When gospel music fans hear Gary McSpadden sing they may feel like joining along in their favorite hymn or praise song – when fans of usable websites visit GarySings.com (archive link) they may feel like partying like its 1995.
Back in the day it was okay for websites to have frames, Easter-egg colors, beveled edges and an eclectic mix of fonts and layouts. But 10 years on the web is like 70 in dog years – and so are aged contrivances such as spinning animated music notes, lime green table borders and embedded media that cause your page to sit up in the middle of the night and howl at the moon. Though in the case of a musician I can make an exception for the media … provided I have the option to opt out.
What Needs to be Done
In other words, while many of my deconstructions often offer advice on things that could use a tweak here-n-there, this is one ministry website that would be better off with a complete do-over.
With that in mind, what I would do if I had a bazillion dollars and all the time in the world to perform miracles of ministry websites? I think I’d first start off with re-defining the information architecture.
This actually wouldn’t be so hard with the McSpadden site as they have in their framed menu some essential elements that convey the purpose and personality of Gary’s message. I think I’d roll the Guest Book, Testimonies and Prayer/Praise Request pages into a single entity. Recordings/Videos and Order Form can be consolidated into a single, updated shopping cart. ‘One-ups’ like ‘Interview’ and ‘Discount Coupons’ probably don’t need an entire page – or perhaps the former rolled into a ‘Press Releases Page’ and the latter a printable popup.
Where it Needs to Go
I realize some of you think I’m too blog-centric, but to me blogging applications are tools well suited to personal news publication and cheap content management. I’m also noticing a healthy technology cycle where blogs drive search engines and search engines drive blogs – so as long as this wave is cresting, I say surf it.
Because of the limited time and technology resources a ministry such as this might have I’d probably go with TypePad – redirecting GaryMcSpadden.com and GarySings.com to something like GaryMcSpadden.TypePad.com and let SixApart deal with all the gory back-end issues. Some might suggest Blogger as a less expensive solution, but I think the multiple blog capability might come into play here.
As I said before, testimonies and stuff could be pushed into a singular category. And I’d go ahead and use TypePad’s multiple blog features to create the e-commerce interface, giving an expensive merchant account the boot if the current store isn’t generating four or five times its cost – and adding to product posts payment options available via PayPal, 2CheckOut and other such services that take a small slice of the action for handling all the nasty security issues.
One Stop Shopping
On the main blog, I’d create categories such as ‘About Gary’ that would contain the biography, press releases and contact information. I’d give the schedule a category of its own (maybe its own blog), using posts to describe upcoming performances – then write follow-ups and move the post into a category that would appear on the front page as ‘what’s new.’
If maintained, this would be an inexpensive and easy way to keep the page up-to-date, changing the skin/template as desired and/or technologies dictate.
There are other solutions but unless Gary Mac has a huge staff then this might provide him with a more convenient way of maintaining a web presences that meets and exceeds the goal of the existing site while alleviating the headaches of hosting.
Most of all, it would produce a site that has dynamic and relevant content compelling to his audience in a way that would seem warmer and more personal then the current brochureware website.
So whatta ’bout you? Got a good idea? Leave a comment in love.