Every now and then you may have seen me use of the term “Axiomatic Semantics” while discussing programming related issues. For those of you who haven’t been blessed with a course in systems design or discrete mathematics, I need to apologize. I really shouldn’t use such high-end industry specific terms without breaking it down for you in down-to-Earth terms. For instance, “Axiomatic Semantics” is merely geek speak for a process, specifically a process where a known output always results from a specific and known input.
Example 1 :
- If an input equal ‘x’ then the output will equal ‘y’
Hmmm, still to esoteric, so let’s try this:
- If you Spam me with a sucky church or para-church website, then I will use it as a good example of bad web design.
Back in September of 2003, I received some Spam from Larry Taylor Ministries which read.
… Just want you to know I would love to come to your church for a revival meeting. Look at my website.
To which I replied:
I mean, why would we want to invite someone to preach the Gospel of
Peace when you’re engaging in an act of [bandwidth] theft?
Larry Taylor responded personally that he couldn’t find my email address but would remove it if I sent it to him. I issued a response where I thought it was clear that he should never send an email to anyone at RedlandBaptist.org again unless he wanted me to complain to his upstream provider. So imagine my surprise when he spammed me again this past April … then again last week using a tease technique often used by purveyors of ‘pr0n.’
body: So am I, Give me a click.
Considering the fact that I’m still receiving unsolicited commercial email after having already complained directly and upstream, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the best way to get old Larry Boy to quit spamming meis to give him what he wants, some website traffic. And why not? The Larry Taylor Ministries web site is after all a very good example of how NOT to design a personal ministry website.
The first thing this website needs is a DOCTYPE. Now for those of you who aren’t fluent in HTML, a DOCTYPE declaration lets browsers and validators know which version of HTML you are using and whether or not you’re document is published in English, Esperanto or some other foreign tongue.
Some other reasons the Larry Taylor doesn’t validate is because:
- <IMG> tags that do not include ALTernate text;
- unordered list item tags (<LI>) are rendered without the encapsulating <UL> parent;
- improper use of the deprecated <FONT> tag, where font family name are placed are outside of the parenthesis of the FACE argument;
- <TABLE> tags that include a HEIGHT argument (let the reader understand).
In other words, here we have a website in which the browser layout cannot be guaranteed. Moreover, this site is likely to index poorly among various search engines because the language isn’t defined, and there is no way for a parser to tell where some HTML tags begin and compelling content ends.
Nothing says cheap to a congregation than a pastor on a polyester leisure suit. Similarly, nothing conveys the message of low-rent like kitschy animate gifs and contrived backgrounds, both of which can be found on Rev. Taylor’s site.
One such gimmick that amused me was an animated envelope used as a metaphor for email. So effective is it that the webmaster was compelled to put a text hyperlink for “email” under it.
A bit further down I found pulsating crosses with hearts placed on the website because they’re relevant to …I dunno … perhaps to distract me from fishy “IXOYE” background that it makes any text not offset by a white background almost impossible to read?
Speaking of impossible to read text, for some reason the webmaster uses for plain text the same purple color used to indicate a visited hyperlink … when black would have made the text far more readable against the over-active background image, and wouldn’t confuse visitors used to industry standard visual clues.
Feeling Bloated and Lost:
The LT homepage takes approximately 25.25 seconds for someone using a 56kb dial-up line, which I suspect for Mr. Taylor’s, is about 15 seconds too long for the majority if his clientele. Part of this has to do with the display of large images of himself, then again of himself and his wife. One image would suffice, especially if it were color optimized better. Moreover, all the images need ALTernate text if Rev.Taylor wants this site accessible to individuals with visual disabilities and/or a text-only browser.
Another way to put this page on a diet is break out the content over a series of sub pages, of which there are already some, but they are hard to find because the site menu is in effect ‘hidden under a basket’ woven out of a long list of reciprocal links and a webring menu.
Since the webring requires Larry Boy to consume valuable bottom space with someone else’s menu, I would suggest putting sub page links along the top. I would also move all the “Larry’s Links” to a separate page. The same goes for the list of the Rev. Taylor’s upcoming engagements – though it might be beneficial to have the very next engagement on the front page with a hyperlink to the entire schedule.
The fact that Larry is often on the road and since I want him to stop spamming, I think the best solution for him would be to establish a weblog equipped with a a double-opt-in listserv and/or email notification.
This way he can update his page as to his latest and greatest achievements and keep ministry affiliates informed, while avoiding any legal and/or ISP entanglements by transmitting email to only those who’ve requested it.
Moreover, since most blogging software comes equipped with valid XHTML, CSS-driven templates, Larry would have a site that indexes better on search engines provided he keeps it current with compelling content.
Dear Larry Taylor:
I suspect at some point someone is going to point you my review of your website to you. I’m writing to you (again) in Christian love. We are commanded by Scripture to obey local authorities. Unsolicited commercial email, regardless of how the email address is obtained, is against the law in many U.S. States and municipalities. There are those who also hold the opinion that Spam is a form of theft.
Do yourself and your ministry a favor, take heed of the free technical advice I’m offering above … and the advice in the form of comments below and Spam no more. Trust me, God will honor such commitments to integrity and His Word.