Celebrating the New Year with a New Website

The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, is a time of celebration and reflection. Communities gather to hear the blow of the shofar and begin the new season together. This new year, Congregation Shaarey Tefilla (CST) in Carmel has a new website to call home. The new design features an expansive photo slider, more effective use of space and newly designed sidebar and footer features. CST is also running the latest version of WordPress, which dramatically enhances the staff’s ability to quickly and easily manage website updates.

This is actually our second website for CST. Their first website debuted in 2009. At just over three years old, the design no longer reflected the synagogue’s vibrant community and busy schedule. Changes in web design and marketing trends also left the old website feeling dated. The synagogue gave us the chance to overhaul the website and refresh their letterhead and print collateral.

Old Shaarey Tefilla homepage

Where the old website led with a monster-sized logo and banner, the new website’s logo space is less than half that size. This change reflects a trend in web design towards smaller logos in the upper left corner. Rather than dominating the page with one image, designs now incorporate elements of the brand throughout the design. Like words in a sentence that come together to form a complete thought, the design elements leave a well-rounded impression of CST’s brand, rather than a fleeting memory of a huge logo.

A special feature for CST is streaming audio of Rabbi Sendrow presenting his sermon in addition to downloadable manuscripts. The rabbi records his sermons at home and uploads them to the free PodOmatic podcasting service. A simple embedded audio player lets CST share this valuable content on the website or anywhere on the Web.

One of the key lesson’s we learned this past year is that the best websites are helpful websites. The old CST website spent most of its space on a big logo and extensive description of the synagogue. It’s still important to display a prominent logo and welcome visitors with a short message. But our new website for CST balances those items with a selection of the most commonly searched for information. We placed calendar access on the homepage and in the sidebar of the website’s interior pages. Contact information and a mini-schedule of regular religious activities are easily found in the footer of every page. By emphasizing the most needed and helpful information, CST’s new website is smarter, and easier to use for visitors and administrators alike.