Web Site Usability

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Usability Considerations for Congregation Web Sites

This is a checklist for UU congregational web sites. We wrote it from the viewpoint of someone who is interested but hasn't visited. The visitor is not a computer wizard, just an average person. How much time will I have to spend figuring out how your site works, as opposed to finding the information I want?

First, can I find you?

Can I find your site in the first five hits in common search engines for an argument of

Unitarian {town} or Universalist {town} ?

(Add state if your town is named "Springfield" or "Riverbank"). If not, read about search engine optimization.

Can I find you on the UUA's Find a congregation page?

Can I find you on the corresponding page for the district?

If not, write to them.

I found your site. Can I read it - easily?

Does it have a light background and dark text?

Is the text resizable? Not everyone has a 17-inch monitor or 20/20 vision.

Are the text links blue and underlined? That is what I expect. I expect visited links to turn purple, too. (If the links are in a clearly defined navigation bar on the left, right, top or bottom, I'll probably know they are links even if they are not blue or underlined.)

As a corollary, is any other text blue, purple or underlined? If so, that text will confuse me at first glance.

Does your background color contrast strongly with your plain text color and your link text colors? (A light blue background, for instance, makes the text links hard to read. Not impossible, just hard. You want my time with you to be easy, not hard.)

Do all of your pages use the same color scheme? If the FAQ page has a white background and black text but the Youth Religious Education page has a pale red background and green text, I'm going to think the kids have their own site, and that I've left yours.

Do you label image links clearly? ("Here's a thumbnail image of our garden; click on it for a full tour.")

Do you have links to PDF files? If so, do you warn me? ("Read our Bylaws [PDF]")

Do you have links to large files? If so, do you warn me? Some people still use dial-up. ("See a slide show [4.5 MB]")

Two Navigation issues:

If you use frames, do you have a navigation bar or a link to your home page on every page, to avoid Google Traps?

Do all of your interior pages have a navigation bar? If I've finished your FAQ page and wonder what's coming up next Sunday, I would hate to have to go back up the home page to get to Sermon Topics.

I can read your page easily. Now I want to visit in person.

Does your site have a map, or a link to MapQuest or Google Maps?

Does your map page have written instructions, in case I do not read maps?

Does your map page have hints and warnings, if needed? ("The fastest way to get here from the west is . . .") ("This summer the gas company is tearing up Maple Boulevard . . .")

Does your map page tell me about public transport?

Does it tell me where to park?

If I use a wheelchair, will I know if your building and restrooms are accessible? Do you say so on the home, Map and FAQ page?

The FAQ Page.

This next section is from The UUA's Creating a Congregation Website page.

Does your FAQ page answer the questions?

Gila Jones, who moderated the UUA NEWCOMERS e-mail list, said these are the things most newcomers will want to know before a visit.

What should I wear to this church?

What should my children wear to this church?

(These first two are the most frequent queries. Parents will want to know if they should dress their children up in their Sunday best, or leave them in jeans and sneakers. Men will want to know if they should wear a coat and tie. You can give suggestions without mandating a dress code. Most people are going to want to dress at about the level of everyone else.)

Is there childcare/Sunday School during church?

If my child doesn't separate well, can she or he stay with me in the service?

Are there any (insert race) people in this congregation?

Are people of (race) welcome in this congregation?

Are there bisexual, gay, lesbian, and trans-gendered people in this congregation? Are they welcome?

Are there people in the congregation who believe (insert belief here)?

What goes on during the worship services?