Heal Your Church WebSite

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

Purpose Driven Advertisements

The word from Jakob Nielsen this week is on “Making Web Advertisements Work (Alertbox May 2003).” In summary, he asserts:

Web users are highly goal-driven, and ads that interfere with their goals will be ignored. To succeed, ads must work with the medium, as well as with the user’s aims and mindset.

There are many reasons why advertisements don’t work well on the Web, but it is most unsettling when an ad actually portrays something relevant to users and still fails. Why would this occur? Well, to start, we must consider why text ads work so well on search engines.
Each user has a goal — perhaps it is to learn about digital cameras, perhaps to purchase a book. In either case, users’ attention is focused on whatever gets them to their goal; they ignore everything else. When users enter search queries, the targeted ads that the engine returns relate directly to what users are after. Hence, they look at and follow the ads. Indeed, such advertisements probably have an advantage over the plain search results because they show both that the advertiser is competent and has a direct interest in serving consumers.

Okay, so what does this mean for the webmaster of a church or charity web site? Well, hopefully you’re not running advertisements on your page … or are you? Check out the comment someone left last week regarding my June 20, 2002 review of Ocean State Baptist Church:

does somebody want to go into a little bit more depth about Ocean State Baptist and their website. I find the website extremely functional and it sounds to me like your just hateing on the church.

Once again, we run into someone who mistakes constructive criticism of the web design as a personal attack on the church. Of course I do no such thing in the article.

What I do suggest is that just as flashing banner ads are annoying and pop-up ads are the spawn of satan, so too are Flash-based “splash pages” that deny your purpose-driven visitors from reaching their goals. In the case of Ocean State Baptist Church, one is compelled to a “maybe its cool once” ballet of churchy-terms that have little relevance to an individual seeking the location, nor a search engine indexing the Church’s personality and purpose.

Remember, the Internet is not TV, it is not Film, it is a media entity all unto itself where content is king, and simple, [human] scannable, well-organized text content gives users what they want without having to wait for it.


  1. Good to see you back on church web stuff, Dean. I was worried last week that you’d become a total tech blog, and left us churches behind. :)

    How about a new review or two?

  2. I know he has some candidates for healing lined up.

  3. Are you sure that all the web is about “simple, [human] scannable, well-organized text content”? It’s a big web. Real big, and not all sites have as their intent the desire to convey information like a blog. There’s room for flash presentations… even splash pages. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t make the mistake of forcing everyones message into your medium.

    Taking that into consideration, a lot of people make the same mistake, only from the other side, and do exactly what you were talking about. In both cases, the real problem is that a medium must be chosen based on the message, not the other way around. If a flash presentation sends the message you want, then that is what you should use.

  4. And then you’ve got the issue of “does the flash even have any design element in common with the rest of the site”? and your answer would be quite clearly in the OSBC site…”no.”

    I was going to put up some posts about the Text-ads thing that Nielsen had last week, and then I read this weeks alertbox. There were some papers which also reported the “rise” of the text ad and how advertising on the net is back again. apparently.