Just as going out to the
HomeDepot Lowe’s and buying a chainsaw doesn’t automatically make you a lumberjack, neither does using a blogging tool for your church website automagically make your church website easy to understand and navigate.
As many of you know I’m a big advocate, in both word an deed, of using blogging systems as a poor-man’s content managlment system for church and charity websites. So I’m always glad to see it, unless of course the tool is used to produce a site that is somewhat less than usable and/or effective. Such is the case of the Christ Anchored Tabernacle of, and I’m guessing, Brooklyn, NY.
The site employs MovableType as a means of displaying and maintaining the church’s website. Unfortunately, even though the webmaster at Christ Anchored has gone to great pains to successfully handle much of the hard-stuff of rendering – the content is less than well placed and in many cases missing some obvious information and usability options.
Let’s start with the <title/> tag by putting in the city and state where the church is located. Search engines love this, so do the people using them. Second, hyperlink the logo in the upper left hand corner of the screen — in this case the graphic metaphor of an anchor — so it takes you back to the homepage. Especially as there is no link back to the home page anywhere on the site; at least none that I could find.
Speaking of finding one’s place, I was unable to find where exactly the church is located. It is only by reading between the lines of the long mission statement / church history that occupies the valuable real-estate above the fold of the home page that I can surmise this church is located in Brooklyn, NY – which makes me want to ask, which subway train do I take and to which stop? And when, as in when do the services occur? Neither of which are answered anywhere on the homepage.
Instead, the home page is built in such a way that you never see any of the new or updated news items when re-visiting the site because you have to hit the page down button three times to get past the mission statement. Instead, I would suggest moving the above the fold-and-then-some paragraphs to the "About Us" page, while renaming the existing About Us page to "What we Believe."
I’d also ditch any text that says "this site best viewed at …" Especially when anyone using MoveableType should be able to create fluid two or three column layouts using any one of a number of CSS templates and/or template generaters out there.
Update: As I was wrapping-up this post, I viewed the Christ Anchored Tabernacle’s “Events” page. Upon clicking on an event of the calendar, then and there did I finally find a location and a time — but if I’ve never visited the site before, how would I know that?
It is clear to me that whomever designed this site is a very talented graphic designer who knows how MovableType works but one who might now be well-served by reading and then applying the common sense wisdom espoused in Steve Krug’s book “Don’t Make Me Think.” Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.