Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Review: UUA Wordpress Theme -- A First Look

Today the UUA launches its new Wordpress theme.  The official title seems to be "UUA Wordpress Theme for Congregations," but I'm referring to it here as "UUA Theme."  This is something I've been waiting for, and vocally advocating for and blogging about , for some time, so I was anxiously awaiting the debut.  So here are some first impressions based on the demo site and what I've read in the materials, as I wait for the launch to happen.  Overall, I think it's really a fantastic job, and just exactly what I was hoping for.  

Look and Aesthetics:

When I was looking for a Wordpress theme for my site when I converted to Wordpress a year or two ago, I was looking for several things in my theme:
  •  A theme that let me use my own custom logo along with a title to the site.  This is surprisingly rare -- lots of pages allow only for one or the other, or you have to hack the code, which I don't do.  The UUA theme clearly lets you use the UUA logo along with a church title, and I'm betting allows churches to put their own chalice logo in.  
  • A theme that did not need a large picture in the header.  The UUA Theme does not.
  • A theme that allows for some sort of slider on the first page.  The UUA Theme does.
  • A theme that includes links for social media like Facebook and Twitter in its header.  The UUA Theme does.
  • A theme with a top menu bar.  The UUA Theme has top navigation. 
  • A top menu bar that was aesthetically pleasing to me -- a thin stripe with links on it, and not something that looked like tabs.  The UUA Theme has this as well.
  • A theme with a presentation page for the home page that's different from other pages.  The UUA Theme has this.
  • A theme that was accessible on multiple different platforms and responded nicely on mobile devices.  The UUA Theme is.  
  • A theme that gave me some choice about color scheme.  The UUA Theme does.  From the materials and demo site, I can't tell how much flexibility is here, but I can tell that there is some.
In other words, the UUA theme hit every single point that I was looking for.  When I created my church's website, I demoed dozens of different themes, trying to find one that did all this, and couldn't.  I eventually settled for one that met most of theses points but not all. 

UUA Services Plugin:

One thing I've never adequately solved to my satisfaction was how to manage Sunday services on a webpage.  Ideally, you want every Sunday's service information to be posted separately, to be the top one people see, but to be able to see other upcoming services easily as well.  And you want to do this without having to update your webpage every single week, because volunteers aren't always available every single week to do the update.  If you create posts, they'll post in the order you create them, unless you use some sort of plugin application to withhold publication, but I didn't really know how to easily do this, amateur as I am.  Well, the UUA Services Plugin solved my problem entirely.  The good folks who created the Theme recognized that this is the one area pretty essential to congregations that no other plugin did very nicely, and so was one that was important for them to create themselves.  And it works very nicely, even taking each service from "Upcoming Services" to "Past Services" automatically each week.  Bravo!  A great recognition on the UUA's part that this is exactly the plugin we needed, where nothing else did the job easily.

Other Bonuses:

In configuring my menus to match the UUA Theme's suggestions, I learned how to make a null link at the top level of menu items.  That was something I didn't know before, and had really wondered about when I converted to Wordpress.  It was obvious to me that there was some confusion within myself about whether the top of the menu should be a page itself, or just pull down the menu, but I didn't know how to do that.  The UUA Theme materials explained the best practice, and how to accomplish it.  Problem solved.

Content: 

Something I wasn't expected, and am overjoyed about, is the demo content.  I haven't gotten a chance to look at it yet, but it's so wonderful to have sample content provided -- not all of us are great writers, and even if we are may not understand the best way to write for webpages.  The demo content, as well as the list of suggested images, are exactly what our congregations need.

Well, my ancient computer may have downloaded the theme by now, so that's all for my "First Look."  I'll be back with more after I've tried it out. 

1 comment:

Sarah Gibb Millspaugh said...

Cynthia, I am so happy to hear how well this meets your needs. Yours was one of the voices Carey, Chris, and I listened to closely as we moved forward with this, and other tools, for congregations. Thank you for speaking up!

In answer to your question about your own logo: yes, absolutely, you can use your own logo. You'll see as you dig in. :-)