Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Healing the First Baptist of Teaneck website

I’m somewhat familiar with Teaneck, NJ. As anyone of Greek-immigrant ancestory, I have several relatives in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area, including an uncle bearing the same name as my father. Those of you who have seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” may recall the running gag where everyone was named “Nick,” which in my family on my father’s side has been replaced with “George.” It still confuses my ‘xenos/barbaros‘ wife at family functions … but I digress.

My point is that the general populace of this busy suburb are people of education and means. In fact many artists I know now living and working in NYC have their roots in Teaneck. So I’m hoping my mini-review of the First Baptist of Teaneck (FBT) website might inspire some local talent to heal it of some mistakes still common with many church’s online offerings.

Starting with the Church Building

One of these days I’m going to put together a lecture entitled “the Seven Deadly Sins of Church Web Design.” Somewhere near the top of that list is going to be the transgression of plastering a huge image of the building on the front page – especially when that image should and could be optimized and color reduced instead of virtually resized with the height and width attribute of the <img> tag.

In English, while I prefer to see smiling faces, the FBT website needs to at least physically reduce the size of the image of the church on their front page. The height and width attribute of the <img> tag only virtually reduces the size – that is it only looks smaller, but downloads to a visitor’s browser 169kb big.

Essential Info belong Above the Fold

I like the Scripture reference – but below that, ditch the image of the church, or move it so people see the General Information and the Schedule first. This is often what visitors want and need the first time they visit your site.

To get a bit more room, I’d also reposition the horizontal menu along the top that reads [Home] [Feedback] [Contents] [Search] so it sits just below the title banner bearing the Church’s name – eliminating as much white space between the two as possible.

Get Consistent with the Navigation Nomenclature

Speaking of the top-level menu, I might reword [Contents] to read [Site Map]. It doesn’t seem like much of a change, but it is one of those “Don’t Make Me Think” conventions that goes a long way.

Speaking of Steve Krug’isms, I’d also make sure the <title> tag, the title banner and the page name of each subpage reads exactly as the menu option used to get there. While FrontPage did handle the title banners for the webmaster, I think it might be more intuitive to render destinations such as the Schedule Page as schedule.htm instead of news.htm. On this particular page, it might also help to get rid of the Church Calendar of Events sub-title link as it doesn’t really offer any new functionality and could potentially confuse someone when they click on it and essentially get the same page.

Your Turn

That’s about it, at least for me; three items that can be healed in about an hour using their existing FrontPage license and the free image optimizing application, IrfanView. How about you? What two or three things might you heal in a hurry? Leave a comment, but do so with love.

5 Comments

  1. going with the “don’t make me think” concept, when I click on the menu bar on the left, it changes for each page, I need to click back to the home page each time I want to go some where different. Non standard to me at least. Make the horzional top menu standardized, but more complete, and the left menus ONLY the submenus for each section, not a combination of “home” and the submenus. FWIW

  2. To fix the image, they don’t even need Irfanview. You can ‘optimize’ an image for the selected size right within Frontpage. On the image toolbar there is a button with a box with arrows pointing at each corner. Easy as pie, if you know what that button does.

    There are other things going on here that show that the work on this site has been forgotten. Can we ‘lay on hands’?

  3. I really think they need to touch up the “directions” utility. For example, I’ve tried using the utility to map out how to get to my church from my house and it wasn’t even close — it recommended routes that don’t even exist and certainly aren’t “ideal”. I think they would be better off to have a link to mapquest’s map focusing on their church since it’s a lot harder to get wrong results with a map when the individual can map it out themselves.

    I agree with the inconsistent navigation links on pages other then the Home Page. They would do better to show all links on any one page with and not allow the current page to be re-clicked. If the page is a section all it’s own, subpages should be listed right after the current page in the listing.

    Personally, I’d do a triple-heart bypass surgery on FrontPage before using it in a site design…nothing like MS code that doesn’t appear properly in non-MS web browsers and definitely not as it was intended to appear.

  4. “nothing like MS code that doesn’t appear properly in non-MS web browsers and definitely not as it was intended to appear.”

    Maybe true, except the site looks pretty darn similar in Firefox 1.0PR. Plus check out the latest version of FP, the code is pretty good, don’t confuse it with the early versions.

  5. The picture of their church *links* to the humongous, straight-out-of-the-camera Church.jpg, but the img tag actually references Church_small.jpg, a tiny 2.71KB 100×74 pixel image. That’s why it looks so bad. It’s not being reduced, it’s being stretched!