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:
- animated spinning gifs
- a lime green counter
- divider bars
- MIDI Files
- all centered text
- multi-colored fonts
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.”
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.
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.