Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Splashing about Ocean State Baptist Church, RI

Imagine visiting a new church where entry to the chapel is blocked by a welcoming committee who insists they first ‘inspire’ you with a 10 minute interpretive dance based on their church name and slogan? How fast would you turn around for some more normalized fellowship at the local IHOP ? That’s pretty much what is happening with the Ocean State Baptist Church of Smithfield, RI website … here’s why:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

In the same way Jesus explains the generosity of the Father to the disciples in Luke 11:11-12, web masters need to do likewise with the content on their church website with the following question in mind:

What webmaster among you, if a seeker asks for the date and time of your services, will instead give him a Flash presentation of the church name and slogan; or if he asks for directions, will give him a mission statement?

Look folks, Jakob Nielsen, Vincent Flanders and host of other usability experts all say the same thing in their books and articles – the home page is the most important page of your site.

This is where users are either made to feel invited or are compelled to evade the rest of the content on your site. Meaning, if you:

  • force them to spell words, phrases and concepts they already know;
  • drag them into a vertigo inducing assault of churchy-sounding slogans;
  • make them listen to the latest creation of your hip-cool-really-swinging-praise-band; and/or
  • inflict upon them sin the above all sins – greet them with your mission statement;

then potential parishioners are going to become one-time website visitors whose bouncerate equals 100 %.

Why? because in offering such online obstacles, you show more ‘Flashination’ with cool church web-ware than giving the guest what they actually want: information about the dates, times, places, personalities and purposes whose sum presents the total of your church or charitable organization.

Anything else is merely an insulting annoyance that not only steals a visitor’s time and bandwidth, but also hides your church’s lamp under a basket.

Especially if you’ve been doing it knowingly for at least 5 years now.

4 Comments

  1. Not to sound insulting, but the majority of your posts (when talking about church websites) are about the things church websites are doing wrong. I was wondering if you could pick a few of your favorites and tell us why they are well done.

    We’re in the process of redesigning our site and would like to have that kind of information.

    Thanks!

  2. Front Page: Celebrating 32 years of God’s goodness to us, we welcome you to experience a visual and written tour of the Ocean State Baptist Church.

    Greetings: God has rewarded our twenty seven years of service in Rhode Island.

    Also, where’s the visual and written tour? Tours have tour guides.

    Link on Services: “How to get the most out of the worship services” It tells about assisted hearing, small children and cassettes & cds. I thought it would help ME get the most out the service (what to expect, wear, bring, prepare, etc.)

    Staff: Nice portraits–smiles!

  3. I haven’t had a chance to look at the OSBC site because it’s currently down. But I can imagine what it’s like from your description.

    I do have one comment/question. Since the home page is the most important page on a site, do we really want to use that space to present the idea that the “total of our church” is made up of the sum of “dates, times, places, personalities and purposes”? Assuming that by “personalities” you mean staff members (I know that’s a big assumption because you may not mean that at all), is this really what the church is?

    I’d much rather use the home page to introduce real people from the congregation, use the website to facilitate face-to-face meetings between those people and interested visitors, and then deal with dates, times, places, personalities, purposes, etc. in the context of a new face-to-face relationship.

    That’s not to say that information shouldn’t be included on a church website. I just don’t think those data points are the essence of the church.

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