Written by Anthony Moujaes
The United Church of Christ has taken the wraps off a redesign of the denomination's webpage, UCC.org. The changes to the website, which welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year, are apparent on the homepage and several primary landing pages, with further revisions to be phased in on a continuing basis.
In addition to a cleaner, simpler look, the website revision is aimed at improving user experience and functionality of UCC.org to meet the needs of all the site's diverse users — clergy and church staff, lay leaders and volunteers, UCC members, and those looking for a new church home.
The UCC.org remake, the project of the UCC's Publishing, Identity and Communication Ministry, was initiated after an extensive review of the site by an outside consulting firm. The review highlighted several key points for change — improvement in the site's navigation and accessibility, a simpler, less animated homepage, a clearer invitation to "seekers" looking for a new church home, and a better indication of who the UCC is for those not familiar with the denomination.
The new web strategy, which involves improving the user experience and providing a more extravagant welcome through UCC.org, has simplified the design of the denomination's online communication. It involved making the site more user friendly and easier to navigate, and more accessible to users on a variety of platforms — easily viewable on a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet.
"The UCC's website is one of our main communication channels and resources with more than 65,000 pages and thousands of downloadable files," said Ann E. Poston, director of the Publishing, Identity, and Communication Ministry. "In order to improve the site while not disrupting access to the pages and resources that many of our clergy and members use on a regular basis, we will be making incremental changes to the site throughout the year." Poston indicated that all current page links will remain unchanged so that saved links — favorites and bookmarks — continue to work for site visitors.
Along with the launch of the new UCC.org homepage today, several key pages on the site, including United Church News (ucc.org/news), have been revised in this initial redesign phase. UCC.org users will also find a new resource page created to provide a fresh source for faith formation in everyday life.
The new "Feed Your Spirit" page has several features, including a daily photo with reflection (Peek. Ponder. Pray.), and twice-weekly theological reflections of current events or news stories (Praying the News). Bookmark ucc.org/feed-your-spirit for easy access.
Improvements to the site will continue throughout 2013 to transition all the pages on UCC.org to the same responsive web platform, for easy access on all devices. The web team is also working to enhance the site's search function, and will monitor site statistics to continue to improve the user experience.