Dwell's Redesigned Teaching Archive

One of the most useful resources on Dwell’s website is its Bible teaching archive, offering audio, video, PowerPoints, and other options for thousands of past teachings. As always, you can reach the site through the website or you can go directly from teachings.dwellcc.org.

The teachings archive draws 1000-2000 visits a day--nearly a half-million in a year. They're not just from Dwell but from across the United States and from around the world, using it to study the Bible, prepare for teachings, and feed on the solid food of the Word of God.

With Dwell’s recent website redesign, came a complete redesign of this teaching interface, making it easier to find what you’re looking for. Dwell Senior Web Developer Marco Moreno shares more with us about what went into developing this new tool.

How would you describe this new interface, compared to the old way of searching? 

The new interface is focused on filtering instead of browsing for teachings. Users can filter by various criteria (e.g. Bible book, chapter, teacher) to more easily locate teachings of interest.

What problems did you set out to solve with this? 

It was sometimes frustrating to find a teaching that covered a particular chapter of a Bible book. It often meant browsing one series after another to locate a series that contains the desired teaching. Now you can filter on a specific book and chapter, and see at a glance all the teachings that are available.

We also sought to replace a limited and aging homegrown web application framework with one that is robust and well-supported.

How challenging was it to try to improve this? With thousands of teachings from many different sources, what hurdles did you run into? 

This has been quite a challenging project that has taken several years to complete. The biggest hurdle is to figure out how to build a new database and framework from the ground up without interrupting access to our existing teachings. It was also important not to have teaching editors duplicate their work in producing teachings. It has felt like trying to change the tires on a car while it's still moving. It also meant learning new web development paradigms and languages.

What are some features that people may not immediately notice that they may find helpful?

Some additional features include supporting multiple passages, multiple teachers, keywords and descriptions, and role-based access control. Eventually, this will allow users to log in using the same sign-on method used for the Rock (Dwell’s member database) and provide automatic access to otherwise restricted content. Internationalization--making the page functional internationally--is also a major feature we intend to utilize in order to better support our brethren around the world.  Finally, for the technically-minded, this new server also makes providing a REST API much easier, which will allow frontend developers to access our teaching content in exciting new ways.

As you see this new teaching page now in use, what are your personal thoughts about the process that has now come to fruition? 

I feel very blessed to be in a church that has so many gifted teachers and that our teachings are so rich in biblical content. Our teaching archive is a major cornerstone of our website and I'm very excited to see how these changes will be used to spread the gospel throughout the world as well as providing spiritual nourishment to enrich the lives of our brethren inside our church and elsewhere. I feel privileged to have played a part in making this happen and look forward to seeing how this content will be used by folks around the world.