Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Redland Baptist Redux – part Deux

It’s always a good sign when software reviews and site critiques generally have to do with the finer details of navigation and aesthetics as opposed a situation where the consensus of opinion is “rm -rf * public_html.”

Thank you so much for your constructive criticisms and suggestions. Based upon your opinions and observations, here are some of the modifications I made:

  • Boyink said it best when he wrote “Something bugs me with the Gospel.com scripture snippets … I’m always looking for a clue that I arrived at the page I wanted. Without a big ‘ole honking page title I had to let my eyes wander around a bit before confirming I was in the right spot …” He later elaborated in a private email that he felt the page should be where the Scripture was. So I flipped them. Funny thing is, I started this way back in February but couldn’t figure out how to get the Scripture up into the banner/header. Using the keywords field in MovableType with a little PHP and the problem was solved about 2 hours ago.
  • Tim Bednar thought it confusing of me to have a page entitled with the same name as the category, even though it showed up as “Overview” on the left side navigation and breadcrumb. Again, employing a bit of PHP, I used John Hawbaker’s idea of throwing the category name in front of the title “Overview” so Boyink doesn’t feel lost!-)
  • Sean at Blogos pointed out a broken link that was actually a faulty mtmacro I had coded.
  • An Poor Richard got wacked by a JS error I created because I can’t get my “bookMarkThisSite” function to run. Which bugs me because I’ve written that hack at least a bazillion times!-) That said, did some keen proof reading catching a typo deep within the front page content. Good eyes!
  • Finally, b2b guru Dave marketeered a much better name for my “free love page” … which is now entitled “Roadmap to Love.

As I said, some good comments that I think will make the site easier to navigate. Now for some issues still on my to-do list:

  • …the banner does not contain a link to home.” Thanks Troy. Must be a great minds thing. Vincent Flanders made the same observation in a private email. I’ll depend on the “home” link on the breadcrumb bar until I can figure out the best way to implement this.
  • Boyink points out that “The ‘recommend this page’ pop up didn’t look visually related to the site.” Yeah, I know. Gimme a week or three and bug me if I don’t.
  • b2b genius Daveopines “Maybe ‘Roadmap to Love’ to go along with the images. I know you cheated by copying this content, but as a visitor, I’d look at a page like this as a way to define your church’s personality. They might be thinking “How is this church going to judge my beliefs and values?” ” … yup. This is something I need to swing back on with Chuck Holton, who is a far better writer than me (btw, I recommend his latest book!-).
  • Graphics guru Tim Bednar also didn’t like many of the photos. Yeah, I know. As better ones come along, I’ll change them. Three of the things I’m trying to avoid are
    • using actual church members
    • violating copyrights
    • long load times (the aliasing issue)

    In other words, I made some place-holder compromises in order to get the site up and running. But hey, if you’ve got some images you want to share …

Which brings me to things I think I’m going to leave as-is for now. Here they are. Not so much defenses but rather trade-offs with some of the realities I’m dealing with.

  • Both Jeff Wilkinson and Richard commented that they didn’t find the site’s Terms of Use very grace-driven. No, it’s not. Don’t forget, I live hear near D.C. A very litigious area with alot of lawyers on the loose. Moreover, we have in the past had to use the Terms of Use to fend off some nere-do-wells. I can’t give details, but trust me, not everyone loves Jesus or the Church.

    That said, what we’ve posted is actually very common web site legalese that I discussed in some detail back in January of this past year … though I’m not a lawyer, so you might want to get a professional’s opinion on this last set of points.

  • Dave asksCan I assume that member services will be part of phase 2? A specific link or section for first-time visitors would be great, too.. I think the most you’ll get perhaps is a set of links on the home page for “First Time Visitors.” There’s something I don’t like about the Cedar Ridge approach … it’s only because I attended some worship services at Brian Mclaren’s house (down the street, back in the late 70′s when his dad ran it) that I know they’re not saying bad things us unwashed behind our backs!-)

    Instead, if we have an “intranet” type of mechanism for internal workings, then we’ll keep that out of view from the main page. Why tell a visitor it is there if they’re not invited? And I think I can at least get members to remember to use a subdomain like “secrets_of_the_deacons.redlandbaptist.org” for internal uses.

  • Tim Bednar doesn’t like the Drop-down menus. Richard can’t get’m to work on IE5 for the Mac. Nor can Sparticus on Opera 7! Keep in mind, I surveyed members, and some potential members (people at work, people down the street). Most liked them. Again, I think this is a regional preference. It is for similar reasons I think just about all my users logs show 97% of the visits coming from PC’s since 1997. And of that 3%, would you believe 2% are Netscrape 4.n users?

Again, many, many thanks for all your input. As you can see, unless I’ve got specific user-related reasons, for the most part, I took your advice and employed your suggestions. Next week, I’ll have the sermons blog online. Wait till you see what Perl madness conspired there to help me get Redland’s most popular pages into MovableType.

Meanwhile, if you see anything else, or want to discuss anything I said above … leave a comment. We all learn when you do!-)

3 Comments

  1. About the javascript menu bar.
    I found that in Opera you can turn on the javascript console when errors come up, so here’s what it throws up…

    Timeout thread: delay 60 ms
    Error:
    name: TypeError
    message: Statement on line 37: Value to be enumerated by ‘for…in’ is null or undefined and not convertible to Object: this.a_forms
    Backtrace:
    Line 37 of linked script http://www.redlandbaptist.org/special/includes/menu.opr.js
    for (i in this.a_forms)
    Line 115 of linked script http://www.redlandbaptist.org/special/includes/menu.opr.js
    this.container.selectsHide();
    In unknown script
    menus["0"].items[26].expand();

    Timeout thread: delay 300 ms
    Error:
    name: TypeError
    message: Statement on line 37: Value to be enumerated by ‘for…in’ is null or undefined and not convertible to Object: this.a_forms
    Backtrace:
    Line 37 of linked script http://www.redlandbaptist.org/special/includes/menu.opr.js
    for (i in this.a_forms)
    Line 171 of linked script http://www.redlandbaptist.org/special/includes/menu.js
    this.selectsHide(true);
    In unknown script
    menus["0"].hide();

    I use a similar sort of menu device on my site from http://www.milonic.co.uk/menu/ which so far has yet to fail in any browser, might be an alternative

  2. Some great suggestions there!

    As far as stock photography goes, check out:

    http://www.intuitivmedia.net/
    http://www.sxc.hu

    Both provide free images for nonprofit organizations. There’s some really nice photos there.

  3. Out of curiosity, why are you trying to *avoid* using photos of actual church members?

    I generally *prefer* photos of members, rather than some probably-very-attractive stock photo people.

    IMO, that makes it more real, most honest, and the members generally like to see themselves on the site. (though they are sometimes surprised)

    (I *do* try not to use photos that are unflattering and I’d take any down immediately upon request of course.)

    So, your thoughts?