Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Review : The Pembroke Pentacostal Tabernacle, Ontario

As you may have noticed, I’ve been rehashing some old material. Not out of
laziness, but because like a bueno-good burrito, some of these lessons bear repeating.
Well today I found a site reminded me of several smaller but significant issues I’ve
pointed out in various posts past. So here is a quick refresher based a church web site
I stumbled onto quite by accident – The Pembroke
Pentacostal Tabernacle of Pembroke, Ontario
:

FrontPage
doesn’t kill websites
, people kill websites …
My complaint with FrontPage is that the templates that come with it … well
they stink. And because rolling your own templates in FrontPage is so incredibly
tedious and unintuitive even for a geek like me, most people stick with the stock
images and layouts. Which means while most of these sites are reasonably organized
and structured, the navigation schemes are often incomplete or equally unintuitive. The
emphasis FrontPage has on “word processing” often encourages the neophyte to make
font selections and color scheme often SCREAM MY PAGE STINKS in a
obscene use of geometries and color that would make Matisse roll over in his grave. And
don’t even get me started on the stinky ‘trinket-like’ clip art I simply refer to
as Jesus Junk.’

Worse, because FrontPage’s emphasis is similar to its kissing cousin MS Publisher (another
product who’s web pages I’ve learned to loathe) many web sites produced with FrontPage fail the basics
of usability
. Today’s example site, for example, implements frames – which is okay if you
don’t mind freezing 25% of your usable space, breaking the navigational capabilities
and making it really hard for users to bookmark specific pages. It also makes it harder
on search engines, some of which are now penalizing framed sites. Of course, you also
take a search engine hit when you use graphics instead of text to represent titles and
keywords contained within the body of the page. Okay, so let’s
review.

  • Don’t use FrontPage unless you can build or buy better templates.
  • Don’t employ frames (for your church website).
  • Stick to a single font and simple color scheme (text abuse)
  • Don’t use graphics to represent text
  • Stay away from the cheesy clip-art (Jesus Junk)

Obvious
Stuff – All things for all pages
– another problem with generated graphic
navigation is that sometimes webservants forget that not everyone has graphics,
JavaScript and other gadgets plugged-in or turned on. So if you’re going to put them nifty
graphic-based rollover .gif menus on the left, then make sure you have some simple-to-use text links
along the bottom. Personally, regardless of whatever navigation schemes and themes
I employ, I always put text navigation along the bottom … because people in my hemisphere tend to read
stuff left to right, top to bottom. I also suggest making sure the address and phone number
of the church is on the front page of your website.

It also doesn’t hurt to
at least put the city, state/province and phone# along the bottom with the text
menu. Remember, visitors want to know where and when first, then they go onto
what you believe and what you offer. Also, take care of that <title> tag.
Make sure it includes the name of the church, the city and the state or province
in which it is located. ‘Pelase’ Proof Read,
or in the case of the page in question – and a similar find – make
sure it is spelled correctly
. Keep in mind, most people search
for churches by denomination and location. Make it easy for them to find both
in the same query. So again quickly, the quiz will include the following items:

  • Appropriate Page Titles
  • Name of church/organization
  • Text navigation along the bottom
  • Address, phone numbers along bottom
  • Contacts and driving directions conspicuous
  • Spell your denomination’s name correctly

Finally, remember, compelling
content rules
the day
. Having
a music page
that merely lists the titles of the various music ministries offered
is similar in concept to Mystery Meat Navigation. Only with the later, with
some guesswork, you can at least can see online what is being hidden under a virtual bowl.
In other words, the music page in question doesn’t give a potential visitor much to go on. A paragraph or two for each title would go a long way. Similarly, the home
page should offer
what I like to call ‘chocolate kiss content.’ Once you eat
one, you want 100 more. Remember, a church web site should be more
than a pretty brochure
. It is an extension of your church’s personality and
purpose to those seeking, and an aide to existing members. Let me clarify that
last point:

  • Compelling Content Rules The Day
  • Its about the Content Stupid
  • Content, Content, Content!

3 Comments

  1. I think frames get a bad rap. That Alertbox is 6 years old already, and Jake himself even lightened up a few years later in this alertbox: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html. I’ve never understood the “breaks the users mental model” argument – I’ve never seen this explained. Users click licks to get content – does it really break some model they have? http://psychology.wichita.edu/optimalweb/frames.htm also mentions some research showing users actually preferring frames.

    Not to say that they aren’t bad most of the time, but I don’t think frames are always bad.

  2. No where on this site do they tell you where the church physically is! That’s just bad marketing. (Woops, churches don’t do marketing, my mistake.)

  3. Physically it’s in Pembroke, Ontario, if you wanted to pay them a visit. FrontPage has improved a heck of a lot since earlier versions, which bloated pages to twice their original size, but it still doesn’t do the job too well.