Happy Holidays from the UUA!
We’re excited to announce that very early in January, we’ll be releasing the much-anticipated update to the WordPress Theme that you’ve downloaded for your congregation’s website. This update fixes some of the issues that you as users have identified, as well as adds some new features.
Here’s how to ensure a smooth transition to the update…
- Anytime after January 5, check your WordPress Dashboard for the theme update notification. Follow steps 4-8 of the instructions to install the update, make needed updates to service dates, add a Google Maps API, and add the inSpirit bookstore widget.
In addition to the update, we’re also shifting some responsibilities for administrative and technical support.
- Christopher Wulff, who originally developed the theme and this update, will be providing the last bit of transition support in early January and will be rotating off this project to focus on his other ministry pursuits. Thank you, Christopher, for your commitment to supporting this vital tool for congregations!
- Outreach, which is now a part of the UUA Communications staff group, will continue to manage the theme, with support from UUA’s IT Services, namely, the web team. We’re also contracting with an outside company to provide the tech support that we aren’t able to offer in-house.
- We’ll continue to rely heavily on the peer support that you provide each other through the forum and Facebook group, but if you run into questions or problems that can’t be answered/solved there, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll route your questions to those best able to help.
We hope this update will help you stay relevant as a source for liberal faith in your local communities!
Anna Bethea, UUA Outreach Specialist
Margy Levine Young, UUA Web Team Manager
Christopher Wulff, UUA Pacific Western Region Communications Specialist
Greetings and we hope you’re enjoying spring and the approaching summer. We’ve been so happy to see the great work done by so many congregations using the theme (see some of them under example sites). We just wanted to give you a bit of an update about the theme update.
Some of the things the update will change:
- The Services plugin moves to separate the service date from the published date using a custom field. This fixes the issue of services 404ing, not being able to share them, and being restricted to the brief descriptions. The plugin will run a piece of code once to migrate all of your existing services’ time/date information to the new field.
- The Speakers’ names now link to their archives and show their ‘description/bio’ at the top of the page. Their names and excerpted bios (read more) also show at the bottom of single services in both archives and upcoming (single service only, not on the upcoming listing page).
- The Services custom field for service time is complemented by a custom field for service display time, for those congregations that have two services. In the service time field, put in the time of the later service (so it doesn’t expire after the first one) and then write in “9:30 and 11:00” or what have you in the service time display field and the theme will show that.
- Adding a category template that shows the category description at page top.
- Fixing the full-page template.
- Lots of fixes to other small issues (media uploader, logo, etc.) that will be detailed in the changelog.
- The service we were using for updates, wp-updates.com, has fallen apart completely, so this update won’t show as an automatic one in WordPress. We’ll send you an email when it’s ready and you’ll need to upload it just like the first time using Appearances > Themes. We’ve switched to a commercial service for future updates, so this shouldn’t be an issue going forward (which is good as we’ll be moving to a more frequent update schedule).
- We could really use some beta testers for the update who can confirm that it works as expected before we send it out to everyone. To be a beta tester, you’ll need to be able to set up a duplicate of your existing site – not a new instance with the demo content, but a duplicate of your real site. This is easy if you’re with one of the better hosting companies that have one-click staging options, a little more difficult for those on cheaper shared hosting plans where staging sites aren’t available. If you can help us out as a beta tester, I would be forever in your debt (and it will speed this process up a little). Contact me to sign up using the form below.
We’ve just enabled the plugin Swiftype Search on this site – it makes intelligent suggestions as you type your search terms, helping you find what you need. The search bar is toward the bottom of the left-hand menu.
We’ve got a new sample content file for your upload! The previous version contained events, staff, photos, sound and video, and specific information about the fictitious congregation we created for the Theme demo site. The new sample content file takes out all that fictitious stuff, giving you just the files you might actually use on your site, like the UU Principles, Welcoming Congregation statement, and About Unitarian Universalism. No more need to delete all the references to Rev. Faith Hope-Love, Joy Justicia and UU of Somewhere! Download it from this page.
Folks using the UUA WordPress Theme have been noting a few limits on the Services plugin. We hope to expand the plugin’s capacities with future updates. But in the meantime, here are some things you can do to work successfully within its limits. First, keep your service descriptions short so there doesn’t need to be a “continued” link. This means about 50 words/ 240 characters or less. Second, if you want to post a longer description, a bio, and/or a picture, create a news post about it in addition to putting it in the service plugin. And finally: this news post is shareable on social media, because it has its own URL (unlike the upcoming service in the plugin.)
We’ve made the support forum require an account now so that we can follow up with folks who have questions and so they can subscribe to updates on their questions. So, if you have a question in the support forum, click the “Login to ask a question button” and either login if you have an account already or register to create an account. We look forward to seeing you in the support forum.
So, one of the things we’ve tried to be consistent with while working on this theme, is not building in functionality that’s better handled by existing plugins. One, it lets us keep our maintenance load lower by limiting the number of things we need to maintain; and two, we leverage a broader community for functionality enhancements. So we’re always on the lookout for ways to integrate other plugins that do pretty well exactly what we were planning to do.
With that in mind, we’re taking the podcasting functionality out of the Services plugin and recommending the use of Seriously Simple Podcasting instead. The nice thing about Seriously Simple Podcasting is that it can be attached to the Services post type, so you have the podcast functionality right on each Service’s page.
We’ll take some screen captures of the settings we’re using and add them here soon.