Morristown Jewish Center


Last update: 7/21

Design Goals

MJCBY is undertaking a facelift for our website during July-August to refresh the content and improve the look and feel. I believe that the facelift should be driven by the following design goals:

  • The design should be "mobile-first" - not only that it displays well on a phone but is easy to use
  • The language should be more personal and welcoming, not merely descriptive
  • Design and implementation decisions should have accessibility top of mind
  • Reduce navigation by simplifying the menu system, combining pages where it makes sense, and replacing all of the IN THIS SECTION menu blocks with bookmark links at the top of pages with long content — e.g., see Meet Our Team
  • Less is more
  • The site must reflect a high standard for production values — the pages must use the same design language; the text must be edited to be consistent, concise and compelling; the photographs must be crystal clear
  • Standardize spelling of - and how we use - Hebrew and Yiddish words (with English translation)

Proposed Changes

This page provides links to new DRAFT pages for the website to be reviewed for feedback. There are comments for each proposed page describing what's different - and the rationale - compared to the current site and any remaining issues to be addressed.

These pages are not yet connected to the menu system on our site because they have not been approved (we need to decide who will have approval authority). Reviewers, when you look at a new page, all of the menu items will point to our current can use the "back button" on your browser to return to the proposed new content.

Please email Bob Small with any feedback or suggestions.

  • Home
    Comment: The current Home page shows a slide carousel on top of a blurred image from one of our stained-glass windows and all of the text is "below the fold," in a paragraph that is difficult to read. The proposed redesign replaces the clutter and highlights our messages. The text to the right of the picture is verbatim from the current site. The two sentences at the bottom are new.
  • Welcome page is currently the first link in the Who We Are pull-down menu. I propose to remove this page as its content is somewhat redundant with the new proposed Home page and elsewhere. We should not talk about HiHo tickets here!
  • Meet Our Team
    Comment: This page replaces 3 pages on the current site. The Clergy page wastes a lot of space and lacks consistency in layout; the write-ups should be more personal and consistent in detail; Rabbi Nesson & Cantor Attias don't need bios. Attias's photo needs to be redone.
  • Inclusion
    Comment: This is new page under the Who We Are menu item. There are no descriptions on the current site for people who have disabilities or members of the LGBTQAI+ community. I believe Inclusion is the right place for discussing Interfaith Families...the proposed page uses existing content for Inter-Faith Families in an improved display. When we discuss our support for people with disabilities, we should include how we have made the website accessible — see section in Open Issues).
  • History
    Comment: The current history page only gives links to 5 articles that Lew Stone wrote or edited. I asked Lew for a narrative that could go on the History page and he provided this. However, he told me that there is a lot of history since 1979...we need a conversation about if or how to tell this story. I question whether Hisotry should be the second link in Who We Are and want to propose that it be moved to the Digital Library page and have a link on the Home page where we mention our history .
  • Newsletter
    Comment: 1) The current page has a one-column list of links to newsletters going back through 2018 and no place to sign up. 2) The proposed revision shows friendlier names and links to only the current and previous years plus a place to sign up for the newsletter and email blast. 3) I learned from Neda that people don't sign up for the Tue/Thu ebalsts - that these are sent to the members via ShulCloud...however, there is a form linked from the Who We Are to a page that gives a link to a Wufoo form that seems to allow sign-up; we should encourage non-members to subscribe (There could be a category in ShulCloud for friends of MJCBY").
  • Visit Us | Contact Us
    Comment:This proposal would replace the Map & Direction and Contact Us pages in the Who We Are menu item. "Visit Us" sounds more welcoming than "Map & Directions." I have tried to clarify the instructions for entering the building, which are difficult to understand on the current site.
  • Prayer
    Comment: There are several elements that are changed in this proposal: 1) This proposed page combines the 4 pages currently under Services. Most of the pages have very little content and combining them reduces navigation. 2) There is a new What to Expect section...the content here needs to be reviewed by the rabbi and ritual committee. 3) What do reviewers think about changing the page name from "Services" (what the clergy do) to "Prayer" (what the Jews in the pews do)? Also, how about adding Tefilot as a page title: e.g., Tefilot/Prayer ? 4) It seems to me that the Life-cycle Events section should move somewhere else - not sure where.
  • Learning
    Comment: Proposed new landing page. 1) Each small photo needs a brief writeup with a link to its own page. 2) For example, the Shalom Yeladim page would have all of the edited content currently listed on the IN THIS SECTION; same for Limud. 3) I think all of the B'nai Mitzvah conent should be consolidated on a page under Learning. 4) I propose a new page: Digital Library that would have curated materials including essays, lectures, interviews, etc. This would include the two current linked items under Life Long Learning.
  • Community
    Comment: Proposed new landing page. 1) This is a different layout that on the Learning landing page...and is shown for comparison...I think they should have the same layout - what do reviewers think? 2) I question whether Greater MetroWest and Israel belong under Community. If we are going to include these topics (somewhere?) the content needs to be reconsidered...Israel is much too big and sensitive a topic to be discussed on our website. My vote is to remove both....
  • Donate
    Comment: Proposed new Support page is renamed Donate that combines the elements of the current page in a much cleaner presentation. It is linked from the Header and Footer menus but not the Main menu - see Menu Simplification page
  • Menu Simplification
    Comment: This is a mock-up of what the new menus might be...Here's a thought: whether or not we we change "Community" to "Join Us", why not move the current Membership stuff there?

Open Issues

Calendar & Events

  • When I got involved in this project, the Events link showed "No Events" — whatever we decide, it can't be the case that an Events links shows "No Events"!
  • I met with Neda to learn how she manages the calendar and events: She creates flyers for events using the Canvas graphical editor and publishes them to the congregation via ShulCloud. ShulCloud and WordPress are not well integrated and this is not going to change anytime soon. There are advantages of using ShulCloud for its features of managing event registrations and collecting fees, so there is no reason to change this.
  • I created a few sample events based on the July calendar to see how WordPress displays them. I think that this is promising...much better to highlight the many events we offer and much better than asking a visitor to our website to read the Google calendar.
  • It seems to me that a reasonable option would be for Neda to establish a standard template for each type of event (e.g., Friday night service, Shabbat service, etc.) and use those templates in creating recurring and individual events on the website so there is a meaningful display under events. She could then use the appropriate template to create custom instances of events for the Newsletter and Tue/Thu emails.

Website Accessibility

  • The Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) is the "gold standard" for making web content accessible.
  • I recommend that we incorporate these guidelines into our facelift initiative — it's much easier to achieve compliance as you go rather than trying to back-fit it after the fact.
  • I recommend that we use the WP ADA Compliance plug-in to guide our work.
  • I have installed the free version, which is limited to scanning only 15 pages for a subset of issues that the premium version can identify. Nevertheless, here's its report. You'll see that there are 61 pages of complaints(!), many of which are in the theme, which means they are pervasive throughout the site. Each occurrance is flagged so in reality, it's not so overwhelming - when you fix a theme problem, every instance is corrected.
  • An issue that it identified is that 1,200+ images in our media library lack "alt text" which enables a screen reader to describe an image. I have already sorted out 400+ images that MIGHT be worth saving — these need to be reviewed. Any file we use on the website must not only be of high quality, it must support the WCAG.
  • I recommend that we use an accessibility tool that will help our implementation to meet the guidelines and provide a customizable experience for users via a widget. Option 1) Upgrade the Basic (free) license to the lowest premium level at a cost of $179/year: this will give us the full suite of accessibility tests, an unlimited number of pages to be scanned, and a widget to display on the site for users to customize the accessibility features that are important to them. Option 2) Subscribe to a service called AccessiBe, at $490/year, which provides automated support in upgrading our pages to meet the WCAG standards.(There are likely competitors, but these options are representative of the plug-in and external routes.)

Site Maintainability

  • Having unused files or code in an application is a form of "technical debt" — it creates confusion that can lead to mistakes because it is more difficult to "find the wheat hidden by the chaff."
  • When I got involved, there were 2,000+ image files in the Media Library, none of which were sorted into folders and a second media repository called NextGen Gallery with 11 folders and 200 photos that are 10 years old!
  • I have deactivated the NextGen Gallery (it should be deleted) and created folders in the Media Library for 400 images that MIGHT be useful. The rest should be purged.
  • There are also 116 pages in the server, nearly half of which are not being used. As we work our way through the facelift project, unused pages should be deleted.
  • There are 33 plug-ins in our WordPress configuration. We should delete those that we aren't using or going to use and deactivate those we want to keep but are not currently using.
The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.