Not feeling 100%, I haven’t been able to finish up my ventures into SSL. Well, I did create, self-authenticate and install my own certificate, I just didn’t have the juice to write about it in a coherent fashion – at least not tonight. Oh wait, you’re not supposed to know that I write these posts up the night before then mash the publish button sometime mid-morning the next day; but I digress
So bleary eyed, achy and a bit drowsy, I gave my logs for the first time today. There I see just how many of you are checking up on me by means of a variety of aggregators … and something new, a couple referrer entries from a forum at TheOoze.
The topic of the thread starts out on church website reviews and snowballs very quickly into church websites in desperate need of healing. Especially one guy going by the moniker COD1 who writes:
One night at about 3 am I was visiting a church site and all of a sudden it starting BLARING At the Old Rugged Cross in the most wretched Midi imaginable. I about fell out of my chair and had to kill the speakers before it woke the whole house.
And it had floating praying hands and an American Flag that was garish and neon colored.
How many times have I been there and done that? Fortunately, I’m an experience professional, so I know better than to have the sound on when visiting a church website for the first time. Good thing too, because the above quote gave me the bright idea of Googling for any website that contained the file “oldrugged.mid.” One hit, but oh my, that’s all I needed for today’s good example of bad web design.
Say it, Don’t Spray It
Once I get past the QuickTime pop-up, I see I’m confronted by yet another para-church website sporting the black velvet canvas theme, only instead of being a tribute to Elvis, this one is entitled “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”
Well the truth is no one is going to come to a saving knowledge of Christ by having to wait several minutes for a java applet to load only to create a wavy, watery lake-like reflection for five huge Thomas Kinkade-like images of our Savior.
Nor is the truth of God’s Grace going to get conveyed by shouting at readers by rendering everything all bold, and all centered. Especially when hyperlinks use the same color.
Content, Content, Content
Regardless of the fact that the former is a personal page, and the latter one of a ministry, the fact is the Probe Ministry page does a better job of placing the important message of Christ’s resurrection into the minds of the readers because it is all about the message.
Gimmicks such as java applets, gold dividers and animated gifs of swirling police lights and whooshing flames serve only to warn seekers to click the back button before their browser crashes. Don’t do this.
Use a little bit of art if you want. Use a little color to help make your pages visually pleasing. Go ahead and work with the layout a little. And don’t be afraid to use a little bit of bold text to highlight key words or section headers. Note the emphasis on the word little. For example, if the images of this page are a beautiful as the webmaster states, then why attempt to dress them up futher with a reflect-o-applet and bulky beveled edges?
The point is the Internet is a public place. If you want to make “art” pages, go for it. As a trained artist and musician, I know just how much impact such tools can have in capable hands … such as Mel Gibson’s.
But like Mr. Gibson, if you’re going to use your “art” to convey the liberating message of God’s Truth, give the message the respect and honor it is due. Don’t place a bowl over this bright shining light in the form of kitsch and Jesus Junk unless you mission is to shout over His message … and drive seekers away.