Soma Communities

1 comment | Posted: 7 April 07 in Featured, by Nathan Smith


This site was posted on the Godbit forum quite awhile ago for critique, and I had praised the design but pointed out that there were some code validation issues. I’m happy to say that the developers took the feedback to heart, and the site now validates as XHTML 1.0 Strict. I am glad this is the case, because the design is impressive and now it has the underlying code base to match.

I love the grittiness of the site, and how it feels very organic and urban, but without feeling too mechanical or inhuman. I think the warmer tones of orange and brown lend a bit of approachability that might not otherwise be there. The cohesiveness of the design toes the line between edgy and familiar – sort of like an old pair of shoes that are inviting because they are already worn in.

There is a quaint mixture of old-fashioned class meets modern grunge, from the stylized type in the logo’s “S” to the angular lines and stencil fonts of the sub-heading text graphics. The sephia color treatment on the images also helps lend a bit of an aged-photo-album feeling to it the user experience.

From a technical standpoint, the developers did their due diligence to ensure that the roll-over menu works with JavaScript disabled, opting for a pure CSS solution that is to be commended. One caveat I would point out is that a mouse is still required to use the site. The menus could have been coded to activate on :focus as well as :hover, which would have allowed for keyboard navigation. This would have been especially helpful for the Search box.

There are slight accessibility issues with the calendar. Without JavaScript, it doesn’t work. Since the URL is static, months cannot be bookmarked or linked to, which would be handy for coordinating attendance to scheduled events.

Big Fish Not wanting to end on a negative note, let me just say that the candid staff photos on the Who We Are page really helps round out the site. While some might say a giant whopper of a fish catch might be “unprofessional,” I say that’s what the Christian life is all about – genuinely being yourself. Overall, this site is an exemplary design by Mark Priestap and a feature-rich development effort by the guys at Ekklesia 360. With a little more attention given to accessibility the next time around, new sites will be 100% on-track.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Phil Coffman

    This is a really nice looking site! Immediately I am drawn in with the colors, graphics and grungy look. The photos on the homepage work well together, their color palettes are consistent and the photographic styles are creatively similar.

    My main critique comes when I navigate from the homepage to a sub-page. While the top section remains consistent with the homepage, the bottom content area breaks the design aesthetic. The lighter background color, the modern icons and clean layout just stands in contrast to the rest of the site. I think that marrying more of the grungy design elements into those sub-pages would have made for a more overall consistent experience.

    That being said, the content is easy to find, read and navigate through and I applaud the details that have been done with the grunge elements. It’s always refreshing to me to see sites that are standards-compliant, but still strive for a unique and raw aesthetic beauty.


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