Heal Your Church WebSite

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

Image bloat and the Henderson Grove Missionary Baptist Church

The <img> tag in HTML should be treated with the same suspicion one glowers upon all those slickly packaged low-cal cookies we see in the diet food aisle of the grocer. Both promise to avoid a glutton’s guilt – but in both cases it smoke and mirrors, leaving you feeling bloated and sluggish.

One of the most perpetuated sins of church web design is image bloat – most often perpetrated in the form of thinking that somehow, the height and width argument of the <img> tag somehow magically and physically shrinks an image file. It doesn’t – it only appears that way.

see 1792x2000, 920k original
In English, just because I write: <img xsrc=”mychurch.jpg” height=”160” width=”240”> does not magically or physically make my 920k image load like a 20k image. Instead it means I make a page that should load in about 8 seconds take 188 seconds … as reflected by our friends at the Henderson Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Morrisville, NC.

Check out these
stunning stats from the WebSiteOptimization.com.

Here’s what needs to happen to heal this church website:

  1. First, a “thumbnail” of the image needs to be rendered. Unless the webmaster is a guru with graphic packages like PhotoShop or PhotoImpact, then I’d suggest downloading and using that fabulous famous freeware referred to as IrfanView. I think a 75% JPEG progressive compression would do the trick.
  2. Second, I’d crop the image – there’s no need to display all the sky above, the construction to the right, nor the air conditioning unit to the left. This along with the compression would get said 1792×1200 image down to a reasonable 17kb.
  3. Third, I’d ditch the image of the church altogether – church web sites should convey the purpose and personality of the individuals inside, not the bricks and mortar façade.

One other thing to consider is not hyper linking the events page to that or any other image used in said space as it assumes the user is some sort of psychic and able to discern that an image of a building somehow conveys the concept of a calendar.

In other words, if you want to use an image to convey a calendar, then use a calendar oriented image.

kitchy komputer keyboard kruft
Finally, unless your church has a kitchy komputer keyboard-like “welcome” emblazed upon it’s front door – don’t put it on your church web site’s front page. It only conveys a cheapness that is barely described in 1000 words. Instead, put something useful there like a simple one line slogan – or even better – the service times.

Another way to think about this is ask yourself: “is this page so light and easy to load and understand that my grandmother could use it?”


  1. Third, I’d ditch the image of the church altogether

    I heartily concur with the sentiments in this paragraph, but not the conclusion! IMO, the baby just got ditched with the bathwater. :)

    Wherever on their site a church gives directions for location, “Finding us”, or whatever, it is VERY useful to have a nice, street-front, (suitably cropped and compressed) photo of the church building. ENORMOUSLY useful when trying to find the place, in my experience.

    FWIW, YMMV, etc.

  2. Well I appreciate the dialog – and the opportunity to disagree – especially as I find such well-cropped, color-reduced images about as useful as the postage stamp image on my driver’s license.

    Moreover, why would putting the image on the home page be more useful than perhaps giving it a more reasonable context, on the “Print This” version of the “Directions” page?

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