Note - please be aware this case study was written back in October of 2004, and as such does NOT reflect the improved implementation that currently exists in February of 2011.
The good folks at the Salem Baptist Temple have recently reached out to me to let me know that they’ve updated their site.
You’re eagerly and strongly encouraged to visit the vastly new and improved site, a WordPress-driven version that does not suffer the issues detailed in the personal opinions of mine written some 6.5 years ago.Â – Dean, 09Mar11
I’ve got nothing against those whose love for His law is such that they not only adhere to it strictly, but also strictly adhere to a single interpretation of the original Hebrew and Greek. After all, how they practice their faith is no more different, at least to me, then someone who insists on matzos over saltines or singing four part chorales over contemporary praise songs. Paul addresses this issue of practice in many of his epistles most notably 1 Corinthians 10.
No, what perplexes me more than once is, how can people who love the law to such a degree for issues far more important than the Internet not also practice the laws governing good web site design? Case in point: the website for the Salem Baptist Temple in Salem, Oregon.
Here we have a page that has paved their portion of the Information Highway starting out with a large picture of their church, well centered against a blood-red background. I’m sure their intentions are good, but I could think of at least 95 ways of making their church website a bit more usable merely by making it a bit more readable and resource-filled.
For example, since this page is essentially brochureware, why not at least put the times of the services and a hyperlink to an online map on the front page? And instead of a hazy picture of a small building locked-up tight, why not at least show us an action photo of God’s love going on inside – such as the picture of their Morning Service?
Another way I might heal this website would be to take all the webring information gobbling up bandwidth on the home page and port it to their existing links page. In the process I’d the 1997 era graphics such as animated mailbox and I’d rework the “Heaven … Can you know for sure?” graphic so it’s not so beveled and a bit more inviting.
I’d rework the navigation buttons on the left so they use CSS rollovers to avoid unnecessarily representing text with graphics. The frames would be gone, so would any any and all instances of text that is underlined that isn’t a hyperlink. We do after all worship a God of order, having people clicking on plain text only causes your users to utter things in strange tongues which would give any interpreter cause for pause.
But mostly, I think I’d lay hands on the content … or the lack thereof. One thing I know about my more fundamental brothers and sisters, they’re into the meat, the solid food of the Gospel, so why not reflect that by offering first time visitors something a bit more detailed.
Sermons come to mind, but so do missions and Bible studies. Community outreaches, prayer requests, perhaps even a bit more on the church’s history. In other words what would help this church website would be something, in fact anything, a bit more substantive that might compel a like-minded worshiper new to town to grace their doorstep on a Sunday morning.
So how about you? Got any good suggestions on compelling content this cool little church — or in fact any church — could add to their website? Leave a comment in love.