Anna Belle Leiserson, a professional web designer and a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, Tenn., is making it easier for congregations to have attractive websites. She has created two versions of a website format and is making them available free to congregations. Both are WordPress themes. A theme is a template applied to a WordPress site to give it a particular look, feel, and structure. WordPress is the most popular web content management system used today.
Leiserson says she was inspired to create her website formats, which she calls UU 2011 and Faith 2012, after seeing many congregational websites that didn’t seem welcoming. “It’s so easy for me to picture a new person in town looking for a congregation, seeing one of these sites, and within about five seconds literally dismissing the possibility of visiting.”
She said the new themes allow each user to insert his or her own photos. She recommends UU 2011 for UU congregations and Faith 2012 for other congregations, including synagogues and mosques. She adds, “Most WordPress themes are for businesses, magazines, news, or personal blogging sites. No matter how attractive, they can be an enormous challenge to adapt to a congregation. More information can be found here and here.
Leiserson also has a blog in which she writes about congregational website design.