Jakob Nielsen, arguably the godfather of online usability, yesterday announced the “Top 10 Web Design Mistakes for 2003.” I don’t necessarily agree that all ten issues are the primary issues facing what I sometimes jokingly refer to as “the great cloud of witlessness that is the Church online“, but I do think each of items enumerated in the article deserve discussion. Below are issues #1 through #5, as they are practically applied those of us creating and maintaining church and/or charity websites.
“Many companies, particularly in the high tech industry, use vague or generic language to describe their purpose.”
We’ve discussed personality and purpose, often. I personally think the every element on the website should contribute to this message, otherwise it should be removed. That said, we can immediately apply this first point by taking a hard, cold, objective look at those ubiquitous mission statements that often wind up on the home pages or worse, the (unnecessary) splash pages of oh so many church web sites.
“Archives add substantial value to a site with very little extra effort … Changing the URL when archiving content causes linkrot.”
Not much to add to this point other than to direct you to two articles I’ve penned in the past that offer technical solutions to healing your church or charity website of linkrot.
- Never Delete a well indexed Link – how to use mod_rewrite to redirect old links (pages) to new
- Link Rot vs. mod_rewrite – round 1 – using RewriteCond and RewriteRule to redirect old domains to new
“Without dates on articles, press releases, and other content, users have no idea whether the information is current or obsolete”
We haven’t discussed this issue here, but perhaps we should. Especially those of us using content managlment and/or blogging systems to maintain our sites. Certainly, we should date events, programs, sermons and what-have-you. My question (heads-up, this means I’m asking YOU for comments) what about “About Us” or “Meet our Staff” type pages? Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea.
“… websites typically produce small images by simply scaling down bigger images. If an original photo has a lot of intricate detail, the thumbnail is often incomprehensible.”
They say a picture is worth 1000 words, so allow me to demonstrate what is meant by preserving context through “cropping”:
Which of the above thumbnails gives you a better visual clue of about the subject matter of the larger images behind the hyperlinks?
“The (IMAGE ALT) text should describe the image’s meaning for the interaction and what users need to know about the image to use the site most effectively. There is no need to describe irrelevant visual details.”
No argument here, though honestly, I still find most church websites are behind the curve when it comes to using the ALT attribute of their <IMG> tag, as I discussed back in April in my post entitled “A More Elite Image Rendering.”
It’s Christmas Eve, so if I don’t get around to points #6 through #10 until Friday, let me wish each and everyone of you a very blessed Christmas. You can make mine by discussing the above issues; as I treasure your input as one treasures Christmas cards from a good friend.