Heal Your Church WebSite


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

Inaccessible, that’s what you are

I find too many church and charity websites putting their best information out of reach. Hence the idea driving today’s bad church web design poster is best sung to the tune of Nat King Cole’s classic, “Unforgettable,” followed by my usual ‘snarkastic‘ enumeration of this pesky issue:

Inaccessible, that’s what you are
Inaccessible so near, yet so far
Like a hy-per-link that eludes me
How the four-o-four page so annoys me
Never before has one suffered more

Heal Your Church Website bad Design Poster #5: Inaccessible

Inaccessible in many ways
And forever more, that’s how it stays
That’s why, ad-min, it’s incredible
That something so intolerable
Thinks that I am intolerable too

<instrumental interlude>
No never before
has one suffered more ooh

Pretty corny? You becha! Pretty common, absolutely. In fact, when it comes to accessibility and church websites – I think the out-of-reach bag of chips pictured in the poster photograph sum up the frustration often felt by many seekers who visit church websites, only to loose their cents and their sanity selecting options that take them nowhere.

In other words, though most talks of web accessibility are often limited to those topics covered in Mark Pilgrim’s seminal “Dive Into Accessibility” — I would like to expand the conversation today a number of examples where I find church webmasters needlessly impairing their users in the following ways:

  • Bed and breakfast markup
  • Employing browser-specific navigation
  • Charging a fee to read sermons and/or Bible studies
  • Not thinking through the information architecture of the website
  • Displaying Flash content with no browser detection and alternative content

Bread and BReakfast!

‘B and BReakfast markup’ is a handy mnemonic mechanism to memorize how not to semantically collude your online sermons and studies with misused taggery such as < b > and < br >.

There’s enough existing (x)HTML taggery out there to make your markup match the meaning of your message. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this when you eventually publish a book and/or study guide based on your blogged sermons.

I write about this in some detail though recent improvements in better-written blogging and CMS applications are making this less and less an issue over time.

Browser-Specific Navigation

Here I’m describing those instances where someone employs something like those nifty cool slide-in, drop-down, tree-expanding menus that only work on Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Or just as evil, uses a DuHtml menu whose sub-choices require the lightening fast reflexes of an over-caffeinated super-hero to click before they disappear.

Charging for Sermons

I had actually received an email on the topic – but lost the link (bad dean, bad!). None-the-less, my point is, sermons, Bible studies and other such “opium content” are critical elements that those shopping for churches online use to gauge whether or not they’re going to visit a particular church on Sunday.

More on this in my post “Is your church website little more than brochureware?

Information Architecture

Also known as your informational hierarchy, your navigational hierarchy, your navigation tree and/or your site map.

This rose by whatever name needs to be well organized enough for the average Joe or Jane to figure out.

Yes, it means putting down the mouse and thinking first then coding – but it is well worth it as categorizing information enhances church website conversion goals.

Flashination

About the only thing more annoying to me than the spinning .gifs of gold lamé crosses on ‘KJV only’ church websites, are Flash-based church websites – or heavy Flash use church websites – that provide no alternative content for those who have not installed the latest and greatest Flash reader plug-in; and/or just don’t view Flash due to restrictions of work, bandwidth and/or physical disability.

I write on this over-used and/or poorly implemented media all too often here to cite a singular article … so does Vincent Flanders who defines the practice ‘flashination‘ in a slightly more adult parlance.

Betcha can’t eat just one

Bottom line is, having inaccessible content is about as frustrating as offering a person a single Lay’s potato chip – whereas making things easy to reach and read is like providing them a sumptuous feast of data that will keep them coming back for more.

The choice is yours.

3 Comments

  1. Is this the link you lost regarding Charging for Sermons?
    Make it Free
    I sent it to you on 10-28-2007.

  2. No Michael, but thank’s again for the link as I’ve been meaning to write about your excellent article!

    What I was referring to was a person who was attending a church where the pastor charged for sermons on the website.

    In fact, I was hoping to find that in conjunction with citing your article.

    Now where did I put that thing …?

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