UUA.org Website Development
Usability studies, accessibility reviews, survey responses, website analytics, and the feedback we get from Unitarian Universalists (UUs) every day keep the updates we make to our website engaging and relevant. Sign up to help us make UUA.org easier to use. Our tests typically take 10-15 minutes to complete, but the benefits of a user-approved design & structure go on and on!
- Almost all the blogs, including regional blogs, moved to UUA.org (2018-19)
- The Blue Boat blog for youth and young adults moved to UUA.org (August 2017).
- New main menu (information architecture) and new home page (May 2017).
- The Find a Congregation form shows the user's location (March 2017, if location services are enabled).
- Braver/Wiser spiritual newsletter added (Sept. 2016).
- Four out of the five UUA regions are now part of the UUA.org website.
- Action shares (May 2016) enable congregations to post their activities that relate to UUA projects, such as Show the Love and Black Lives Matter banners.
- Easy-to-add callouts highlight relevant bookstore items (May 2016).
- Discussion forums (January 2016) begin to replace some UUA-hosted Mailman lists. Many are used in private sections as part of online courses.
- Integrated calendars (January 2016) across all regions and many staff groups include the capability to import events from existing Google calendars.
- Comments, likes, and bookmarks (November 2015) enabled logged-in users to like or bookmark any page and comment on some pages (starting with almost all Worship Web pages). You can also reply to comments, flag them as inappropriate, like them, and subscribe to receive email notifications of new comments on the page.
- Private sections (October 2015) for specific teams, committees, or other groups who need to share password-protected material.
- Section home pages (August 2015) that display a set of images and links in the body of the page, like the Worship Web section home page.
- New UUWorld.org design and platform (May 2015): Introducing our completely rebuilt, mobile-optimized website. Since both uuworld.org and UUA.org are now using Drupal, we can do cool things like cross-promote content on our sites: people pages link to items authored by that person on both sites (like Dennis McCarty's page), and UU World articles are featured on UUA.org pages (as on Congregational Management).
- New UUA.org design and platform (February 2015): Welcome to the New UUA.org. We migrated from a proprietary content management system (CMS) to the open-source Drupal. This allows us greater flexibility and agility in implementing new features.
Improvements of Historical Interest
- Simplified "share" icons (April 2013): We've swapped from a third-party "catchall" service for social media sharing to a faster-loading, locally-hosted system which highlights only UUA.org's most popular sharing services. In addition to faster page loads, using the more ubiquitous Facebook, Twitter, and Email icons will help make this feature more obvious.
- Microdata tagging (February 2013): Microdata allows search engines to better understand the information on web pages, which can mean more attractive and relevant search results. Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all support the Schema.org vocabulary, which has now been applied to the UUA and UUA Bookstore sites.
- Site search (January 2013): Our site search now includes all public UUA sites (including district and regional sites), all Related Organization sites, and the Church of the Larger Fellowship's seeker site, Quest for Meaning. Results can be sorted by relevance or date. Auto-completion offers common words or phrases, and in some cases suggests likely pages. Searches can be performed for images as well as web pages.
- Google calendars (November 2012): We moved from a series of clunky text-only lists of events to embedded Google Calendars. This allows all our calendars (social justice, holidays, etc.) to be displayed in one place (as well as in their topic areas) in their traditional grid format (as well as in plain text feeds). People can add an event to their own calendars with a single click, and can also choose to subscribe to any of our calendars.
- Sharing via social media (September 2012): We added some Open Graph code to help social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest understand our pages and find image thumbnails.
- Responsive design (March 2012): A new set of styles makes UUA.org much easier to read on mobile devices—only a single column of text, and a much larger default text size. No information is lost! This isn't a "mobile site" or a "mobile app" with a limited set of features. The approach we used is called "responsive design," which means the same website is available to both desktop and handheld devices—just better-designed when viewed on smaller screens.
- New menus on all pages (August 2011): After extensive testing, we moved to topic-based menus instead of the "Visitors/Members/Leaders" audience-based approach. No more choosing what audience you’re in or selecting the format of your resources before getting to the information you need!
We created the new organization of UUA.org based on results from some card-sorting exercises, which help establish how people group topics, and what they call the groups. We then tested the groups (which became top-level menu choices) by using a system called Treejack. With Treejack, we could display a proposed menu tree and then ask volunteers to try to find topics using the menus. We saw where they looked first, where they backtracked, and where they ended up deciding that a topic should live in the menu tree.
In many cases, people looked in places that we didn't expect, or didn't understand labels that we thought were clear. We ran dozens of tests with hundreds of volunteers (UU and non), renaming and moving topics based on where people looked for things.
Read more about our process, the resources we used, and the lessons we learned.
- Accessibility for multimedia (April 2011): We've solidified processes for acquiring and displaying captions and/or transcripts for our multimedia files, and implemented a UUA.org Policy on Transcripts and Captions for Video.
- Improved “Find a Congregation” feature (June 2010): You can now search for congregations by typing in the name of your city and state—no more having to know the zip code for the location you want! When your search results come up, you'll see a Google map highlighting the location of every UU congregation within the radius you specified.
- Enhanced site search (June 2010): We asked questions about our site search, analyzed our statistics, listened to feedback, and even added a “live chat” feature on our search page so we could make searching UUA.org easier than ever. “Tabs” on our search results let you refine your search to particular subsections of our site: search specifically for UU World articles, WorshipWeb resources, congregational stories, and more.
- More accessible content (June 2010): We asked for a professional review of our site's accessibility and are proud to announce that with very few exceptions (most of which we're fixing with this launch, and the rest of which we're actively working on), we comply with Section 508 and Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines.
- Stronger contrast: our color schemes have been adjusted to meet the highest level of contrast ratio, making all our text easier to read.
- Larger fonts: our site navigation, image captions, and related content fonts are all larger, and un-bolded for improved readability.
- Consistent headers: screen readers can navigate our site more easily than ever, thanks to the changes we've made to the structure of our pages.
- Redesign (January 2010): In January 2010, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) debuted a new, wider home page with new features like videos and links to recently-updated pages and Unitarian Universalist (UU) blog entries. We also added a few new features to all UUA.org pages, including a “Find a Congregation” form and the ability to share material on Facebook and other social networking sites.
You Can Help
We hope you'll find these improvements helpful and interesting. We welcome your feedback so we can continue to make UUA.org the best it can be: web [at] uua [dot] org.