It’s technoBlog Thursday and I’ve got a full schedule. That said, I’m enjoying visits from quite a few new visitors. So I thought maybe it’d be useful to offer a church web site critique that also reviewed some of the major points I’ve covered in the past.
Point 1 – remember is that my mission here is to “Build the Body of Christ by Helping Others Build Better Web Sites.” So when I critique a site, please do not take it as an attack on one’s faith or devotion to God. Do not take it as an attack on a particular church or person. It is merely offered as constructive criticism on this public forum so all of us, including myself, can benefit from the example. Or as it says in Proverbs 19:25b “… a sensible person learns by being corrected.”
So with all that said and done, let us take a look at the Brotherhood Freewill Baptist Church in Glasgow, KY.
Point 2 – Get Real! That is, if you want seekers to take you seriously, you need to spend just a few dollars on a domain name, and just a few more on a web host. I mean, what does it say about your church when as soon as they load your page you are confronted with pop-up ads for gambling casinos or an R-Rated film? And how well will you sleep at night realizing that your data is not your own, or that it’s not very recoverable? Free web hosts like Tripod are great when you’re just learning how to get things done, “But solid food is for the mature …”
Point 3 – ‘Pelase’ Proof Read – Check out your <title> tag. What does this say to search engines and seekers? Actually, instead of correcting the spelling, why not replace it with text that is meaningful to search engines and seekers, such as the name and location of the church? You’ll get more hits, and from that, more visitors.
Point 4 – Optimal Image Sizes – I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but I know I said it earlier this week. The <img> tag does not, I repeat, DOES NOT, physically reduce the size of an image. Which is why P1010009.JPG, the one of the church on the front page without the benefit of an “alt” argument description, adds 349842 bytes to your web page! Considering that the entire page should be under 50k, this picture is a killer for seekers with dial-up connections. It wasn’t so fast on my DSL either. You need to physically reduce the image with a graphics editing application. You may also want to use the same application to brighten up the picture – it looks very couldy and somewhat dreary. Yet another reason buildings don’t make for good front page content. Too impersonal.
Point 5 – Evil Marquee Tag – Scrolling Banners and other similar gizmotchies aren’t slick, nor do they bring anything to anyone’s attention. They merely take your valuable and compelling content and make then unreadable, unsearchable and often unusable.
Point 6 – Above the Fold – Just like a newspaper, position the killer content of your frontpage in such a way that one does not have to scroll down to see it. “He will lift your heart” is a great slogan, but that and the waterfalls, along with the huge name of the church at the top squeeze out everything else. Less header, more of the good stuff.
Point 7 – Content is King – and this page has content. That’s what REALLY bothers me about this site. They’ve got tons of compelling content, but the problems I stated above, along with a few minor ones I didn’t, the web servanthas effectively hide this church’s light under a basket. And its a crying shame because they’ve got sermons, photos, schedules, directions, sections for various ministries. Its all there and organized. But because of all the pop-ups, the long load times and the oversized header, it is doubtful anyone will find it other than existing members using a Mozilla-based browser with the ad-blocking turned on and the graphics turned off. Considering a majority of people browse with the Microsoft product, I’d suggest the following healing steps.
- Get a real domain and a real web host
- Physically reduce the size of all the images
- Reduce the header heights
- Fix the <title> tag
First Impessions count for everything in this arena. Make sure your’s is one that’s memorable for a whole variety of good things.