I wanted to find out what was the best congregational website in the Unitarian Universalist Association as a way of highlighting a good work and encouraging others to excellence.
First, I looked at every website linked from UUA.org. I intended to keep culling them until I had a list of ten that I would review. But I accidentially deleted the cull when I got down to about thirty.
That’s just as well. You see, I kept coming back to the same site and though “I really like this one.” Now, there are more elaborate sites, cuter sites, and technologically more advanced sites, but this one stood out. It even made me want to visit. Just as important, it represents a congregation of sixty-four members, which I think is significant given the resources larger churches can muster.
So which is it?
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harrisonburg Virginia
- It is clean. No animated wigits. No Flash animation. No audio attack. Appropriate use of images. The site is table-based (not my favorite) but lean. The URL is memorable, and there isn’t a ad in sight. (I would loose the UUA banner.) That’s a pretty rare combo.
- It is useful to both visitors and members. Non-members get everything from directions and dress code to building rental options. Members get calenders, bylaws, and community events. Most of the sites I saw might as well say “Members only.”
- You know who and where they are. First, in the literal sense. Some sites seem bashful to state where the church is. The title — across the top of your browser — in most sites was something unhelpful like “Welcome!” or “UUFF.” The address wouldn’t be on the front page. Had you Googled in, you mightn’t know if this church was in your area. Inside the site you can read more about them — I would put local history and identity in “About Us” above the UUA — and you get a good sense of their character. (Which I also like.)
- They keep the important stuff “above the fold.” Like the fold of the front page of a newspaper. Theirs currently feaure hte name, the Sunday’s service, news about a forthcoming congregational meeting, a search box, a cute tagline (“A Caring Community Supporting the Freedom to Believe”), the most important links and some questions that would likely appeal to a seeker. Perfect.
- The details work. The congregational picture is the congregation on the steps of their building. This is almost always the best option. But most congregations choose a picture of the inside or outside of the building — never a lively looking building — or some representative member. I don’t think that’s wise either, since its bound to make someone feel excluded. A couple of churches even indulged in using what were obviously photos from an image service: the website equivalent of leaving in place the pictures that come with a frame. Tisk, tisk.
Oh, I suppose there are more things I really liked about this site, and I may expand this entry. Until then, take a look for yourself, and go and do likewise.
As the volunteer webmaster for this site, THANK YOU! Makes all the hard work, worthwhile.
I second your vote! Pat is a terrific webmaster, even though we are not always so good about getting her the info (I swear she has to use ESP to figure out when and where we have some of our meetings– and she gets it right, too!).
Pat has also been the Head of our Sunday Programs this past year and has made a real impact with her organizational skills.
For Pat and all the other wonderful volunteers in so many of our churches! Hip, Hip, Hooray!!
-Rev Byrd Tetzlaff
The site is table-based (not my favorite) but lean.
Hi Scott, I’ve played around with the website using css to layout the page. It can be viewed here http://huuweb.org/csshuu/
Since I had just finished converting to the newer site and am still working on the sermons, it may be sometime before I use this design but thought I would see what might be possible. Your comments are welcome.
Hi, I was reading your comments and wondered why you suggested that the Harrisonburg church lose the UUA banner. I ask because it’s a resource that was highly requested from us by Congregational webmasters and I’m wondering what about it turned you off. Thanks!
UUA Office of Electronic Communication
With all due respect, I prefer a front page that has far less text, which makes my eyes feel like they don’t know where to look.