Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Mountain View Lutheran Church of Apache Junction AZ

Where do I begin with this site review? While the website for the ‘Mountain View Lutheran Church of Apache Junciton AZ‘ isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, it does manage to win the distinctive honor of containing just about every ‘sinful‘ element imaginable. It certainly is the type is site I have in mind when I refer to the Body online as ‘a great cloud of witlessness.

Let’s start off at the top … note my spelling of ‘Junciton‘ above, it is a cut-n-paste directly from the <title> tag of the site. Moving on to the visual elements, we begin with an advertisement for their free hosting company followed by a banner full of Google ads, one, which on my initial viewing, randomly included “Forclosure Listings.” A topic I’m sure every church wants to have associated with its name.

Directly below the ads is an evil scrolling marquee stating the obvious with a “welcome to” message. Fortunately, this only annoys MSIE users. Unfortunately, other elements of the page caused my Mozilla/FireFox browser to crash. Perhaps it is the use of 63 consecutive &nbsp; characters on line 116 of the underlying HTML used to ‘position‘ the John 3:16 image?

Below the less-than-readable right-to-left scrolling text, a 10kb, 638×173 that is “reduced” in layout only with the <img&gt tag arguments of width=”184″ height=”24″. A minor transgression when you consider the full-bodied 57kb, 400×409 “seal” image that again is reduced in “vision only” with the height and width arguments of the <img> tag.

This practice of bandwidth death by image bloat occurs several more times as it is clear that the webmaster here isn’t familiar with Father Flander’s famous sermon of July 13, 2003 where he flogs the faithful with:

‘Just because Jesus miraculously turned water into wine doesn’t mean he can miraculously turn your 1280- x 1024-pixel image whose file size is 1.8Mb into an image whose file size is only 74Kb just because you changed the WIDTH= and HEIGHT= attributes to WIDTH=”420″ and HEIGHT=”336″.’

Below the fold‘ we finally see some text, all navy blue text against a not-so-dark cadet blue background. All bold with emphasized text underlined … as if it were a hyperlink, but isn’t.

To the right of a warning about the green and yellow dumpster (on the front page), some animated gifs. Directly below the kitschy animated email/mailbox .gif is a java applet offering a menu that could be done in a fraction of the bandwidth and would be far more search-engine friendly if rendered using text and CSS.

Each of the menu links throws open a new window … thus breaking the back-button ability of the user.

Much of the same occurs with the subpages with regards to text, fonts, colors and images. This is only worsened by the fact that none of the subpages I visited offered any sort of navigation back to the homepage. However, some subpages managed to contain a single hyperlink to a third level of data abstraction.

So how would I heal this site in 10 minutes?

rm -rf *.*

Or in MS-DOS parlance:

del /F /S /Q *.*

I know I’m being a bit less generous and a bit more caustic than usual. Maybe I’m grumpy from having to go back to work after visiting Jordan. Perhaps it’s the server move, but pages such as the homepage for the Mountain View Lutheran Church of Apache Junciton AZ truly irritate me. Perhaps because to me, they become little more than self parodies of what not to do.

Perhaps I’m bothered by the fact that we as a Body don’t bother to read the instructions. For example, there are free style guides one can peruse online. There are inexpensive books on the topic. There are several examples of good sites, and free tools to help even the most novice webmaster create a competent site.

Perhaps what I need to do is to play the lottery. That way, when I win, I can quit my day job and spend a week healing sites such as these from the ground up.

18 Comments

  1. Good analysis. I agree with everything you said about that site.

  2. No comments about accessibility for a church with a ‘deaf ministry’?

  3. Man, that site is pretty terrible.

  4. Maybe worth sending your article to the webmaster of that site so they can have some constructive criticism.

    Quick look at the source shows it’s a Frontpage generated site which in and of itself probably says it all.

  5. “Junciton” sounds like those nifty Transformers from the movie. Y’know, the group led by the bot with Eric Idle’s voice.

    Oh, no, wait. That’s “junkion.”

    Darn. That would have been a much cooler church. And would have explained the website, too; tell me Junkions don’t build craptacular stuff.

  6. >> Quick look at the source shows it’s a Frontpage generated site which in and of itself probably says it all.

    HEY!!! [Grin]

    I can ignore good design with notepad.exe, too! It’ll just take fifty times as long! [grin]

    - Frank “FrontPage” Ramage [g]
    - burtonsvillebaptist.org

  7. You gotta love a site that prioritizes dumpster etiquette above irrelevancies such as service times, beliefs, and navigation. Kinda cute like a wet puppy.

  8. What’ll be funny is when Google ranks this critique higher than the actual church website.

    I think it’s important to not malign the people behind these sites, because they tend to be volunteers who are new to web design and pretty excited about it. I know I created some crappy websites for my church when I was a teenager, and people were thankful rather than critical. That was 1997. (I can’t find their site now; it doesn’t help to change domain names every other year).

    We do live in a different age now, though. For a church with a big budget to spend no serious effort on their site is to invite such criticism.

  9. Ah Dean, you do have your hands full, but, I bet I can match that site.

    My Church is holding a special session this week regarding their new site. The site here http://www.unitedchurchofcohoes.org/is the new site!

    The guy apparently didn’t pass it through the hands of reviewers first and the Church leaders are not happy. Part of me says he did his best and they didn’t give him much guidance so…

    However, it needs Healing in a bad way, so I will be scanning your site for all those great tips you have been passing along. And it apears he is hosting it on his home Cable Broadband acount, explains why it is down quite often.

    Thanks for them and keep up the good work.

  10. >> The guy apparently didn’t pass it through the hands of reviewers first and the Church leaders are not happy. Part of me says he did his best and they didn’t give him much guidance so…

    Perhaps you could relate the story back here (if appropriate) so others might learn… (or Dean could feature it).

  11. The spelling s[ch]tuff is what gets me. You’d think they could spell the name of their town correctly to make it easy for people to Mapblast their address.

    Then again, I’m a spelling nazi and spelling errors on any site make me twitch.

  12. I’d have to agree with Justin here, that’s a pretty good wrap up of a situation where professionalism/authenticity – yes I equate the two on the odd occaision – has been (I’m guessing only) sacrificed for cheap. It’s funny, I just realised that on Niphal(.com), we have stacks of awesome portfolio links, but quite a lot LESS in terms of quality church sites… I wonder why?

    Anyway I like this review although my question is this: how has it helped this church in question? (ie. have they been contacted? what are their thoughts?)

  13. Justin, Ants, I hear ya, but no thanks.

    One of the reasons I launched this site was because in the past, I had forwarded recommendations in private.

    Just about every time I did, I was excoriated, rebuked, laughed at, I even had my faith in Christ questioned.

    So I use such sites as an opportunity to teach those who want to be taught.

    If you want to forward my review to them, feel free. But I’m done contacting individuals who haven’t requested a review.

  14. Um, Yaak – if your church has a controversy you do not make it better by airing their dirty laundry in a public venue.

    Rich

    aisquith.org

  15. Oops I brokes it. You can delete these two posts if you want…

  16. I wish I’d read the part about crashing Firefox before I tried to click on the link… ouch.

  17. And perhaps it was the 31 instances of a Java applet (!) used for navigation which caused Firefox to crash. Yes, let me repeat that: 31 instances of a Java applet.

    ::mutters, grumbles:: Who at Microsoft thought that using a Java applet for rollovers was a good idea?