Sunday, 20 December 2009

Sermons and addresses

Unitarian churches have a free pulpit and free pews:
There are two time honored institutions in Unitarian Universalist churches that are, or should be, guarded by clergy and laity as if they were the Holy Grail. They are the free pulpit and the free pew. Succinctly stated, the free pulpit means that when a congregation lends its pulpit to a minister by calling that minister as its spiritual leader, the congregation pledges complete and unencumbered freedom of speech to say anything from that pulpit that he or she believes to be true. But that freedom is not something the preacher is born with, but originates in the bond of affection, the covenant established between the congregation and the minister. The free pew means that when a Unitarian Universalist congregation is gathered by a bond of affection, a covenant that makes it into a spiritual community, the most sacred agreement made is that no theological test will be given for membership in that congregation.
A number of churches and ministers put their sermons and addresses online - it's a fantastic spiritual resource and a way to understand Unitarianism better.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Wordle tag cloud tool

A tag cloud is a collection of keywords from your website or blog, or about a topic.

There are many tag cloud gadgets, but Wordle will create a tag cloud with both vertical and horizontal words, and offers customisation including changing the colours and the font.

Here is the tag cloud for the Unitarian Communications blog:
Wordle: Unitarian Communications

Wordle also lets you create a cloud of words that you have entered into a box, so you could create one with Unitarian values, or famous Unitarians, or whatever.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Usability testing tools

W Craig Tomlin at Useful Usability has compiled a list of 24 web site usability testing tools, starting with a pencil and paper, through to web statistics software, heat-maps, desktop software and online card-sorts. He gives a detailed explanation and evaluation of each tool, together with its pros and cons.

Many of these tools are free or reasonably cheap.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Unitarian leaflets

A series of leaflets is available about Unitarian views of various issues.
More leaflets on other topics will be published on the web soon.
  • Unitarian Views of Earth and Nature
  • Unitarian Approaches to Worship
  • Women in the Unitarian Movement
  • Unitarian Views of God
  • Where We Stand: Gay and Lesbian Issues
  • Could you become a Unitarian Minister?
  • Could you become a Unitarian Lay Leader?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Accessible graphics

Most people know that you must add alt text to images, for example:

<img src="" alt="The Nightingale Centre" />

But there are other things you need to add for full accessibility and usability.

You should set a height and width for your image (and this should be no greater than the actual height and width of the image).

<img src="" height="240" width="360" alt="The Nightingale Centre" />

If an image is very high resolution, it will take a while to download, so you should resize it to a smaller size in your graphics program before uploading it (don't just set a smaller height and width in your HTML).

Internet Explorer uses the alt text as a tooltip, which is actually incorrect. Firefox uses the title attribute as the tooltip text, which is correct. So, if you want the title of your image to be displayed when a Firefox user rolls his/her mouse over the image, you need to add a title attribute.

<img src="" height="240" width="360" alt="The Nightingale Centre" title="The Nightingale Centre" />

You should also ensure that you use the correct format for your images. JPG format should always be used for photos. PNG or GIF formats should always be used for other graphics, such as logos.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Accessible video

So you have produced a shiny new video for your website - but is it accessible?

Deaf viewers require captioning; blind users require audio descriptions, and mobility-impaired users require keyboard shortcuts for video controls.

The best free tool for making videos accessible is Media Access Generator (MAGpie) from NCAM.

Another option is to provide a transcript of your video content.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Accessible tables

If you're using a table to present information, you need to make it readable from left to right so that it won't be inaccessible to people using screen readers.

Here's an example of a good table:

Joe Bloggs

0208 123 4567

Ann Other

0208 234 5678

Fred Smith

0208 345 6789

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

24 ways

24 ways is the advent calendar for web geeks. Each day throughout December they publish a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you a little Christmas cheer.

Now all they need to do is find a way of sending chocolate through the internet...

There are two interesting Unitarian and UU blogposts about Advent:
And Stephen Lingwood has posted a video: Advent: How long shall we keep God waiting? It's very good.


Making your website accessible is very important. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are the definitive guide to making your site accessible. There is also a checklist based on the guidelines produced by WebAIM.

Making your site accessible helps everyone, but especially users with visual or hearing impairments, and people with slow web connections.

A useful resource for understanding accessibility issues is Dive into accessibility, which presents a series of things you can do to make your website more accessible, and some case studies of people with disabilities.

There is also a selection of tools you can use to analyse your web pages for accessibility. These make the process very much easier - but they are no substitute for understanding accessibility and learning the basic accessibility guidelines.