Problems, resources at unitarian.org.uk

I have a posting in the works where I ream UUA.org like a lemon for its anti-intuitive navigation and vanishing resources.
But I remembered that the UK Unitarian and Free Christians were getting a new website so thought I would review it first. Lead with something positive and all that. Thought it was a sure thing: over the last decade, as each church fellowship improved its Internet presence, the Unitarian and Free Christians’ modest site — for a denomination about 3% the size of the UUA — has always impressed me more than the UUA’s. Uh, no more. Let’s call it a draw.

New unitarian.org.uk site

I have to begin with

  1. The colors. Lord, do I really need to say anything? Can we take away half of them? Please?
  2. The cascading style sheet (CSS). Reading it, I see that the designer planned the text to be set in the Helvetica font. But by stating no alternative or font family, if you don’t have Helvetica (I don’t) you read the site in the default font, which in my case has serifs. At a minimum, the first two lines of the CSS should read like li {
    font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif;
  3. Content really not updated. Despite the new site, some links (for pamphlets say) go to very, very old content. What’s up with that?

OK, on the upside, there’s a pamphlet to download (which has too much jargon and for all its words says rather too little to an inquirer) and lots of print and Internet help — but no support; you have to hunt for real help yourself — about creating a consistent style, plus print-quality logos to download. But the local-use CSS suffers from the same Helvetica problem, making me wonder about the offerings. . .

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

7 thoughts on “Problems, resources at unitarian.org.uk”

  1. I can’t agree with you about the virtues of the previous site: always the same dismaying photos on the homepage, news which were almost 1 year old, no visible updates… I have not checked the new website yet, but after your telling that content has not been updated, I think I will wait for some more time.

    I agree with your evaluation of the new UUA website. I complained about the disappearance of most international information and the almost total lack of resources in Spanish (so much for a journey towards diversity…), but I was reassured that the website contained only a small part of the intended content and that migration was still going on. But weeks are passing and I see no relevant changes.

  2. I preferred the UK site because it delivered what it promised attractively. Now it looks like a crazy quilt with candles.

    Sure it didn’t have as much — and I agree about the ancient photos and news — but for the British Unitarians’ size, I liked it. I prefer the new one, say, to the websites of comparably-sized Canadian Unitarian Council or the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

  3. Ha ha! I’ve been meaning to blog on this, and wanted to get your opinion on the site since its been up.

    It has diappointed me. Mainly because it isn’t actually new. They did have a design for a different website a year ago, but that would have needed a permanent paid webmaster to maintain I was told so they scrapped it. Apparently this site is easy to update so they will be able to do it. Let’s hope it gets done soon and often. I’ll probably have some more thoughts on this later.

  4. Since writing the original blog post, I reviewed the text templates. Rubbish. Some default templates with the new logo and fake details. Assuming you have the skill to customize these in the first place, it would be easier to make something special for your church from scratch.

    Also, the main page is built on tables. What is this, 1999? I wrote about this at http://boyinthebands.com/archives/uuaorg-degrades-nicely/ because UUA.org moved from tables to a logical, orderly divisions. Heck — Blogger can do it. It should be a required web design skill.

    I’m not done.

  5. I’m so glad I’m not the only one that wondered what in the world the UUA was thinking with the new website. At least before I could remember where relevant information was. Now it isn’t clear where it is and I don’t know where it is kept. I’m not trying to be mean, but seriously, is it that hard just to hire a really good web designer and say “Make this look good and make finding things obvious.” I guess it must be harder than I think. Sigh.

  6. Good web design is not at all easy.

    A lot of what you may be expecting to find on UUA.org may not actually be there yet: Only a small fraction of the content has been published on the new site so far, but the general principle of organizing material by audience should make most of the content easier to find than before — once it’s there.

  7. Sorry Philo, I’m not buying it the easier-by-constituency logic. The last-but-one version of the Episcopal Church’s site tried the same thing, with a miserable dose of Flash animation to boot.

    I rejoiced when that short-lived experiment folded in favor of their new format. See it at http://www.dfms.org

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