Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve always loved Monty Python. I recall back in the early 70′s my brothers and I sitting in the basement snickering as the local PBS station would air the hilarious ‘Flying Circus.’ What was equally amusing was the time my father came down stairs to see what all the laughter was about, watched a show with us for about five minutes, then left shaking his head and wondering what all the cackling was about.
Then came the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Oh my stinking goodness. There are of course several scenes I can quote from memory. One being that hilarious scene at the troll bridge where King Arthur turns the tables on the evil bridge keeper when the King of the Brits responds to the question “What … is the airspeed of an unladen swallow?” with “African or European?” The demise of the old troll is made all the more hilarious as just prior to this, Galahad is tossed into the abyss under the expanse when he’s unable to correctly answer the keeper’s question “What is your favorite color?”
We all think this is funny because it’s so absurdly silly. I mean, this could never happen in real life, or could it? Imagine a situation where instead of having cheerful greeters meet you on Sunday morning, the doors of the church are guarded by deacons who will not let you pass until you answer four obvious questions. Pretty absurd and silly isn’t it?
Aside from abusing the bandwidth of dial-up users, this page will not index well with search engines because the indescript text is rendered as graphic … and a background graphic at that. Yes, it has meta-tags, but just as faith without works is dead, so too are meta-tags without related text in the body of the page.
So how would I heal this para-church website? First, I’d consider whether or not using Flash buys me anything. For example, if I’ve got a clip of an interview, an interactive tutorial, or something else that can’t be simply rendered as easy to read and search text, then I would use Flash’s Auto Detection features to determine whether or not the user’s browser is equipped with the Macromedia plug-in.
And while there are tools to determine the country of origin of the user, it may not necessary in this case. Instead, because the Spanish and English versions are different, why not buy a couple of international domains, such as joycemeyer.es and perhaps joycemayer.mx? This way, those visiting .org go to the English page, those using .es and .mx go to the page en Español. Both pages offer a way of getting to the other.
With these technical issues aside, I would then kill-off the splash page. Offering user settings is not a bad thing, but its not compelling homepage content. Instead, just go to the page default ministries page that includes lots of text about offers, upcoming events and such so first time visitors know what the site offers, and search engines can better index the content.
That and I’d fix some of the broken image problems by using mod_rewrite to automagically redirect references from litw.org to joycemeyer.org. Well, that and the entire ‘kitschy‘ TBN look-n-feel issue, but then again, I’m an Os Guinness type-o-guy.