Heal Your Church WebSite


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

A call to bug me …

First, let me thank all of you who have submitted your sites for review. First for your teachable spirit, second for your patience. I’ve been remiss in getting around to many of your sites. I’ve seen them. I’ve got ideas for articles … but in some cases, by the time I get there, things have changed. So, if I’ve neglected to get around to your site, I’m asking that you email me and bug me again. If you haven’t emailed me — don’t be shy. As I tell everyone, I’m much nicer to sites that submit than those I find by accident.

That said — I’m especially interested in those of you who have created church web sites that employ the following techniques or technologies (in order of preference):

  1. all things to all browsers – written in such a way so it is friendly to a wide variety of browsers
  2. tableless layout – sites that implements CSS with <div>, <p> and/or <span> tags instead of <table>s
  3. embedded Flash – sites that employ flash for menus, news tickers and/or other embedded objects
  4. javascript generated – sites that use javascript to generate content on the fly

Even if you don’t use any of the above, I’d still encourage you to contact me. Now that I’m just about done whipping the RBC site into shape, I’ll have more time to sharpen iron with iron.

18 Comments

  1. Can’t be bothered to open outlook, so if you want to have a look over at http://www.kilnhurst-st-thomas.org.uk/
    It hasn’t been updated this week because it’s windows server (erks) which doesn’t have perl on (erks!) or even php (erks!!!) so I have no cms on and the ftp account was playing up when I tried to update on sunday (I’d like to point out I didn’t purchase the hosting).
    It’s a work in progress, but I think I’ll stop with the excuses now.

  2. OK Dean – so review us already!

  3. My church http://www.gbcstl.com/ is XHTML & CSS2 tableless. We are going to be adding two blog type column soon and a dynamic listing of events as well as a dynamic listing of missionaries and their needs, so look for those in the coming weeks.

  4. http://bluer.org/

    Fulfills #1, #3 coming soon, #4… well PHP does all that work currently.

  5. http://pvcc.cbcregina.ca this site incorporates tables but to the aid of server side scripting. I once started a layout with frames, but I found that tables work a lot better. What exactly is seen to be so wrong with using tables?

  6. Tables shouldn’t be used for positioning things because tables weren’t meant for positioning things. Div tags and span tags are. By using div’s and spans you make the web a more accessible place that’s easier to understand and will stand the test of time much longer.
    But I am confused about one thing, if a table is used correctly (ie to display a table of data) is this still wrong?

  7. Tables shouldn’t be used for positioning things because tables weren’t meant for positioning things. Div tags and span tags are. By using div’s and spans you make the web a more accessible place that’s easier to understand and will stand the test of time much longer.
    But I am confused about one thing, if a table is used correctly (ie to display a table of data) is this still wrong?

  8. Tables shouldn’t be used for positioning things because tables weren’t meant for positioning things. Div tags and span tags are. By using div’s and spans you make the web a more accessible place that’s easier to understand and will stand the test of time much longer.
    But I am confused about one thing, if a table is used correctly (ie to display a table of data) is this still wrong?

  9. I built Community Covenant Church to work with all browsers and run tableless. It runs great and is very dinamic use of php and css working together.
    Anyone Please review me. I love comments. It makes me code better.
    I based this website off the concept of bloxsom. All the content is in a data folder and the menu is created from the data :-)

    http://www.ccc-stl.org is the new site.
    http://www.covenantchurchstl.org/ is the old site.
    http://www.ccc-stl.org/old is the original

  10. Oops I apologise for all three comments above, my internet went funny and nothing was working. I blame microsoft.

  11. I am using a content managment system in Perl and server side includes, a package thing from Interactive Tools. We also have a calendaring system, a discussion forum, and several Flash goodies.

    I ain’t a techie. I use tables. They work. The content management tool allows multiple people to create and edit content using only a browser, including formatting stuff, uploading and placing photos, etc. Our church members and friends aren’t techies either. But we love the web. We are using the web.

    http://www.dayspringfellowshipnc.org/

  12. There’s a lot of emnity against tables in todays “standards” evangelism. In an effort to keep people from using tables as a layout method, the real purpose for tables was lost. Tables are a valid and useful set of html tags that display tabular data very well.

    The reason why tables aren’t good for layout is because they contribute to bloated markup, make it difficult for the handicapped who may use screen readers, and prevent you from marking up your data is a semantically meaningful way. Tables demand that you put your data into the HTML page is a way that isn’t very meaningful in the coded page. And it requires a lot of tables to make a proper layout.

    CSS on the other hand is much simpler. By removing the presentation layer from the markup, your HTML/XHTML code contains just the data. This level of abstraction allows you to present it in a large number of ways without having to duplicate the data. This is important because by keeping only one set of data you simpliy data maintenance and upkeep, which should increase the accuracy of you data over time. Also, it allows you to style the data for a wide variety of devices and applications such as screen readers, pda’s and cell phones.

    And lets not forget the ease of maintenance involved in avoiding table based layout using depricated font tags for presentation. walljm.com is roughly a 1500+ page site. I manage the entire site from one style sheet for web and one style sheet for print. If I want to make a site wide change to say the border around my main content area, I make a small edit to my style sheet and that’s it. When this kind of design philosophy is combined with server side scripting and a dynamic CMS such as Movable Type, you have the ability to manage large amounts of data fairly easily. Walljm.com is composed of about 20 actual dynamic pages, so major structural changes only effect those.

    Having said that, you should remember this when designing. Your code should meet the needs of your problem. If you need to use tables then use tables. There are still occasions when limited use of tables is beneficial. The use of tables for the display of tabular data is encouraged, as that was the intent of the tags anyway. But as you design, design with the future in mind. Keeping your presentation seperate from your data is smart, allows a great deal of flexibilty in meeting the demands of a divers application set, and helps you be foreward compatible.

  13. I agree with Jason, the data should be kept seprerate from the presentation.
    Another great tip is to disable your css on your website for a moment. Can you read the site?
    Is your information in a logical order.
    another bonus tip is “does your css do too much”
    Css can become overly compicated and take away time from your developing of other parts of the website. Make it simple and don’t forget it’ true purpose.

  14. Check out http://www.citylifechurch.net for a dynamically generated church web site. All the articles, forums, calendar events, user accounts and images are controlled online through a content management system.

    Plenty of layout tables though … don’t know how we’d manage without them.

  15. Your “send me some email” link doesn’t seem to like Mozilla Thunderbird. That or it’s something on my end. At any rate, my church’s website is http://www.cchowe.com I did not, in any way, have anything to do with the construction of this site, with the exception of having created the logo with the building and the name at the top center of the main page. (Pre-mouseover) It’s a fairly long story, but I was originally supposed to have done this page, and blew my opportunity. I know and could explain the long list of problems with the site, but I’d like an unbiased third party opinion to direct my pastor to when I ask for another shot, so to speak. I really respect what you do and I’d appreciate it if you could review this site. Thanks,
    -DR