UPDATE – 25jul03 – Not long after receiving a nice email from the webservant, this site underwent a rather nice and effective redesign. My highest kudos always go to those with teachable spirits – and here is one case where the lesson was well learned and well implemented. Well done! If you’d like to see what the site looked like before, you can do so via the Internet Wayback Machine
As church websites go, the Burtonsville Baptist Church in Montgomery County, Maryland is as nice a site as you’re going to get using a stock theme and stock navigation with Microsoft Frontpage 3.0.
Okay, so they could do away with some of the animated .gifs, the cheap clip-art and make the home page a bit smaller. Still, the site appears organized well enough to give a potential visitor an idea of what they might get on a Sunday morning visit (though some sample sermons might go a bit further to help that along).
Instead, the reason I mention this church web site is because it employs a technology that ironically enough, penalizes users of Microsoft Internet Explorer. Page Transitions, a.k.a. page swipes and/or page fades. For those of you enjoying fast new toys like Phoenix, what you won’t get is a time penalty when you click on a sub-page link. The penalty comes in the form of a “fade” or “swipe.” In this case the MSIE user sees the new page appear as an ever enlarging circle from the center of the old page until the new page is the current page.
This may be a neat feature if you were making home movies, but the star of this show is supposed to be your compelling content. To hide it under a bowl with such a gimmick only frustrates your users – and in many cases, drives visitors away. Don’t Do This!
One other thing I might do is to offer a set of top-level links, using nothing but text, and place it at the bottom of your sub-pages just above the copyright statement. It makes navigation much easier as most users from this region of the World read left to right, top to bottom. But mostly, I’d lose the page transitions – until then, I’ll disable them on my browser.