Heal Your Church WebSite

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

I’m too sexy for my site

I’m too sexy for my site too sexy for my site
My user’s gonna leave me

I’m too sexy to be searched too sexy to be browsed
So sexy it con-fu-ses me
And I’m too sexy for my code too sexy for my code

And I’m too sexy for you to browse
Too sexy for you to search
Note the way I’m disco dancing

With apologies to Right Said Fred, I was reminded of this one hit wonder last night after visiting the temporary website for the Grace Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Cleveland Ohio.

A bit too Slick

As far as “Under Construction” sites, this is by far the most clever and entertaining I’ve seen … it is also the most confusing.

When I type in the URL of a church website, or click on a hyperlink to a church website via a search engine, I want something that gives me a clear indication that I’m looking at a church website … not something that makes me stare in bewilderment and ask: “how the heck did I get to MapQuest?

A bit more Modest

First, kudos to the people at Grace C&MA for getting permission from MapQuest to use their logo. Second, just so long as the new church website actually launches on July 11, I think this is a fun way to generate some short-term excitement

That said, I would have done a couple of things a bit differently:
Click here to see a 64kb Screen Capture of the frontpage for the Grace Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of Cleveland Ohio

  1. I would have tried to create a banner/logo similar to MapQuest’s, only it would read “Grace C&MA” so users quickly realize this is a spoof and that they didn’t enter the wrong URL. I’d also make it a clickable means of getting back to the home page;
  2. I would add some temporary content under the navigation bubbles to the right of the banner/logo. They are after all yummy little donuts inviting you to bite into more information … don’t antagonize and confuse the user by putting a plastic treat next to their coffee;
  3. Thank you to the Grace C&MA webmasters for providing an alternative graphic for the Flash-impaired. Now please have it read that the new site will appear on July 11th just as the Flash animation does. Oh, and add some ALTernate text to the alternate image while you’re at it;
  4. Change ‘Find It’ to ‘Visit 1 of our 2 Locations’. Just like the rest of this site, don’t make the user have to think.

One other thing that I’d put under the “it might be nice” category is a link to a double opt-in listserv that would email people once the new site is online. I classify this as a “maybe” because I’m not certain it would generate enough responses to warrant the effort.

Listserv aside, I am certain that with the four changes enumerated above, the Grace C&MA church website could continue to use this fun little place holder without confusing first time visitors. I suspect that they might also benefit from a slightly better search engine rankings via the compelling content added under the navigation bubbles.

How about you guys and gals? What are you thoughts on this bit-too-clever “Under Construction” interface?


  1. Cute concept, it gave me a few chuckles, but I could see it being totally confusing for someone who isn’t so net saavy. Agree with you 100% on this one MeanDean.

  2. Did Mapquest really give them permission to use the logo? I have a hard time believing that. If they didn’t get permission there are some real ethical questions that must be asked.

  3. It sucks. It’s worse than spinning crosses and dancing Jesus. Unlike Harold, I don’t have a hard time believing they got permission to use the logo (and the entire brand image). I have an impossible time believing it. They should spend their time developing their own web brand, not re-using (stealing) someone else’s.

  4. I’m still a fan of no under construction pages. I think they make people not want to come to the site when it is complete. I would much prefer a one page site with a general mission statement and a picture, than a well designed, no content, “broken” links site. I think that if the animation was replaced with a static image and the header removed for the church’s own title, that this would be a stellar first start.

  5. That site is really something else… I’m interested in seeing their final version!

    (Usability aside, they must have a pretty talented web designer.)

  6. I admit I did a “double take” and had to check the URL to make sure I hadn’t actually gone to MapQuest. I only wish I was that clever when I put up our ““under construction” page last night.

    MeanDean – how do you come across these church sites?

  7. Now I think I know why they call it apologetics! (you keep quoting and apologizing!) Very worth while discussions.

    Yeah, that site needs some serious work to be less confusing and more inviting. Hopefully they read your suggestions just as we do ;]

  8. Very clever. While I agree with the “no under construction sites” philosophy, I can also appreciate the thought, planning and work that went into it. It succeeds in making me want to revisit later on… much more so than, say, a nearly static site done in plain blue with boring white text.
    Usability ala Nielsen is critically important, but there are so many boring sites out there that I can easily forgive this one.

  9. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the comments Dean, as the designer for the site I appreciate the insight! Looking toward those comments, I have just a couple of responses:

    The temporary site launch coincided with a postcard handout for church attendees to handout to friends and family to check out the church. This all coincided with our upcoming series “Mapquest: God’s Directions for finding your Way” Maybe this helps to enlighten the reasoning behind the design. I understand to the random visitor this would be confusing; however, it will not be our permanent presence, it is a temporary site. With that in mind, we did not attempt to make a site deep enough to address everyone. Rather to maintain our presence, give contact info, and support the postcards that were sent.

    The “Navigation Bubbles” were a much desired feature, however we are pressed for the completion of our new site, so it was a dropped feature for timeliness.

    The alternate graphic containing the date, and the alternate text was an oversight on my part. I will take care of those items in short order.

    The text “Find It” is there in collaboration with Mapquest’s “Find It” page, which is why it is phrased that way. I believe the phrase “One Church, Two Campuses” right below the “Find It” graphic ahould satisfy the desire for different phrasing.

    The mention of the listserv was considered, but we are not technically ready for handling a listserv… It is currently planned for a future phase of our website development.

    And one personal address to Bill and Harold:
    We did obtain permission through mapquest’s corporate office for the use of the Name, Logo, and design elements for both our website and print advertisement.

    Again thanks for the comments,