Heal Your Church WebSite


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

How Flashinating – Creative Kids Ministry

It’s not that I hate Flash, I just hate how often it is misapplied to and/or incorrectly implemented on church, charity and lay ministry websites. Case in point, Aaron Reynods’ Creative Kids Ministry.

I am more than convinced that Flash is a useful tool for delivering compelling multimedia content and/or ‘fat client‘ like navigation and/or user interaction. Meaning, I have no beef with its use for multimedia, and in fact prefer it as it can be leveraged to provide “real-time-like poor-man’s pseudo-streaming” of audio and video, which can save a non-profit organization thousands in media delivery costs (more how-to on this latter topic in an upcoming post).

I am not yet convinced that Flash is wise choice for ‘rich-client-like‘ user interfaces in non-media, non-game like contexts. After all, while Adobe reports the average “Worldwide Ubiquity of the Flash Player” at around 85% … it doesn’t mean all users like it, want to use it, and/or desire it for navigation. At least that’s up until Adobe takes over the world with their browser based Apollo operating system (more on this latter topic somewhere in the future).

I am also not convinced that everyone whom employs Flash for navigation understands how it is viewed, rendered and perceived by their audience. Case in point, Aaron Reynods’ Creative Kids Ministry:

As you can see from the screen shot above, I’ve got Flash turned-off on my FireFox browser because I don’t like all the Flash-based advertisements that bother my reading when visiting various newspaper and/or ad-heavy blog web sites. This should convey back to the server running detection that Flash is not available – and should provide me an alternative path (perhaps more on this latter topic in the future).Using my Internet Explorer, I’m confronted with main menu options that aren’t all obvious in what they give me if I click upon them – for example, what is the difference between “Ministry Counseling,” “Mentoring” and/or “Workshops.”

Why not do what most larger service-oriented shops do and provide a single link that reads “Our Services” that provides a brief description of each – with additional navigation into individual services pages, service comparison charts and/or a pricing and packaging portfolio so potential clients can be easily converted into a service subscription/purchase decision.

Or even simpler – how about a link on the Book image that takes me to the Book page; or at least an Amazon link to again to encourage sales conversion.Finally, dark text on mid-to-dark backgrounds don’t work in terms of readability:

So how to heal this lay ministry’s web site? First, here is a good opportunity for a blog – where the author can talk about a variety of topics on an ongoing basis, updates on appearances, and other dynamically occurring stuff.Second, render whatever media presentations the author has using a Flash plug-in to provide “streaming-like” presentation – or just leverage YouTube and save yourself the hassle and bandwidth altogether.

Either way, I feel this site currently hides the light of its useful and relevant message under a bowl by it’s implementation of Flash for navigation.Your mileage will vary.

3 Comments

  1. As a side question, our church is working on a redesign of our website. One of the features that we would like to have is some sort of scrolling display of pictures. We are looking at possibly using flash to achieve this. I know there are other ways such as animated gifs, but it seems to me that flash is a good choice for this type of application. What do others think?

  2. joatmon – thanks for giving me inspiration for tomorrow’s post.

    I’ll make sure to give you some good information to back up whatever conclusion or assertion you argue.

    That said, begin thinking “what does the scrolling display of pictures” do in reaching my church’s goal of getting and keeping people in the pews?

  3. You can acheive high quality scrolling slideshows with javascript, without the need for flash, which, IMHO, is much more preferable. Look at Lightbox, or, more likely, SmoothGallery (http://smoothgallery.jondesign.net/)