A church website that fails to convey the purpose and personality of the congregation and staff will also fail to bring new members into the door. One sure way to avoid such failures is to resist the temptation to make your home page a shrine to your big lifeless church building. This is because no matter how much money you spent on your building program, most online images of bricks and mortar convey a sense of lifelessness.
Case in point: the website for the Collinsville Baptist Tabernacle in Collinsville Oklahoma, or what I refer to as the “The Church of the Empty Parking Lot.” About the only thing missing from this ghost town pix is a .WAV file of a cricket chirping and perhaps an animated .GIF of a tumbleweed rolling by.
Worth 1000 Words
There is not much to say other than to offer a link to a front page that includes 211kb image of a very symmetric building during the middle of the day with absolutely nobody home.
Add to this the stark white color, the black parking lot, the emphasis on lines and exactly centered boundaries shouts to me “come and behold the enormity of our emptiness” or perhaps “come to the mothership, resistance if futile!” Either way, not exactly the sort of message one should convey if they want to get people in the door.
My suggestion? First, never ever use the height and width arguments of an <IMG> tag to resize an online image because it only resizes the appearance, not the physical girth transmitted from server to computer. Even if you only resize the 2048×1536 image using IrfanView by 85%, you would end-up with a reasonable 11kb 307×320 image that won’t punish your dial-up users for a picture of parking spots.
Better yet, why not offer something along with the building that conveys the fact that the structure is often filled with wonderful smiling faces with hearts full of Christian love and welcome. Take my 10-minute montage example for example:
As you can see, I kept the church building in the mix, but dressed it up with images from Stock.xchng that convey worship, prayer and family … the qualities in a congregation that often draws seekers to a new church home.
Healing the Rest
There are certainly many other aspects of this website that require healing aside from the “big empty.”
The layout and navigation is all over the place, so much so that I would suggest a fresh start, perhaps taking advantage of the following HTML and CSS generators after sitting down and thinking through a 2 level information hierarchy/tree/outline:
The point is very simple, buildings are inanimate objects, it is the wonderful people inside that give it life … focus on them instead.