitation to participate in their mission in 8 different ways). The second contains information regarding the organization itself (its leadership, its organizational structure, the regions within which it operates and its official documents.) Included in this second area is a space for the sharing of 'resources' among members from different countries. The Links section offers an enormous list of sites - some 800 - that connect directly to Salesian websites across the world.
The site is also technically rich. It is quick to download. It is available in 5 languages, with the additional advantage of each page opening up directly in the language of one's choice. It has a quick and powerful search engine in all five languages. Its pages that connect the user to e-mail and site addresses have usable selection codes.
The aesthetics of the site is simple yet rich with meaning. Fr. Peter Gonsalves, the designer and coordinator of the project, explains: "The colours blue and orange symbolically represent the two poles within which we live out our Salesian charism and mission. Blue signifies our ideals and our dreams for the young - patterned after the dreams, inspiration and teachings of Don Bosco. They reach out to embrace and bless. Orange signifies the earth - the space and time within which we strive to make our dreams for youth become a reality. Within these two poles we strive to be fully Salesian and fully with the times through this renewed cyber adventure."
The technical execution of the project was carried out by Ipermedia Servizi - the company that was well aware of the exigencies of the Salesians, due to their previous involvement in the creation of the old site.
The translations in 5 languages have been carried out through a global network among 14 Salesians across the globe who communicated daily from nations as diverse as Fiji, India, Italy, France, Spain, Brazil and Ireland.
On the first day of the inauguration the site registered 843 hits. It is hoped that by July-end it will function as a portal that offers more advanced facilities especially to Salesians and members of the Salesian Family.
RESEARCH BEHIND THE NEW SITE:
Three studies were conducted in order to lay out the essential criteria that would shape the conceptualisation, designing and development of the site.
Between 9 October to 13 November, 2002, a random opinion poll, to receive feedback from Salesians and visitors on the old site, was organized. A total of 673 persons shared valuable suggestions. (see the results of the poll)
On November 29, a general meeting of all offices at the Casa Generalizia was held in which plans for the new site were explained to all the members. The days that followed were spent in taking note of the specific needs of the various departments at the Casa Generalizia. There were 15 meetings in all.
Moreover, in February 2003, an opportunity to listen to what young salesians had to contribute presented itself in the form of an action research study under the aegis of the British Film Institute and Open University of London. Salesians between the ages 25 - 45 were invited to join a Web-Study programme via the Internet. About 35 participants from 16 different countries joined the course and 15 completed it successfully. (Visit the Web-study)
The top five criteria that recurred through the results of the above three studies are:
1. A multi lingual website and one that reveals the international character of the society.
2. A site that is lively and colourful to look at - demonstrating its option for youth.
3. A site containing information that is rich, accurate and updated.
4. A site that is quick to download and easy to navigate.
5. A site that reinforces global interaction among Salesians and members of the Salesian Family.
THE ANS SITE:
The new portal offers a special site dedicated to ANS, the International Salesian Information Agency. Like the principal site, the contents are in five languages. Taking its inspiration from the colours in the ANS logo, each of the features it offers is decorated in special colours. This also makes it easy for the user to recognize within which section he or she is.
The features are a variety: ANS News, ANS Foto, ANS Video, ANS Service ANS Agenda. Requests for ANS N7 (bi-weekly news dispatches by e-mail) and ANS Digital Photo (photo dispatches by e-mail) are also included. A special feature called ANS Club, is expected to be in operation soon. It will offer Editors of Salesian Bulletins and Salesian Publishers the exclusive use of ANS photographs at higher resolutions.
This site is developed and maintained by Fr. Renato Butera, Director of ANS with the technical support of Ipermedia Servizi and design by Massimo My EDI.