Heal Your Church WebSite


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

the Calvary Temple Worship Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana

My DSL service is pretty good, and late at night, very fast. I’m up around 715 kbits/sec., which translates to downloading 1mb of data in about 11.7 seconds. Which is why I was shocked that it took around 7 seconds for me to load the web page for The Calvary Temple Worship Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Okay, sure, so they have a 47,000 square foot, 2,200 seat worship center. But just because you’ve got a big honking church doesn’t mean you should have a big honking front page. In other words, just because you can say everything about your church on the front page, doesn’t mean you should.

Truly I say unto you, less is more.

Mount Montage

Let’s start with the montage on the front page, the 81k front page. I understand that they’re trying to leverage the picture is worth 1000 words adage, but there are more bandwidth friendly ways of communicating this. For example, why not install any one of several open source photo gallery applications with a conspicuous set of links to it.

Then to communicate the varieties of people served, replace the 81k montage – along with the girthy plus 43.5k picture below the fold, with a simple string of four 100×100 images along the top left of the masthead? Here’s something I whipped together in about 5 minutes:
Draft of a Simpler Masthead Idea

Or at least reduce the montage to the building, one shot of the senior lady on the montage, and perhaps some kids having fun? It could even be on the background of the interior of the worship center during a service. For example, something I’ve been toying with for the Redland redesign:
draft Redland montage/masthead - only 8.5k

Menu Madness

Another big bandwidth saver would be to jettison the graphic images used on the left column menu. Aside from the fact that using JPG for text/line-art pushed the individual menu items somewhere between 1.7 and 2.0k each, there are 29 such items — 1.85 x 29 = 53.65k of images that needs to be loaded on a page that is already 81+43.5 = 124.5k large, pushing the total image weight of almost 222k! Believe me when I tell you, that’s enough to scare away even the most devout dial-up user.

Here is how I would heal this. First, I would create a top level of categories, each one level of sub categories. For example, “About Us” would encapsulate “Pastors/Directors”, “Technical Director”, “What we believe”, “Contact Us.” Some other top-level categories that would help simplify the front-page overload might be “Ministries” and “Related Sites.” Most people who use the Internet these days are smart enough to know how to dig down into well-defined and well-documented site hierarchies, provided they’re not too deep.

Then again, I personally would ditch the graphic menu links altogether for text links. Perhaps implementing some CSS to give newer browsers a nice rollover effect.

Site maps and Search engines help any place where navigation fails.

Healing the Sub Pages

I took time to visit the sub pages. Here are some quick notes of things I’d address:

  • The masthead graphic is just too big at 31.25k. Especially when most of it is text.
  • boxes and table borders really interrupt the flow of how one reads. Consider using simpler means of separating text, such as paragraphs, tags <h1> through <h2> or sub pages when the information requires several page-downs of very small text
  • I found the Activities page a bit disorienting as it didn’t look and feel like the rest.
  • better check the background on that MidAmerica Masters Commission on computers with greater than 600×400 screen resolution
  • the Seniors Ministry is another perfect place for a photo gallery
  • But I have to say the most irritating thing is the yellow text on the black background. Perhaps its just my personal taste, but such dark color combinations are usually associated with hackers and p0rn sites (so I’m told). I mean the entire personality of the sight is so heavy and goth-like, which I’ll bet the house is the exact the opposite of this particular church’s personality and purpose.

Again, we have lots of content, but just as it is clear this church ‘broke a vase‘ to create an incredible worship center, perhaps they need to do the same to create at least an attractive web site.

Since much of today’s review is subjective, what are your thoughts? As always, your comments are most welcome.

8 Comments

  1. It took me 28 secs on a 56k dialup line.

  2. Also, it would be quite easy to re-create the menu on the left with CSS and simple text, although it may not look exactly the same you could have something maybe even more professional and faster to load.

    The page itself is a large table, now I know that tables are still used and I think thye’re good, however CSS can position these things fairly easily. Tables take a lot longer to load (especially when every menu item is a separate cell).

    If the designer of the site learnt a few simple steps, then this site could be really really good. I’m sure they would have no trouble finding a good host who would provide something like PHP. Even the smallest bit of PHP (eg. Includes) can tighten up a site greatly. There’s a guy here in Sydney who would offer free hosting to this church if they approached him, although I think they probably get their own anyway.

    Small things lead to big changes.

  3. It took me about 6 seconds to get all the html on a dialup with Opera. It took another 4 minutes to get all the images. Time well spent I feel :S

  4. eek… i understand the hardships of creating church web sites… namely, there is not enough money to pay a staffer and our secretaries just can’t cut it as web designers. my suggestion is that this church pay a professional to design a shell and purchase a copy of macromedia contribute to make changes on it.

  5. eek… i understand the hardships of creating church web sites… namely, there is not enough money to pay a staffer and our secretaries just can’t cut it as web designers. my suggestion is that this church pay a professional to design a shell and purchase a copy of macromedia contribute to make changes on it.

  6. IMHO the navigation is the crime on this page, not the size of the files. Talk about hiding you light under a basket! Unfortunately, that takes more work and thinking than resizing images and creating CSS.

  7. This is true, and so are the many things pointed out, but how can one go about helping or advising a church such as this about their website? What would you say? I know what I might say but not what I would say.

  8. I also think this site needs some work. I am also sure that it is being taken care of