Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

1st United Lutheran Church – Kennesaw, GA

Introduction

I drive my wife crazy in the car.
Not doing anything wreckless, but chattering at the driver in front of me like he can hear me, and by my compulsion to I identify pieces of music on the radio while flipping between the three classical music stations here near D.C. And its not actually my showing-off that bugs her, but my insisting that she at least guess the composer or period that makes her contemplate one of those daring movie manuevers where the hostage rolls out of the car to safety.

Now it’s your turn. Without viewing the source, I would like you to take a quick glance at today’s brave volunteer and see if you can guess which application was used to generate these pages … I’ll be here when you get back >>>

Did you guess FrontPage? Yeah, that jimmy-cone-sprinkles background, and those jagged stock graphics give it away. Which is a shame, because the First United Lutheran Church of Kennesaw , GA has good navigation and good content! Though I’m not going to run this site through the full criteria, mostly because I think many portions of their house are in order, but I do want to use this site to cover some ascetic &/or artistic issues that need to be covered.

Less is More
Graphics Galore

On the front page, there is an announcement for their vacation Bible school who’s theme this year is “Bug Safari.” Bugs & kids, yeah, that’s cool. But what’s not cool is four bugs where one would do. But what really bugs me … well all of them look a bit grainy and somewhat cheap. Moreover, many of them could use a bit of color reduction/optimization. The dragonfly alone was 11833 bytes! I’m not even going to mention the grainy-n-girthy ECLA logo.

News to You

I like the idea of blogging out announcements, and offering headlines and links to the annoucements from the front page. That is a VERY good application of inviting content. What could use healing are the fonts colors and sizes employed. TOO LOUD. That and you might want to reduce the verbosity of the content on your home page. For example, “posted by …” and/or the first sentence of the story cause the viewer of the front page have to scroll for data. Since the announcements have their own page, why not just offer the headlines in a bold font which themselves are hyperlinks to the annoucement itself? This would ‘tidy’ up the page a bit without sacrificing the compelling content. I think the same effect could be used with Kristen’s Bosnia Blog.

On your nickle

I can see why you would have the Alt-Connet logo, as the company is donating the pages, it is reasonable reciprocation – though I might make the logo a bit smaller. What I find excessive is the CrossSeach.com link and the huge ECLA graphic (26k). Now if CrossSearch is paying you, or the church, that’s one thing and I’ll just shut my mouth. But, putting their search engine on your site is confusing. When I entered the word “sermons,” I was expecting to see any sermons your site has to offer. Instead, I get links offsite that have nothing to do with your site nor your church. Likewise, offering the ECLA information isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not home page material – is there a resources page, or an about us page that you could move it to?

Odds-ends, & other pages

As I said, good content … GOOD content. There are some minor tweaks though I might make. The sermons page (again, a good example of compelling content), why not make the sermon titles hyperlinks instead of “read” next to each one? Driving directions – make sure you can print them out all on a single page of 8.5×11 paper. But mostly, its your color and font theme that get in the way. Description Meta tags will make finding your content easier — once you add a search engine to your own site. BTW, add “of Kennesaw, GA” to your <title> tag – makes search engineers really happy.

Wrap-up

If I had to change just ONE thing on your site, it would be your color scheme. Maybe it’s my bright new 18″ flat panel display that’s blinding me, but it’s just so … well … so 1998-ish. You’ve got excellent content. You’ve good good organization, and as a result, easy to follow navigation. What I would suggest is purchasing a template that has a cleaner look-n-feel.

And if/when you do, remember that less == more. Offer little invites on your page. IF THEY ARE ALL BIG, BOLD, BLOATED AND BRIGHT THEN IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE YELLING AT US ALL THE TIME AND WE BEGIN TO TUNE IT OUT. If you’re going to roll your own theme, that’s fine, just tone it down a bit.

Again, good work on the hard stuff – like branding, using text titles instead of graphics, and easy to understand menu titles. All stuff that makes the First United Lutheran Church of Kennesaw , GA site a good example of compelling content, and the variety of content one can apply. Now all that is left is to fix the fun stuff !-)

In other words, good job not falling into the trap that ensares so many web servants – who try to look cool first. Instead, you have tackled the difficult job of offering substance – now you get to be stylish. Take off that propeller beanie and put on an artists beret!

3 Comments

  1. I peaked at the source and my first guess was right (but it was a guess). At least they didn’t use the default buttons that came with the package. And they are using “higher” technology–active pages. Not bad.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Dean. Funny thing is, I *knew* that the theme was a weak spot. I’ve done a lot of work in the last few months on content management…always saying that I’d re-work the look “real soon now”.

    Some of your suggestions have already been implemented; there’s only one bug on the home page now, the CrossSearch box is gone, the TITLE has been adjusted to include the city and state, and the sermon titles are now links. More to come soon.

    As for that jaggy ELCA logo: Believe it or not, it was lifted (with permission) directly from the ELCA website (www.elca.org). It’s SUPPOSED to be jaggy…although the reasoning escapes me.

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