Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Christ Anchored Tabernacle – tools don’t make the man

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.

6 Comments

  1. Another issue I’d have is less of a design nature – the prayer requests section. Not only can people post requests publicly (apparently unmoderated), their e-mail addresses are also publicly available. Add to that the legal issues of someone posting another person’s health condition (with HIPPA that could be grounds for a lawsuit), and you’ve got potential trouble.

  2. Pretty cool looking website, I’m impressed with the unique design. With a few touchups like you mentioned, it could be a pretty good site.

    I despise the “best viewed in” language, but especially this one because it is incorrect grammar “this site is best viewed at 1024×768 or greater with IE 6 and mozilla firefox”. So, I should have both IE6 AND Mozilla Firefox open at the same time to view properly this site?

  3. Have you seen WordPress 1.5′s “Pages” functionality? In my opinion, is endlessly easier to use as CMS than trying to “fake” non-weblog pages in MT.

  4. One thing you didn’t note (maybe didn’t bother you, and if so, fair enough) is the “Miami Vice” colour scheme. There are no bold colours; it’s all greys and pastels. While the muted colours look great for the logo, borders, and so forth, I found some of the text, particularly the smaller text on the sidebar, to be very difficult to read. Green and blue is great; but for text, how about dark green and blue?

  5. Hi there everyone, I’m the one who did the christ anchored tabernacle site.

    Great write up I must say. I agree with 99% of it. And in actuality this was one of the first sites that I ever made. I recently revisited a few things on it to get the validation fixed on the main page (flash), the events calendar was a big headache in validation, Its not there but got a considerable amount of the errors out.

    I would tremendously love to redesign much of this site with usability in mind. In addition to switching over to wordpress which is what ive been using for quite a while now.

    So all in all its one of those situations where you look back on things you did when you were starting out and live with what you didnt do right,that you could hopefully do now…

    hey at least it wasnt in tables ;)

  6. Hi there everyone, I’m the one who did the christ anchored tabernacle site.

    Great write up I must say. I agree with 99% of it. And in actuality this was one of the first sites that I ever made. I recently revisited a few things on it to get the validation fixed on the main page (flash), the events calendar was a big headache in validation, Its not there but got a considerable amount of the errors out.

    I would tremendously love to redesign much of this site with usability in mind. In addition to switching over to wordpress which is what ive been using for quite a while now.

    So all in all its one of those situations where you look back on things you did when you were starting out and live with what you didnt do right,that you could hopefully do now…

    hey at least it wasnt in tables ;)