The new Temple Beth El website is ready. It was recently presented to our Board of Directors and it received a warm welcome. The old website has served us for over 10 years, but it has not changed while technology and our lives have evolved. For example, these ubiquitous small devices, smart phones and tablets, were simply not a factor in website design a decade ago. Now, chances are whatever age demographic you belong to, young or old, there will be a smart phone in your purse or pocket when you go to synagogue. And when you want to know when or where some activity is taking place, these will be the place to look to find out.
That is not to say that everything is complete. What was up on the old website, as well as much of what is on the new Sisterhood website, has been ported over to the new website. Some of this content needs update and addition. Other content will need to be created from scratch. This will happen gradually and organically as the need arises. The calendar and news items are working and added in a timely fashion. What will be improved upon in the future is the static content. This is what are called ‘pages’ in WordPress speak, information that does not change much over time, as opposed to ‘posts’ which are timely and topical. These ‘posts’ come in two formats: Posts and Events.
A post is any news item, announcement, or other content that comes with a date attached. A good example would be a Parsha. These are posts because we have a new one every week. And if you want to go back and look at one from some time ago, one way to do that would be by date. Another way would be by a ‘tag’ such as the name of the weekly parsha, like ‘Bereishit’ or even by year. An event, in contrast, is a program or function that takes place, either at the Temple or off site. When you organize a series of events by date and time, you get a Calendar. That is the way WordPress thinks about these things and it is logical. This gives a natural structure to WordPress-based websites that is easy to use.
The design of the new website flowed partly from a few aesthetic ideas that your website committee had in the beginning and the choice of URJ template that was made initially. Another piece comes from functionality. For example, we all liked the full height header for every page, but it was suggested that this might be a little confusing at first, before people figure out that they need to scroll down the page. That was changed to a half-height header. But there was just one little problem; it does not happen on the home page. This of course is a bug, which is not infrequent. Still, one tries to design for the best user experience over a range of situations.
We made a smart decision to put our website on the URJ’s new platform. Not only the price is right, i.e. free, the support is superlative. Joel Emerman is the administrator of the enterprise platform these websites are being hosted on and it is he who answers my support questions. In fact, judging by the ticket numbers, he has answered more than 3,500 questions (only a few from me). I would like to thank him for the prompt and courteous help he provides us webmasters.
One last educational item before I go: the ‘hamburger’ – you got to love the name. A ‘hamburger’ is the link to the full-page menu when there is no room to directly display the menu because the screen area is limited. This would be on any small device but also happens on a normal computer as you size the browser window smaller. It is a symbol consisting of 3 horizontal lines stacked one upon another, hence the name hamburger. When you touch it, the full menu will magically come onto your screen from the right. Try it, you’ll like it. And no calories.