(to appear in Oct 2012 Newsletter)
“Our Congregation's New Front Door”
In this century, many visitors explore a congregation’s web site, even before visiting in person. An increasing number of those visitors -- and even some RVUUFians -- use smartphones and tablets. Our website was redesigned 5 years ago with primarily desktop computers of the 1990s in mind. (Did you know that RVUUF has had a web site since 1996? http://rvuuf.org/web-site-history) Now, however, it clips content and requires much scrolling on today's much smaller screens -- not very accessible or welcoming. In addition, that design was beginning to look cluttered and dated. How could we address these challenges easily?
To the Rescue: “Responsive Web Design”
Our web software (Drupal) supports “adaptive themes” which enables pages to adapt to different screen sizes by “automagically” shifting blocks of text and graphics, and changing the size of elements. After installing the new free (!) tools in early September, we changed to cascading dropdown menus, and rearranged the page layout. It worked: we could easily switch among several themes and color schemes -- but which to choose, which font size, where to place various elements, etc.? With the communication/design eyes of Rev. Leslie, Deborah Rothschild and Jackie Rosen, and mobile testing by Susan Marsden and Sharon Wieczorek, we converged on a more modern design that is a clear improvement over the old design, with the flexibility to change as our needs change. We will continue to fine-tune the menus and layout as it becomes clearer which information should be added and emphasized. For technical details: http://rvuuf.org/web-site-recent-updates
“The Only One Who Likes Change is a Wet Baby”
The good news is that the content hasn't changed. Yes, we do have a newfangled interface: menus and information blocks have moved around. Hopefully, you'll find the new layout easy to look at and use, especially on a smartphone or iPad, and even on a desktop computer. In addition to the menus and Search, there's a new Site Index (under Home menu) for finding information. For a summary of the layout: http://rvuuf.org/web-site-layout
“Old Wine in New Bottles”
The bad news is that the content hasn't changed. Many underlying pages are woefully out of date, even though they have a new look. How can you help? If you're in a committee or group, review and revise your page(s). You’ll find it under Congregation, and then your COM Ministry. Perhaps you'd like to adopt and rewrite one of the miscellaneous pages about RVUUF or Unitarian Universalism. For specifics about updating: http://rvuuf.org/web-site-updating-content
Take a few minutes to visit our site and see what the buzz is about. Browse a page you haven’t seen before, or one involving a group you care about. Send in updates. We hope you find the evolving design an exciting and worthwhile improvement.
Steve Weyer, Web Administrator