Quaker web sites: a new shared service and some feedback for Bath

After two years’ discussion and gestation the Friends Quaker Meetings Network now has a working demo of generic web sites for Quaker Meetings. Meanwhile we learn that Bath Quaker News is a case study in an online Quaker course.

The Friends Quaker Meetings Network – in which Bath Quakers have been participating – has produced a demo web service for local Meetings. Interested Friends are welcome to sign up to the group, which states its goal as

to support Friends at both Local and Area Meeting level to manage and improve their online presence in the modern digital age. We aim to make managing meeting websites quicker, easier and more intuitive. Our websites are networked together, helping people in your area discover what’s going on in their local Quaker communities.

You can join the network here https://join.quakermeeting.org/. There’s a flow chart of how a Meeting might decide to adopt it here. Bath Friends have taken part in the discussions by mail list.

Meanwhile Bradford on Avon news editor Klaus Huber reports that students taking Woodroke’s online course Speaking to that of God – building a Quaker web presence are encouraged to take a critical look at Bath Quaker News as one example of how local Quakers can engage with an audence on line.

The students’ feedback, summarised by Klaus, is it has lots of interesting material and gives the impression of a busy, active Meeting. Some Friends found the home page overwhelming; one described it as like his own desk – a deep litter system with newest items on top. Students liked the resources and about pages, also the Twitter feed. Particular positives were:

  • visually very attractive with good quality pictures specifically taken or selected for the site and arranged in colourful tiles
  • kept bang up to date
  • personal touch’ focusing on individual Friends in news items

Of course being Friends, the students also offered constructive suggestions for improvement:

  • maybe limit homepage to a few recent items, with the rest being available in an archive
  • add travel directions to Contact page and full address of venue on homepage.

Should Bath Quakers use the new standard theme?

Unlike other meetings Bath Quakers deliberately adopted off-the-shelf a distinctive news-based style. It uses a standard WordPress theme, but one which calls for regular updates and pictures. We wanted to emphasise Bath Quakers’ faith in action, and to look fowards and outwards.

The Meeting could switch to a national standard service any time, and would likely be well advised do so when a sufficiently flexible theme with really attractive design is available. There’s no harm in looking like other Meeting web sites if the design is consistently excellent. The reality is most people go to a local Quaker web site for specific information about local events, Meetings, and background on Quakers rather than for news.

There’s no particular reason every local Meeting needs to differ in layount, founts and hosting services and many reasons why working together would help many local Meeting web editors.

Logo of the Quaker Meeting Network shared web service design

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