I suppose it would be a neat thing to walk into bricks-n-mortar church supply store that would bathe you in showers of daisies, soft light and heavenly music while butterflies licked at your ears and soft pink images rested your eyes. Perhaps that’s what the web servant of the PaxHouse New and Used Traditional Church Supplies web site was thinking when they created this page that attempted to implement all of the above effects on a two dimensional idiom that has a limited ability to produce such sensations – and who’s target audience are generally people, even church people, want to load fast and give them what they want and need right away.
So while I can appreciate the effect web servant was after, I have to say that IMHO, it fails miserably both as an online store, and as an art site. Once again proving the adage that you cannot serve two masters. Looking at the front page, I see several technologies that make a page unusable. Many are unusable because a good number of company firewalls and security minded users are beginning to block technologies such as the java applet on this page that provides a slide show of ‘The Beautiful Churches of Guadalajara.’ For those of us with browsers that still applet, this means having to wait … and wait … and wait … for something that could have and should have been done using a streaming technology such as MacroMedias Flash. But again, why do this at all? If you’re running a store, show us your wares, if you want an ‘art’ or ‘photo’ site, then create a separate travel/hobby page.
In case you weren’t aware. There is a dicipline of computer science known ‘Human Computer Interface’ (HCI) where companies spend thousands if not millions enlisting well-known research facilities such as the HCI labs at University of Maryland and/or Carnegie Mellon to study exactly the best way to provide my computer with a mousing mechanism that is easy and intuitive. Which is why I’m always amazed at people who BREAK that functionality on my browser with stupid things like cursed cursor trailers and/or by changing the pointer. In this case, it is the former in the form of a pretty papillon which while a pleasant thought, comes across like a cheap trick. Don’t do this. Don’t break things on my browser that work. Don’t make it hard for me to click on things.
MIDI music is another bandwidth bombing no-no. First off, there are issues of copyrights and royalties. Second there is an issue of our sanity as these tunes become irritating as they loop and loop for one lingers – though somehow I don’t suspect this a problem for this site. Though for me, the loopy factor was quickly achieved with a pretty-in-pink background wallpaper that reminded me of departed grandmother’s bathroom.
As for the shower of flowers, perhaps if you’re running a snowy Santa Clause site, this might be neat for about a minute. But anyone tempted to use this technology needs to ask themselves some questions. Does this, OR ANY, gee-wiz technology I use do anything to bring people into my site or are does it look cheap? Have I employed some techno-bang that gets people to buy stuff, or am I driving people to distraction in the form of going away? I think the site in question provides some answers.
IMHO, there is nothing more useless than a splash page, especially one chock-full-o- Jesus Junk as this. Most splash pages get in the way, make it harder for people to find your content, and instruct search engines to ignore you site. In the case of this site, you need to scroll past all the gizmos and effects to find the entry point, the same way someone kicks past a lot of junk on the floor of a kid’s bedroom to get to the closet. Nothing like hiding your light under a basket.
There are some other irritating effects such as animated gifs of birdies, but I called it quits once I found the well hidden link to enter the store – which upon my click, I was hit with another cheap trick, the screen swipe. Which was followed by a page that was equally long to load and hard to read, which required I go to yet another, third page, to see the goods and services they’re selling – without the benefit of using an SSL order form – though these guys do sell on eBay. Which perhaps explains why the web servant hasn’t dropped a dime and used a real domain on a real web site. Which is perhaps why I personally, IMHO, would have some reservations before plunking down some $$. The same holds true for a church web site – people tend not to take you seriously if you’re still on geocities.
It’s your call how you want to design your site. If you want more good examples of bad design, then I would suggest you visit Father Flanders’ confessional.
If you are look for good examples of what I define as Jesus Junk then look no further than this page.