Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Pastors, programmers & graphic artists listen up: your user isn’t you

Unless you’re writing a church website for a bunch of blogging pastors, frustrated graphic artists and/or “… burned out computer geeks, your user isn’t you. … This is very hard to get through somebody’s head; it’s very hard to get rid of this notion that what you like your user is going to like… Again, your user is not you.”

Please pardon my blatant rip-off of Deborah Hartmann’s quote of David S. Platt’s recent keynote entitled “Why Software Sucks.”

Perhaps it is 30 hours of planes and airports traveling back from Kuala Lumpur that’s made me a bit grumpy. Perhaps it is the head-cold inflicted on me by the sick six year old who kicked my right side most of the way home. Or perhaps it’s just the continual parade of church websites that suck that has me annoyed at the great cloud of witlessness that is the Church online.

Probably a bit of all three. None-the-less, there’s a simple truth that I think to many of us are missing when it comes to designing and maintaining our church and charity websites which I’m hoping gets quoted and discussed web-wide:

For the most part, people aren’t seeking the church experience online – rather they are shopping online for a real-world church experience.” – Dean Peters, HealYourChurchWebSite.com, 16Sep07.

Agree or disagree, I’d like this meme mulled-over in as many places as possible – and along with it, the following 5 suggestions to make your church website work, based on David Platt’s 5 suggestions to ” Just Make It Work:”

  1. Add a novice to the design team: I’m thinking a silver-haired seasoned citizen as they are often overlooked, yet comprise a significant population of any church body.
  2. Break convention when needed: Quit thinking brochureware (print marketing) and/or writing like Spurgeon – the web is different.
  3. Avoid feature “silliness”: Your website isn’t a stinkin’ art project, so cool it with the cheap tricks.
  4. Instrument your application very carefully: again I’m thinking silver-haired seasoned citizen and other members of the “silent majority” who may not be geeky cool, but are the ones who need an effective church website the most.
  5. Consider whether design decisions are taking you closer or farther away from the software *just* working: this implies you have a clear understanding of what it is your church and/or charity website is trying to accomplish. Meaning, I’d document some use cases.

In the meantime, I’m going to work on some articles this coming week to detail some simple procedures that will take your church website from cool and unused, to effective and often implemented.

As always, your comments, questions and concerns are always welcome.

10 Comments

  1. This will surely be a timely subject for me as I am current working in a major re-design for a church website.

    Thanks,

    Rafael

  2. I’m not sure whether to slap the back of the head for your attitude or slap your back for being so right. I build web sites and tools for a living, and as I read your posts I am torn between the two extremes.

    While on the one hand, I want to say “Yes! I HATE when I see that. It cheapens the message and condescends to the viewer,” on the other I am half afraid that as I read through the rest of your site (oops, blog!) I am going to come across a web site I helped a well-meaning church put together. Since my company’s vision is to help pastors put forward their vision, we occasionally code work that doesn’t fit my own first preference.

    Oh, I am reading onward, alright! …but I am doing it cringing, with with one eye half-closed, still deciding where to slap you. :) Nah, we don’t hate ya.

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