Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Highway Harvesters Ministries of Arlington, TN

Back in the early-90′s, I had a job that required that I drive 22 miles around the dreaded I-95/495 Capital Beltway, each way. I only lasted a year at the job, not because of the work, but because of ‘other drivers.’ The only thing that made it bearable was that I had picked up an audio version of the NIV Bible; 70 tapes in all. It is amazing how much we miss of the Old Testament – it is also amazing how these tapes kept me quite a bit saner while stuck in some of the U.S.’ worst traffic.

It is with this experience in mind that I have to take my hats off to any ministry that provides audio tapes to truckers. Imagine their long hours on the road — and the benefit to this captive audience as they listen to His word preached and expounded.

So it is with a delicate touch that I want to bring to your attention a para-church website aimed at distributing audio tapes to truckers: Highway Harvesters Ministries of Arlington, TN.

As you’ll quickly see, this site is a bit stuck in a 1997 design concept that includes:

  • Frames
  • animated spinning gifs
  • a lime green counter
  • divider bars
  • MIDI Files
  • all centered text
  • multi-colored fonts

Heal It!

Along with these dated fashion statements is content that could use some healing. For example, on the page entitled ‘Local Distributions,’ great concept, but why not also offer email addresses and a hyperlink to MapQuest or Yahoo Maps?

Instead of “Favorite Bible Verses” page, why not augment this page by incorporating something a bit more dynamic like the ESV Verse of the Day? What might also add some dynamic and compelling content is an input screen where visitors can submit “Testimonies.”

Blog It!

Better yet, why not employ some form of blogging software as a form of web publishing on the cheap? This would not only allow for easy updates of testimonies and changes of address, but would also facilitate the “Monthly Newsletter” which is four months stale, and offers nothing in the way of archives.

Another advantage of using the blogware approach is, depending on which blog application is used, the site could be updated via email — and to provide alternate renderings of the same post to the increasing number of truckers who are going wireless via cell phones and hand held computers.

Distribute it!

Regardless of how the site redesign is deployed, one other thing the webmaster of this worthy ministry might want to consider is to provide these audio-bound messages in a downloadable format. This would not only allow for the wireless trucker immediate access, but would allow those who are slightly less high-tech to download and burninate these important message to a CD for play at home — or on the road.

I realize this last suggestion introduces a need to upload catalogue new audio files, but most blogging applications allow for file uploads, multiple categories and automatic rendering of information chronologically.

As always, and I know you regular readers know I’ve been dying to use this oft-quoted aphorsim: your mileage may vary.

3 Comments

  1. I dunno, Dean. I think the retro look sort of fits the site.

    Just back from a 2 week vacation in Alaska. Apparently the North Carolina and Alaska Baptists are in partnership this year. We kept running into groups of tarheels (all in identical t-shirts) in the strangest places, on mission trips.

  2. Downloadable audio would make this site much more useful. They could also provide info about some Christian XM, FM or AM radio stations. As for blogware, Postnuke has a built-in download module, which could be used for providing audio like this. Maybe they could do an iPod giveaway, too.

  3. I don’t think blogware is the answer for every website. I must disagree with you on the fact of this website benefiting from its use.

    Blogs are great for providing news that needs to be updated daily, but this website wants to offer information about their tapes and how to order them that will probably not change very often.

    I am also a big fan of specialization. I love the Henry Ford’s concept of the assembly line and Adam Smith’s concept of the division of labor. When a application is built just for a purpose, it usually does that function better than an application programmed to do that function and another function.

    Blogs are built specifically for posting regular informational content. They handle that very well. I do not think that blogware should be used to upload and distribute downloadable audio. I believe this could easily be done without blogware.

    As for the design of the website, the points you made are valid. This website needs healed. A professional-looking design will attract more people to your ministry. Some truck drivers may be turned off by the 1997 design.