Christ Church of Berkeley

7 comments | Posted: 13 June 06 in Featured, by Nathan Smith


I’m not sure why, but I hadn’t seen or noticed this site before, because it is quite well done. It is simple, to the point, and has an quaintly inviting feel to it. Through clicking around a bit, I realized there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. It blends simplicity with a variety of features.

Their menu system is a bit different, but makes sense once you get the hang of it. The main navigation drops down and is replaced by the secondary menu on sub-pages. At first this was a bit disorienting, but when you think about it, the implimentation actually is quite intuitive, keeping the navigation you’ll want to use next in the same general area.

Particularly impressive is their Event Calendar, which is completely driven by ExpressionEngine, as is the entirety of their site. Calendars are one of the key things I think that a church website needs, and is an area which many CMS‘s fall short. In the past, I resorted to using EasyPHPCalendar for client sites, which is anything but “easy” to work with. When I last used it, Easy had two doctypes declared on every page, HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0 Transitional.

Imagine being able to blog an event, even one well into the future, and have it’s title show up in the correct day on the calendar. No switching between the main CMS and calendar app, just seamless integration. That’s sure to make any church webmaster happy. Anyway, I will quit ranting about calendars. Suffice it to say, this is a big plus both on the admin side and for the end-user.

I am also very impressed by their Download Sermons area, which provides visitors the option of MPEG Layer 3">MP3, PDF, subscribing via RSS or directly with iTunes. There is also a little icon with the label Text. When you click it, the relevant Bible verses appear. JavaScript like this is used quite tastefully. For example, on the Directions page, there are smooth scrolling inter-page anchor links. It also makes use of the Google Maps API to help people find their way.

As far as design goes, I love the subtle background pattern which fades into a solid gray-blue. I like that the color pallette has been kept consistent, as it is often easy to go overboard. I myself have been guilty of this. Also, the logo type is very cool. It’s sort of retro looking, and reminds me of an antique shop. In case you are curious, the name of that font is Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

For a church in California, I think it was a bold choice to not go for a super-slick Hollywood style look and feel. If you look closely at the logo, you will see the top of a Celtic style cross, which also hints at a sunrise shape over the bridge. This is juxtaposed by the spire, which is positioned slightly to the left, and hints at the continued shape of a cross, without being obvious.

Overall, Christ Church Berkeley has done a superb job in making an experience that feels comfy and inviting while also boasting impressive site functionality.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Nate Klaiber

    I must say, the more I see EE sites in production – the more I like them. They do it very well, in that they integrate everything (like you mentioned with the calendar). I like the unobtrusive use of javascript throughout the site – especially with the text and download options.

    This site is very simple, very clean, and has a neat interface.

    To whomever is involved in developing this site, keep up the great work!

  2. 2 Dan Perdue

    This is a great find Nathan.

    The overall feeling I get from the site is just one of amazing class. Everything fits together so nicely, nice and tight.

  3. 3 Jesse J Anderson

    nice looking site. The menu system isn’t my favorite because it does require some thinking… but that’s probably more a matter of taste.

    The light blue sidebar on the left is very nice looking – very clean and nice on the eyes.

    The calendar is awesome… I would kill to get that setup. I may have to look into this a little more as I’m working on a new website for my church and the auto-updating would be awesome!

    All in all great site! Definitely one added to my “inspiration” folder. =)

  4. 4 Sean Sperte

    I don’t need to add much to this discussion, as everything already said I completely agree with—from Nathan’s assessment of the calendar and overall look to Nate’s statement to the developer(s) (keep up the good work!) to Jesse’s thoughts on the navigation.

    Honestly, I’m so glad to see a site utilitize ExpressionEngine’s calendar abilities, and when I clicked on an event and saw LightBox I literally said aloud, “yes!”

    Well done Matt! Great job!

  5. 5 Leslie

    That is a beautifully done site, congrats Matt! I always love seeing our software put to get use.

  6. 6 Matt Vanderzalm

    Thanks for the great review and the nice compliments. Godbit has been a tremendous resource as I worked on this site, so your recognition and feedback mean a lot to me.

    If you hadn’t noticed the site before now, it’s probably because we only launched it a few weeks ago, just barely in time for our church’s first service on Easter. In fact, the calendar feature didn’t go live until a little over 24 hours ago, so many of you probably saw it before most of the folks in our church.

    I by no means want to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for ExpressionEngine — I could go on and on about what a remarkable tool it is — but I also don’t want to oversell the native calendaring system. I’m pretty psyched with how it turned out, but the process of creating a functional event calendar was more of a convoluted challenge than I anticipated. In fact, it would have been more or less impossible if it weren’t for the Repeet plugin (since EE doesn’t have a way to generate repeating events).

    I’m pleased that you noticed the subtleties of the logo, Nathan. Our church was blessed to have a couple of graphic designers as part of the launch team, and my friends did a nice job with the design. I’m glad that I was able to do their logo justice, even at the low resolution.

    Anyhow, thanks again for the feedback. We’re such a young church, and I’m sure the site will be changing as the church changes, so it’s great to hear what y’all think.

  7. 7 Mark Priestap

    Very nice site indeed. On a side note, it’s good to see a PCA site done so well. :-) Very well done!!


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