Heal Your Church WebSite

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

XMess Xample for 2003

click here to see a 60k image of Christmas decorations gone bad For those of you reading this site via an aggregator, you might want to visit the visual example I’m providing my graphic-enabled browser equipped friends. It is a picture of a house in my neighborhood that goes a bit hog-wild when it comes to holiday decorations. And we’re not just talking Christmas, as you can see from an article I penned this past Easter entitled “Just Because You Can, Part 3.”

The point is, even though we’ve made great strides in creating a more usable and accessible Church online, there are still thousands of church and charity websites that offer the online equivalent of these over zealous neighbors. That is, they get so caught up in how things look that the message tends to get lost.

For example, check out the 60kb picture in all it’s glory, I’ll wait … Did you see the manger? It’s there, it’s just impossible to see among the four large inflatable snowmen, Santa Claus and Snoopy on his Dog house, candy canes, snowflakes hanging from trees and enough lights to illuminate all of Elizabeth City, New Jersey.

So it is with church websites that feel the need to include spinning animated crosses, splash pages, flash-based splash pages, flash-based navigation, animated marquees, page swipes, dhtml snowflakes drifting down the screen, pop-ups, pop-unders, cursed cursor trailers, disabled right-click, everything centered in eight bright colors using ten different fonts, all in bold.

Don’t do this. Yes they effects are all cool … for about the first five seconds, after that, they tend to drive your users away.

“Never have Christians tried to be so relevant. But never have Christians ended up so irrelevant. How can this be?” – Os Guinness, “Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance

So with that in mind, let us resolve this next year to heal our church and charity websites of these encumberances as we keep our eyes on the prize …

… and with that, I want to wish all of you a very happy new year. 2003 has been great, in no small part because of the many of you who have participated in this little project. Thank you, and God Bless!


  1. Great article

    You forgot about some other things. (1): The ultra-fundamentalist webpages that use the old english fonts to make their pages look as old as their 100 year old KJV bibles because in their opinions ‘old means God and new means the great apostacy and compromise.’ (2): The ’embedded midi’ file that plays ‘just as I am’ in an old pipe organ sound that you can not disable when you are listening to either the ESPN Radio network, the London Philharmonic, or your local favorite radio station. (3): The poor contrast in colors between text and background for example, yellow times new roman font on an eggplant purple background. (4): Christian webpages that look like a cozy country cabin with calico print / ruffled curtains or has the appearance that Christianity is well versed with the aesthetics of the Victorian era.

    I may not be the best web page designer in reference to my web page but I do try to rise above the ‘pet peeves’ mentioned in your article. In fact, this statement below is ine of my FAQ’s on my webpage


    Q – Why do you not use a lot of graphics, Java or embedded music on your webpage?

    A- Java and embedded music takes time to download and has a effect on the appearance on the webpage. This is true with older computers with slow modems installed. Does this mean that I do not like new Internet technology? No. In fact you will see more Real Audio and Windows Media Player files on my page in the future. Too many personal Christian webpages get too carried away with the embedded music of old-time hymns that cannot be disabled, the Java lake applets, and the colors that do not properly contrast. My goal is to make a contextually, asethetically, and navigationally pleasing Internet experience for you while getting the Gospel out to the world. I want to leave a lasting impression that Christians can do something right and pleasing without it being third-rate, inferior, and “jacklegged” in appearance.


    Sincerely yours

    Bob Rouse
    Founder, Editor, and Webmaster
    Available Light Online
    web = Available Light Online = http://www.availablelightonline.com
    blog = Totem To Temple = http://www.availablelightonline.com/blog

  2. All good points, and I like the sound of that book. However, I’m a poor university student, so sell it to me.