By Sean Connolly
One:Ten Communications launched its new web site for Ave Maria Press (avemariapress.com) on January 26. One:Ten (onetencommunications.com) built the site to provide a powerful Internet presence for Ave Maria at a time when technology is rapidly changing the publishing world.
Ave Maria president Tom Grady says the new site advances his company’s efforts to sell more books online and to promote online supplements for their books. The press sold 900,000 books in 2010, including Catholic high school religion textbooks, books on spirituality, resources for parish ministry and, increasingly, e-books and other digital content. Ave Maria is a 144-year-old Catholic publishing house founded by the Congregation of Holy Cross and located in Notre Dame, Indiana.
“Ave Maria came to us at a time when both publishing and education are standing at a crossroads because of the Internet,” says David Salmon (South Bend), One:Ten’s president. “This new web site puts them in a strong position to serve their current market and to benefit from future Internet-driven changes. We’re very grateful that they entrusted us with the creation of this important component of their business, and we look forward to expanding our partnership.”
One:Ten, based in South Bend, is the division of the LaSalle Company that builds web sites for businesses and specializes in serving the needs of publishers. The company has grown to 10 employees since its founding in 2006.
“One:Ten did more for us than we thought was possible,” Mr. Grady says. “I can’t imagine a more hardworking, creative, diligent and above all patient group of people.”
The new Ave Maria home page includes a carousel of moving book images, a banner with rotating ads, and news on company products, but the biggest innovation lies behind the scenes. One:Ten’s lead developer Jeremy Osterhouse designed features that give Ave Maria control over every aspect of their home page. Ave Maria employees can edit text and swap product information in and out of the page, and they have the power to alter the layout. The banner, carousel and other design elements can all be rearranged with a few mouse clicks.
“We wanted to be able to redesign the home page every day if we wanted to,” Mr. Grady says. “We wanted the look and feel of a daily newspaper.”
Click on a book image, and the site takes you to its product page. Alongside information about author, title and price are links to YouTube videos and interviews with authors, sneak peeks inside the book, related links and easy ways to spread the word about the book on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ave Maria provides students and teachers with free online supplements for many of its textbooks: classroom handouts, crossword puzzles, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, even sample tests. “These resources are important to teachers and to our business,” says Mr. Grady. “We wanted them to be available in an attractive and clear way. One:Ten did that for us.”
Another key feature: when customers order books, the site can help determine what type of customers they are (parish, individual buyer, bookstore, etc.) and offer volume discounts and other special prices accordingly. This streamlines the ordering process, says Mr. Grady.
He adds that one of the major reasons he hired One:Ten was their roots in the religious education market as part of the LaSalle Company and their background as a Christian company. “It was terrific to work with a group of people who already understand our mission. We didn’t have to instruct them in what a Catholic high school is all about, what a parish is all about, what our books are all about. Many times, after they left our meetings, we would shake our heads in relief and talk about how glad we were to be working with them.”
One:Ten computer programmer Collin Anderson (South Bend) says the feeling was mutual: “One highlight for me was building a web site for another Christian business, knowing that we were moving the kingdom of God forward together.”
Project manager Laura Ficker (South Bend) adds that she appreciated the hard work, patience and thoroughness of the Ave Maria staff. “They were a perfect fit for working with us,” she says.