UU Web Stuff
Fox Valley UU Fellowship, Appleton WI
Target Markets for a Church Web Site:

To me, the overwhelming top target market is the surfer searching for a church; in other words a vehicle to attract new members. There should also be a section about chaplains and their services. The next market on my list is a resource for the congregation. This would include the newsletter, Sunday service schedules, evening programs, meeting times and places, by-laws, etc., etc. Next is interactive messaging, a discussion area, a virtual coffee hour. Then there is a market for those who, for whatever reason, cannot attend the church. Facilities could include sermons and services both in audio and text. There should be opportunities for various groups such as RE, youth, social action, arts committee, etc to design and control their own content. There should be a number of listservs for board, convenors, committees and one big one for all those with email; a virtual telephone tree. In other words, a church web page should be a complete congregational asset, a central part of the church.

Overview:

I wanted to see what other churches were doing so I got on the UUA web page and accessed all UU churches with web pages (probably 700 or so) and a few non UU churches as well (one of the benefits of retirement is the time to do that sort of thing). The results, as expected ran from 404 errors (page cannot be found) to sites that were still advertising November services, to sites so poorly designed that the text was unreadable, to sites that had good intentions and were pretty well done, to sites that were beautifully conceived and executed, truly leading edge. There didn't seem to be much correlation between the size of the church and the quality of the web page.

Overview 2

In July, 2001 I again looked at the web sites of UU churches, On the good side, more churches are keeping their sites up to date with current information. More churches are getting their own domain names and more churches have pleasing looking sites. On the bad side, too many are using so-called free hosts with annoying advertising. The most disturbing thing was the high number of 404 (page not found errors.) This may mean that churches are not informing the UUA of URL changes or it may mean that the UUA is behind in updates, or it may mean that churches are abandoning web sites. Whatever the reason, it is a serious error not to have a good web presence in this day and age.

Overview 3

May 2005: More churches have their own domain name. I think that there is a slight overall quality improvement but many, if not most UU church sites are still rather poorly done. Poor design, no pictures, outdated information, too much text are some of my criticisms. Quite a few sites were removed from the good sites list below because the quality went down or did not improve with the times.

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The updated good results are below:

Northwest UU Church, Southfield Michigan http://www.northwestuu.org/

Northern Hills Fellowship, Cincinnati, OH   http://www.uunhf.org/

Oakland CA http://www.uuoakland.org/

Northwest UU Community, Houston TX    http://www.nwcuuc.org/

Elgin Illinois http://www.uuce.org/

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito   http://www.uufsd.org

Third Unitarian, Chicago http://www.thirdunitarianchurch.org/

UU Fellowship of Yellow Springs, OH  http://www.uufys.org/index.htm

UU Society of Wellesley Hills, MA http://www.ultranet.com/~uuswh/

Kirtland Ohio  http://www.eastshore.org/

First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, NY http://www.fussonline.org/ 

Saratoga Springs UU Congregation, Saratoga Springs, NY http://www.saratoga-uu.org/

White Plains New York http://www.cucwp.org/

Mission Viejo California  http://www.uucsc.org/

Deerfield Illinois http://www.nsuc.org/

Long Beach, CA  http://www.uuclb.org/  

UU Congregation of Phoenix, AZ  http://www.phoenixuu.org/

Berks County, PA http://www.uuberks.org/

South Fraser Unitarian Congregation, Surrey, British Columbia http://www.sfuc.bc.ca/sfuc/ 

UU Congregation of Atlanta   http://www.uuca.org/

First UU, San Diego  http://firstuusandiego.org/

First UU Church of Ann Arbor Michigan http://www.uuaa.org/

UU Fellowship of Ames, Iowa  http://uufames.org/

Santa Monica, CA http://www.uusm.org/

North Shore Unitarian Church, Danvers Ma. http://www.nsuu.org/

Evergreen UU Fellowship, Marysville WA http://www.evergreenuu.org

Prairyerth UU Fellowship, Illinois        http://www.prairyerth.net/

Concord, NH  http://www.concorduu.org

Mount Vernon VA http://www.mvuc.org/

UU Church, Shelter Rock, NY  http://www.uucsr.org/

UU Church of Augusta GA  http://www.uucsra.org/ 

List checked and updated on May 19 2005

Websites designed and maintained by Bert Christensen

Some recommendations:

Build for today and tomorrow and not for yesterday. Something like 70% of people are using highspeed connections. Dialup is disappearing but still keep those using 56K modems in mind..

Build for version 4 and above browsers. Well over 90% of the people visiting my site in the 1st quarter of 2001 used version 4 and above browsers. You can still have some text-based links for the other few.

Update the site AT LEAST once a week. Nothing makes me go away faster than out of date information.

Use a wysiwyg editor for design rather than a text editor. It makes the site much easier to update and it will encourage more people to take part in the design and upkeep. I happen to use FrontPage but there are several others including Dreamweaver by Macromedia.

Use pictures with people in them. Have them walking toward the church rather than away.

Use audio and/or video for some sermons. For examples, go to the Augusta GA site listed above.

Get a domain name. They are quite cheap and you can keep it even if you change internet suppliers

Consult with people who have experience with and/or a sense of design. Make it look warm and inviting.

 

Email Bert Christensen

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