Web site = front door

Because I don’t have any duties at the Palo Alto church this Sunday, I checked the Web for worship services at other Bay area Unitarian Universalist congregations. I did not feel welcomed by several Web pages.

One congregation’s Web site made me click through the home page and still other page before I found Sunday morning information, and even that page didn’t tell me how long the service lasted, what else might be happening on Sunday morning, what most people wear, what kind of music I might hear, etc. Another congregation prominently displayed information from last Sunday morning, including a reminder to set my clock ahead. Another congregation’s Web site didn’t display properly on my just-updated Firefox browser; I eventually found Sunday service information in the monthly newsletter, which was a huge PDF file.

Then I found the Oakland Unitarian Universalist church’s Web site. Right at the top, it tells me that I’m welcome. There’s a prominent link for newcomers to plan their first visit to the church. There’s a big picture of Sunday’s preacher smiling, and a short description of what the worship service will be. (Please note that the San Mateo Unitarian Universalist church, just a few blocks from our house, also has a good Web site, but I wanted to check out one of the other congregations in the Bay area.)

Peter Bowden likes to say that a congregation’s front door is not the door at the front of your physical building, it’s the front page of your Web site. Your Web front door doesn’t have to be snazzy, but it does have to be open and welcoming to all. Homework assignment: go check out the front page of your congregation’s Web site. Come back and tell us if your congregation’s front door is open and welcoming to newcomers or not.

3 thoughts on “Web site = front door

  1. E

    Excellent point. I was not involved in the website update that was just done for Friends Meeting of Washington, but I was pleased to note when I checked to see whether we did the homework you suggest that when you save it as a favorite, it automatically titles the page as “All are Welcome.” See http://quakersdc.org/

  2. steven rowe


    I’m often surprised at what UUs want to see on the front page. I’ve also heard some folks need to know the number of people who attend. While some of these I don’t understand the need – I do confess to being someone who does sorta look at the theological leanings of the Church – am I likely to enjoy the sermon or likely to have the minister curse me as an UU infidel from the pulpit.
    those who write church webpages, have to walk that thin line between attracting those who might like what they do, but yet still encouraging those who perfer a different style of music to try them anyway, after all it might be better than you think.

  3. Dan

    steven @ 2 — Yes, church Webmasters have to walk a thin line. I’m actually not a fan of posting who’s preaching, or what the sermon topic might be. But yes, I do want to know a little bit about what kind of congregation this might be, e.g., if it’s a fundamentalist humanist congregation I’m probably not going to visit them. At the same time, if you’re going to post sermon topics, etc., make sure the site is up to date!

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