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Redesign Makes UUA Website More Usable
Finding what you want on UUA.org just got easier. The website, which underwent a comprehensive redesign in early 2007, has been changed again, as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA’s) web staff has developed a better understanding of how people use it.
The changes will occur in phases, and the first phase went live on February 1. The first phase involves two key pages: a new resources page for congregational leaders and active Unitarian Universalists (UUs), and a revamped home page, which focuses on the needs of visitors to Unitarian Universalism. More changes will come this summer.
Deborah Weiner, the UUA’s director of Electronic Communication, says the 2007 redesign divided the home page into sections for visitors, members, and leaders. “Responding to different audiences was a nice idea,” says Weiner, “but as we looked at how people used that page, it didn’t work as well as we had hoped. Many of our members are also leaders, and we realized that we needed a new page to serve both groups.
“Although it’s been only three years, in some ways the world is a very different place than in early 2007 when the use of social media was just on the horizon,” she says. “There are also many more ways to analyze how people use websites. That has helped us understand what users want, where they are going on our website, and what they would find most helpful.
She notes that 85 percent of the people who come to the UUA.org home page are newcomers to Unitarian Universalism, rather than congregational leaders. As a result that page is now almost entirely focused on newcomers and includes video clips, banner images that link to the six topics that visitors ask for most frequently, UUA news stories and event listings, and links to the most visited pages on UUA.org, as well as social media links.
The new resources page is focused almost entirely on the interests of congregational leaders and UUs active in congregational life. It includes a listing of recommended resources so that UUs seeking information on a particular topic can click on that item and be taken to a page offering multiple resources. For example, someone clicking on “Ministerial Benefits and Compensation” will see a page with capsule descriptions of, and links to, the UUA health plan, retirement plan, group insurance plan, etc.
Someone clicking on “Young Adults,” under the heading of Religious Education, will get a page that includes the Guide to Young Adult Ministry, the Our Whole Lives sexuality education program for young adults, various ways to design worship for young adults, and contact information for the Youth and Young Adult Ministries staff. Each page includes a personal introduction from a member of the UUA staff who is a resident expert in the resource area, plus information about how to reach staff members for personal assistance.
The resources page has links to an A to Z index, the UUA online directory, and a list of “Most Viewed” pages. It also offers UU news, UUA staff blog items, and upcoming events. A “Recently Updated” section helps leaders keep up with new resources that have been posted. The page also has a box of social media links to enable leaders to easily connect with the UUA through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other media, and facilitate the sharing of items with other UUs.
“We have never had a resources page before,” says Weiner. “This one is designed as the starting point for people involved in UU life as members of congregations, or professional or volunteer leaders.” There is little need, she says, for these folks to stop at the home page anymore. “Above all, we hope that these changes will mean that people will have to search less for what they’re looking for.”
Expect to see more video clips on UUA.org, says Mark Steinwinter, the UUA’s director of Information Technology Services. “It used to be a rarity, but we’ve upgraded our publishing system to make it easy to include more new media on the site.”
He says there will be changes to many other pages between now and summer, “but the changes won’t be as dramatic as to the resources and home pages.” The second phase of changes will focus on search, navigation, and overall information organization. That phase is expected to be completed by mid-June.