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What Makes a Synagogue Website Outdated?

Posted on January 18, 2013
by Hirsch Fishman

When the Internet first developed in the late 1990’s, synagogue members acting as volunteers were often the driving force behind synagogues’ first websites. The development of website technology has been vast in the ensuing 10-15 years, but unfortunately as a collective body, synagogue websites have largely lagged behind.

From my observations while preparing my posts on the best Conservative synagogue websites and best Reform temple websites, the majority of synagogue websites are still using outdated technology to run their sites. In fact, many websites look like they haven’t changed at all in the past 10 years, despite having outlived their useful life cycle.

What do I consider “outdated”?

You can tell a website is outdated with just a quick glance – the “eye test”. More specifically though, here are some of the technological aspects that determine how modern a website is:

  • HTML files – Is the website still a series of HTML files edited manually using an HTML editing program?
  • No CSS – Is the look of the website coded directly into the HTML and not contained in a separate CSS style sheet?
  • Depends on Flash – Does the website use a lot of Flash elements, which is rapidly becoming a deprecated technology in today’s web?
  • No coherent organization – Is the content of the homepage unorganized, with most content posted wherever it fits?
  • No content management system – Systems such as WordPress offer so many advantages in terms of management and functionality that it’s a gimme to use them.

Are all synagogue websites outdated?

Not at all. There are lots of synagogue website out there that are well-designed, well-organized, and take advantage of modern web technologies such as a WordPress content management system.

Major synagogue movements such as the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are even working to move members’ websites into modern times by offering free (to affiliates) WordPress websites that take advantage of modern web technologies. And certainly the growth in the number of professional website firms and designers catering to synagogues speaks to the fact that there is demand on the part of synagogues as they recognize the need to improve their websites.

When I criticize synagogue websites for being outdated, I understand that there is a big, big difference in resources (time, money, and people) between large, well-funded synagogues and smaller- to medium-sized synagogues, and that one area this difference is manifested is the website.

However, I don’t believe that the need for a website and what it contains are dependent on the size of the synagogue. Synagogues need to view themselves as professional organizations running a professional website presence, and as such need to have a better way of assigning responsibility for it.

Get started on a new website for your synagogue

The website is too important a means of communication for a synagogue not to prioritize it accordingly. If your synagogue has an outdated website that badly needs updating with more modern technologies, we can work with you on an affordable website solution. Contact us today to get started.

About Hirsch Fishman

Hirsch has been working professionally with websites since 2001, working exclusively in, and focusing on, the Jewish community. Hirsch offers a wide range of website knowledge to his synagogue web design clients from his years of experience working in the Jewish community. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.