NEW UCG.ORG Website to Launch
April 7, 2015
2nd Quarter 2015
UCG.org to Re-launch with Responsive Design and Other Improvements!
The Internet team at the United Church of God is always looking for ways to improve our visitor’s experience. Over the past several months we’ve been very busy building something that we think you’ll love! We’re very happy to say we’re almost ready to unveil the new UCG.org website!
Why a new website?
The Internet is constantly shifting in capabilities, browsing habits and tons of other factors. We like to stay as current as we can—so that we’re ready to give an answer when people are searching for God’s truths. We’ve thought long and hard about the best way to organize the new site, what it should look like, and how it will function. We didn’t want just a face-lift. We wanted a change that can be expanded and improved upon for years to come—with a strong backend and thoughtful organization. We think you’re going to love it!
What Can I Expect on the new site?
- New, mobile-friendly responsive design
We’ve redesigned the site from the ground up to make it more accessible on your smart phone, tablet, television or any other device that you use. A responsive design means the site should be accessible no matter what screen size you’re on at the moment. Over 50 percent of our traffic is from mobile phones and tablets now, so it is important to us that everyone has a seamless experience when they visit the website.
- More deliberate focus on presenting who we are as a Church
The Internet has changed really quickly! For years the strategy was to put as much content on your homepage as possible so search engines could find your site and make sure that visitors could find the information they were looking for. With advances from search engines this isn’t the case anymore. We’re planning to move all gospel-preaching content off of the “United Church of God” section of the website, and really focus in on who we are as a Church.
We’re going to give visitors a much clearer way to find a congregation near them and a really good idea of what they can find when they get to services. We’ll show them our outreach efforts, sermons, and even invite them in to watch a webcast Sabbath service so they can answer God’s calling.
- More deliberate focus on presenting the gospel message
Just because you won’t see all of our media content on the “United Church of God” section anymore doesn’t mean we’re shifting focus. The new “Beyond Today” media section of the website will be better than ever!
With the coming magazine name change from The Good News to Beyond Today, our gospel message will be more findable and more robust than ever. Beyond Today is not just a television program anymore. Beyond Today is a place where people can find all the wonderful truths of God’s way of life in tons of different ways—videos, Bible studies, blogs, booklets and study aids—and all mobile-friendly and accessible to millions around the world. With a clear focus on our gospel-preaching effort, we’ll have the opportunities to reach people in many new emerging markets and emerging devices.
- New Congregation Websites
Along with the other changes we plan on slowly rolling in our local congregation websites, with tons of new features. All the sites will be searchable and findable inside the main UCG.org site now, which means a seamless experience for the user and a much better interface for the local congregation website helpers. All posted sermons given in local congregations will be findable on our main UCG.org website for everyone to hear, and we have a lot of great things in mind for those as well.
- New Members’ Website
In Quarter 3, we also plan on integrating the members’ site into the new UCG.org. It will provide a much more seamless experience for our members looking for pertinent member content.
We’ve also been keeping an eye on feedback from users and we’re deciding to sunset a few things.
- Simplified user accounts without in-site friend requests or messages
Friend requests and personal messages in-site will not be in the new website. We found a vast majority of users are not using this functionality, and there are many other options for interactivity on the Internet today.
To replace messaging we will allow any user to configure their account with a contact form so others can send them an e-mail message. All e-mail addresses will be obscured for privacy on UCG.org and the function will be able to be turned off. This lets site visitors drop a note to their favorite UCG.org authors and start to build a relationship right away. You should archive any messages you wish to keep now because when the site rolls over you will not be able to access the archived messages.
- Look for us on other devices you use!
The future of the Internet is having your website’s content on whatever device someone uses—be it a smart TV, set top box, wearable, phone, or something we haven’t even considered yet. We’ve built the new site with this in mind and hope to jump onto emerging technology as quickly as possible. Our Roku channel is the first example of this, but we want to make sure we’re available on streaming devices everywhere that people have a question about the Bible.
We look forward to everyone’s feedback as we start rolling the project out live. You can expect the first round of updates sometime in Quarter 2 of this year, and more improvements throughout the rest of 2015. We really appreciate everyone’s prayers for God’s blessing on the project and the continued support of the entire Church.
Tom Disher—Senior Web Developer & Beyond Today Media Promoter, UCGIA