Heal Your Church WebSite

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

Picture This

Anyone who’s read the chapters on graphics in Vincent Flanders’
Web Pages That Suck
Son of Web Pages That Suck
knows that if a picture is worth 1000 words, then the poor rendering of graphics can scream “don’t visit my church – we’re a bunch low-bandwidth lunatics” to seekers. Aside from the crime of pixel bloat, which I mentioned in post all the way back in May, another deadly sin is falling for graphic gimmicks.

gonna party like it's 1999
Don’t get me wrong, not all image effects are bad, but there are some that are dated and out-of context with your compelling content. Case in point … the one effect that I find common, or should I say plaguing, too many church web sites … I’m talking about the dreaded beveled edged image.

Now beveled edges on a small button that actually functions as a button is a good use of an existing human-user interface idiom. However, beveling a picture just because you can … don’t do this. It can potentially confuse the user, if it doesn’t make then think “sheesh, how lame is this?“!

Instead, consider the image in the context of your compelling content (yes, I know I’m repeating myself). Read your words, look at your page layout, then give your image careful consideration to determine if an effect is even called for at all. If it is, why? Are you trying to get the edges to blend in? Are you trying to give or take away the prominence of the image on your page? Is the effect distracting? Does it help you punctuate a point? Here are two effects based upon a free image courtesy of FreeFoto.com … one in which I want the edges to blend, one in which I want to subdue the image a bit – to the point of abstraction.

edgy church church freshly painted
Frame Edge Water Color

The point is, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Meaning, just because you can bevel and edge or inflict a page-turn effect on your image doesn’t mean you should.

One final thought. I personally find the photo of this particular church is good enough that effects aren’t really needed. That said, and realizing that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’d like to hear what you think.


  1. People are going to fuss over images the way the fuss over the music played in church. Your point to web-servants should be this:

    Keep them off your back and save your time–publish images with as little embellishment as possible.

  2. I have to agree with David. No fuzzy edges, no bevels, no nothing. A picture with perhaps a nice CSS border…

    IMG {border: solid 1px black; }

    …is all you really need. I feel that anything else is fluff, but then I’m a content guy, not a graphics guy.

  3. I agree with MeanDean on this one, and I like the comments so far, but I don’t really agree with them. There is no question that the world finds effects important, and for some reason we find the world enticing. I’m not saying that the church should copy the world, but as for me… you’ve got to draw me into your compelling content with compelling graphics. Alexa.com rates MTV’s website as 359 (of all websites in the world), and they’ve surely got graphic effects. Then you look at Yahoo.com, they surely don’t have “graphic affects” and Alexa rates them as number 1. While that seems to contadict my whole belief about compelling content, look at number 2. A lot of this is going to be based on who you’re trying to reach. My church isn’t reaching blue hairs with a Lynx text browser on their 1991 version 386 IBM. We are reaching 18-30 year olds who were born in the Internet generation. We HAVE to have compelling graphics to accompany our compelling content.

  4. Agree with you there Dean.

    If you’re going to spend time fiddling with images, spend time:

    adjusting colours,
    removing unwanted items from the image
    and optimising.

  5. I like the water color effect :)

  6. What program did you use to get that watercolour effect? I really like it.