Heal Your Church WebSite

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

5 Things I Could Have Known …

Some real fun for the week’s first cup of coffee! It would appear that one of the sites I critiqued last week has posted a rebuttal on their site – more on that particular action in a second, but first let’s address Five things Dean Peters Could Have Known . . . If He Had Taken The Time To Ask! Here are the web servant’s points, each followed my comments:

  1. title – regarding my advice about putting the church’s name and location in the <title> tag the web servant responds with:

    Anyone can get to our web site (lifechangingchurch.com) by typing in woodruffroadchristianchurch.com

    I have to admit, I chuckled a bit over this one, in part because the web servant goes through the painstaking process of listing a table of the hit ranks on various search engines – provided the individual executing the search has committed to memory the following url: woodruffroadchristianchurch.com

    Put another way, unless visitors from out of town are psychic er, prophetic … how are they going to know there is a church named ‘Woodruf’ in “Greenville, SC“? Actually, the part that made me grin was the thought that if an individual ALREADY KNOWS the domain name, then why would he/she look it up on a search engine?

    How this guy should have defended himself was to say that if a person enters “woodruff road christian church” as it ranks up nicely in search engines … but again, how likely is it that potential visitors not familiar with the church’s name or Greenville,SC, would think of ‘woodruff’ ? Location, location, location!

  2. on the cardinal sin of using of graphics to portent text:

    I made the decision to go with a graphics header for the church name for aesthetic reasons. Since the church can be found through the major search engines, having the name in normal text was less important to me for visiting spiders.

    First, as a rule of debate, one should not tightly couple their arguments – especially when one of them is so weak – that being the entire search engine thing. To that I will direct further debate to the experts at Search Engine Watch.

    Aesthetic? Well, that’s very subjective, but most graphics-geeks I know would get the boot if their header consumed the first 146 pixels of their page (175 if you count the height of the Methodist-like cross sharing the table row) – who’s girth alone consumed over 11k of my user’s bandwidth (18k if you count the cross)! Then again, what do I know? I’m only a guy with degrees in both the fine arts and computer science, and 20 years experience, regurgitating the same advice voiced by usability giants such as Flanders and Nielsen.


  3. hmmm … there seems to be a fixation here on my advice to ‘title-up‘ your church’s name AND location:

    I have our church name in the <title> tag. If one considers that the church’s location is on Woodruff Road, then the location of the church is in a sense located in the <title> tag as well … Searching: “20 Bell Road Greenville”

    Two quick points here. Though I lived for a few years in Greenville, NC, I have never been to Greenville, SC. How in the world would I know there exists a Woodruff Road? 20 Bell Road? I mean if I knew all that … I know, redundant. Second, and imagine me saying this in my best NYC accent – would it KILL the guy to just add Greenville, SC to the stinking <title> tag instead of consuming mass quantities of electrons (and time) arguing online against it?

  4. about the picture of Kerry –

    All the pictures I have taken indoors have not been of the quality I am willing to put on this web site … couldn’t afford anything more than the digital camera …

    First question that comes to my mind is, if indoor pictures aren’t cutting it, then perhaps take the camera and the subject outside? Second question is, if “all I have” is a digital camera – well – I’m not sure if it’s going to bear any fruit to argue issues of visual impact images can have on home pages with one who argues the aesthetics of fuzzy “boxy lady” title text. In other words, move the gray-scale head-shot to pages about the church, or the staff, etc.

  5. scrolling marquee text -

    I may not be a holy roller, but I am a holy scroller! I have a marquee because I like it.

    Holy Scroller – cute – I’m going to use that from now on when I talk about web servants who take important text and compel the user to suffer through it one letter at a time … in spite of what various usability surveys indicate. Again, why collude, obfuscate or otherwise hide the light of your message under a bowl? I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like a schill for Flanders and Nielsen again.

Actually, the web servant’s last point is a great lead-in for my last observation. I ask this question of EVERYONE – whom does your church’s web site serve? If you’re doing things that industry experts advise against only because you “like it,” then there may be issues of accountability that might need to be explored. I am always careful to make clear that I critique church sites because it is often the case that those in need healing often don’t represent the personality and purpose of their church. Unlike my site, a personal blog not affiliated with any church, I find it troubling that the anyone would create/modify an entire page of a site that is intended represent the entire Body of his/her congregation with a personal rebuttal. If what you’re doing does not serve your target audiences, then pluck it out!

One final note. All have sinned. You should have seen my first church web site back in 1997 – on second thought, it’s too early in the morning for such things. I have no problem changing practices or opinions if people make good points that are well argued and well corroborated. For example, I’ve had a recent change in heart about hyperlinks and the target arg – more on that later . . . The same could have been true for the web servant at Woodruff had he only practiced what he preached and taken the time to ask me. For example, it is common knowledge that if you are going to render text with graphics (point 1), that you use a .GIF and not a .JPG format!

On a personal note, I hope this all ends here. I do not like these wars across pages, especially when one side is a church. My calling is not to disparage churches, but to build the Body by helping others build better sites. I’ve used Woodruff’s pages as an example we can all learn from, nothing more, nothing less, nothing anyone should take personally.


  1. Goodness. I’m glad you can laugh, I popped over to both URL’s and the fact this dude used the front page to rubutt your comments says much more than his meager defense of his work. Why would someone ask for assistance and then defend the indefensible? Proverbs 18:2….A rebel doesn’t care about the facts. All he wants to do is yell”.
    I feel sorry for this guy, more than his web page needs correction.

  2. Martin, in fairness, these three sites did not ask to be critiqued – so I can understand someone getting their feathers a bit ruffled at first – still – it’s not like my advice isn’t well founded. C’est la vie’

  3. C’est bon. It could have been c’est le gere!

  4. Dean, I love your work, but please! Proof read! This post is a shocker, especially towards the end. You have a big problem with omitting and repeating words.

    And good spelling brings much healing.

  5. YUP – and thanks for the heads-up … it was long – and very early in the A.M.

    I should know better (saying this while pulling the plank outta my eye). Sure whish MT had a spell check!

    Check it again (don’t forget to flush your cache) – let me know if its still crazy.


  6. Much better! It was so much easier to read this time.

    The only dodgy sentence I picked up this time was: “I find it troubling that the anyone would create/modify an entire page of a site that is intended represent the entire Body”