Congregation B’nai Amoona is a fully egalitarian conservative synagogue located in Creve Coeur, Missouri. B’nai Amoona has an active community that includes approximately 800 families within the Greater St. Louis area.
Like most longtime established organizations, congregation B’nai Amoona had a website already when they came to Blayzer for a redesign. In fact, we’re the ones who created it, way-way-way back in 2007!
The old site was still plugging along, but had started to show its age both aesthetically and functionally. Technology and website design have changed dramatically since 2007, and while the old site had lasted far longer than the average 2-4 years, it was time for an overhaul.
Perhaps the biggest development of the past decade has been the need for mobile responsiveness, as many people access websites from their smart phones or tablets, often while they’re on-the-go. B’nai Amoona wanted their website to be compatible with any devices people in their community might use at anytime, anywhere.
Besides a modern, mobile-friendly design and website layout, the old B’naiAmoona.com also needed better navigation throughout the website. Visitors needed to be able to find what they were looking for quickly and with a minimal number of clicks. Because the synagogue has so many different programs and clubs, the site had grown packed with information over time, which gave things a somewhat cluttered feel, mostly due to the old 2007 design’s poor use of horizontal space. Widescreen monitors and websites that fit them didn’t become the norm until around 2009.
During discovery and needs analysis, we also learned that B’nai Amoona was in need of a few minor customizations to better serve its users. First, they wanted to aggregate their Google calendars into one central community calendar for the site. There were many different calendars for events, activities, meetings, and services. It was starting to get confusing, and people needed one central calendar to access all the going-on’s. B’Nai Amoona also had a particular need for a Cantor page that includes audio files for various sung and spoken prayers and blessings.
All in all, this seemed like a project that was right down Blayzer’s alley. We sat down for a series of in-depth analysis meetings with leaders of the synagogue to discuss content and strategies, and then we got down to work.
First, the Blayzer’s online content strategists hammered out a new sitemap that would increase efficiency and speed when clicking through the website. Navigation problems would be improved with re-grouped drop-down menus, showing visitors exactly what pages to click on to find their information. This information was reworked and updated to help de-clutter the content and make the website cleaner. We also included a handy left-hand navigation column on internal pages.
With content work underway, Blayzer’s development team took a look at the current website and decided it would be best to migrate to WordPress, because of its customizable design and SEO compatibility. Once the client gave us the OK, the team got to work on a theme-based design.
For the new design, we started with a theme and customized everything to fit the synagogue’s brand and identity. Themes are often a great place to start because they have the framework in place and it’s been tested and proven in terms of function, mobile-responsive coding, and more. To pull the site away from the cookie-cutter aesthetics that themes can carry with them, we included a custom photography session in their package. Blayzer’s photography partner visited the synagogue to take pictures of facilities and people for the site, to give it a unique sense of life, energy, and community.
While design and photos can speak volumes about an organization, nothing says it quite like video. Blayzer also worked with a partner to shoot and edit an informative welcome video for the site’s homepage as part of this project.
Lastly, Blayzer added in customizations and plug-ins to further enrich the site and provide value to the community. First, we installed a plug-in to combine all the information from several Google calendars into one central calendar on the website.
One of the biggest custom touches on the B’Nai Amoona synagogue website was adding the Cantor section where synagogue members could find, play, and download audio recordings of the blessings and prayers used during various ceremonies and celebrations. Rather than just providing the text content of the prayers, we linked audio files to be accessible to anyone who needed them.
Lastly, we made some additions to the site so that B’nai Amoona could be more accessible to its members and the community as a whole. A synagogue blog was started, which is updated frequently. Blayzer also added call-to-action buttons throughout the website, inviting visitors to sign up for the mailing list to receive their newsletter.
Congregation B’Nai Amoona has achieved the following results from working with Blayzer for their new website:
- Fresh, modern, mobile-friendly website
- Flexible CMS for easy updating
- Better content architecture & navigation
- Fully optimized SEO-friendly web pages
- Single, central community calendar
- Easily accessible cantor audio files
- Professional website photography
- Professional welcome video