Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Fundamentals : The Salem Baptist Temple

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.  – 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?

friends do NOT send email to this addresss - spammers, go ahead and harvest THIS e-mail addressAnother 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.

5 Comments

  1. Good find Dean. That front page is atrocious, and did you notice the “company” that designed the site did not link their little advertisement? I’m guessing not their best work.

    The interesting thing is, once you get past the front page, the site isn’t that bad, relatively speaking. Their is user interaction when a nav element is moused (although I do agree some CSS goodness would help there) and they have some information architecture, albeit with little actual info. Goes to show you that your home/index page is so important, as I imagine most people would fly out of this one without ever delving into it’s secondary pages.

  2. I’ll chime-in on the teenage boys’ page: http://www.salembaptisttemple.org/teen_b_class.htm

    1) Thirteen to 19 year-olds?
    2) e-mail: salembaptisttemple@JUNO.COM
    3) That e-mail address is in the open (mailto: link vs. encrypted/form) … Wanna buy any presciption drugs… CHEAP?
    4) There’s more wall than humans in the picture… crop… crop…crop! We wanna see faces!

    I’m gonna guess that a single webservant, like myself, has contrubited his/her time and talents to creating this site… Good start! Hang-on to your humbleness and soak up all you can from sites like this… Look forward to Version 2 of your website!

    -Frank

  3. Several things grabbed my attention:

    1)Front Page (index.htm) does not have exactly the same links as the services frame (services.htm) and the links behave differently on the Front Page than the services frame — inconsistency.

    “This page uses frames, but your browser doesn’t support them” — excellent deny all visitors that can’t view frames from seeing the whole site…ever heard of linking to a site map, or perhaps a link back to the homepage?

    2)The all-encompassing frame has the title of “New Page 1″ while all ‘real’ pages actually have a title that we don’t see — one of the big problems with frames.

    3)Temple Times: http://www.salembaptisttemple.org/times_main.htm
    claims to be “a monthly publication written by Pastor Brown.” Maybe so but only Mar/Apr, Sep/Oct 2001 are listed on the site. The text claims more than the page offers, it would be better if the page said, “here’s our best versions so far” because it wouldn’t be claiming something it can’t proof…monthly means monthly, not monthly every 4 years…

    4) Ministries: should discuss more about what the particular class deals with, and if possible, where are right now in discussion (i.e. “teaches beginner class” is too vague). Fairly good photos that only need minor touchups they do good to show the teachers, but needs more work on showing why this ministry is so good to the web visitor.

    Indeed Dean, this site can use quite a bit of healing but they are on the right track especially if the implement your changes and all these suggestions.

  4. Timely content is labor-intensive, but is a critical part of any church. For visitors, it tells them that ‘something is happening at this church!’ For members, it tells them WHAT and WHEN something is happening.

    I would urge Salem Baptist Church to also consider posting their news and events at the web site.

    While some deeper static content will add to the meat of the pages, current news will give people a reason to _return_ to the site; and hopefully will give anyone looking for a new church home a reason to attend a couple services to ‘try on’ the church.

    -deb

  5. I am having fun reading your comments — and am still unsure if you’re straight up — either way very good: “they’re into the meat, the solid food of the Gospel… so why not reflect that by offering first time visitors.” Very funny. :)