Help Review A Web Site

April 30, 2007 by

We always love to give a little power to the people in the Church Marketing Lab. WheatonGuy18 wants you to step into action. He’s looking for feedback regarding his church’s new web site. What do you guys thinks? What can they be doing better? What are they already doing great?

Update: Due to a certain intern (read: me) making some minor (read: glaring) mistakes, this post isn’t actually active anymore. I love the feedback you guys have been giving, however, and I hope you’ll continue working to make the church more effective together in the Church Marketing Lab. Thanks again for the conversation you guys are sparking.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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12 Responses to “Help Review A Web Site”

  • travis johnson
    April 30, 2007

    Joshua, that thread is closed now. Do you have an updated link?

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  • Ben E
    April 30, 2007

    Great site, great mission. I was immediately attracted to the fresh simple look. Information was easy to find and well organized. The vision video playing alongside the written explanation of the purpose of the ministry was also very effective. Very nice!

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  • Michael Montgomery
    April 30, 2007

    Love the (mostly) monochrome color palette.
    Love the typography choices, with a small quibble that the contrast is a little low for such a small size.
    Love the real photos.
    Unfortunately, it seems to rely on the old-school markup techniques, rather than using web standards and separating content from presentation. Table-based layout, javascript preloading images. Also, it would be nice to be able to use it on my mobile device.

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  • Matt Murph
    April 30, 2007

    At first impression, I thought “Wow! Very slick and cool, young and hip feeling!”. You definitely have a layout with amazing potential. However, the full potential for this site has not been reached yet.
    I love the concept of the black and white photo rotation. You have a great concept here being misguided by the overkill of musical equipment photos. It would be much better to have 4 images that were amazing (in quality and relevance), instead of 27 images, 20 of which are musical and musical equipment related.
    Your vision (which is awesome) states that you are there to assist people (where they are) in the spiritual journey and deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Great vision, and well written.
    Every aspect of your site should reflect that macro-vision. All content, textual or graphical should work towards the execution of that vision. With that said, your B/W image rotation needs some major diversity in the image selection. Every image, should help me better understand Ephesus and make me feel excited about showing up on Sunday. The opportunity here is to give someone a feel of what it’s like to be there without having shown up yet. So here’s what I would suggest on the image selection.
    Images > Suggestion
    Pastor with kids on stage > keep, great pic
    Sound Board Knobs > remove, not relevant
    Lighting Candle > okay
    Stage with band leading > keep this one
    round table standing up > remove this one and replace with a close up of people interaction at the round tables.
    Mic up close > remove
    speaker at slant > keep
    guitar up close > remove
    drums up close > remove
    stage scaffolding up close > seriously remove
    stage to croud > good, but need people on front row
    sound speaker up close > seriously remove
    guitarists playing > remove (over kill on sound and music here).
    band leading > remove (already have one that covers this)
    Hello tags > Very Cool and intriguing, KEEP.
    guitarists spot light > remove
    candles on ground > already have one
    BsssGuitarists with light > remove (overkill)
    Drums up close > remove
    Drummer from behind > remove
    Singer with hand in ear > remove
    band leading w/ fade effect > remove
    Drums up close head on > seriously remove
    Worship leader with arms spread > good, keep
    pastore with crowd round tables > remove
    drummer > remove
    speaker fade > remove
    Please understand that I too want the best for Ephesus. Most every user is going to watch the images rotate, so I challenge you to give them something to look at that carries water. Less equipment, more people, more smiles, more personality, more of the location, venue and atmosphere, and more diverse shots.
    I’ll move on now. The font is too small, and needs a tad bit more contrast on the white content background. I have 20/17 vision and a freakishly huge monitor, and I have to work to read the content. I should be able to sit back and read/scan all content with ease. Size up that font a bit and take the shade a notch darker. You did the right thing by increasing the line height with the tiny font, but it’s just not usable yet.
    I love the section title styles, the green text with the squiggly line… super cool. Maybe make that text bolder, and perhaps use a font-size and boldness that will automatically alias in the browsers. It just makes things look nice.
    I think second to the image rotation horse that I beat to death is the use of the horizontal drop down navigation on the top left. If you need drops, go with vertical, they are WAY more usable. People loose their mouse focus on drop horizontal navs, and given that the sub nav is written in the 10px verdana, again…. Way to small there. Navigation is way too mega important to leave the user to small horizontal drop navigation schemes.
    I love the 3 column lower area on the home page. It is helpful. Given what I’ve said thus far, I won’t say anything more about the layout and style of these modules.
    The footer:
    Loose the “site design by” phrase in the global footer. It’s unprofessional. If you must give the design firm a link back, just put a “website” link in the footer, and let that go to a page that says who you outsourced design to. They don’t need their name on every page of your site, especially when that area is better used for a phone number, and a street address. Please put the phone and address in the global footer. Not only will people have that on every page, but the search engine robots will pick that up and display it when people try to find the location of your service in the search engines. On the right side, probably only 1 and 10 people know what those tiny icons represent. The alt tags won’t help in the image tag there because only people using IE on PC will see that on mouse over. I would say size up that icon and put a tiny description under it, or use a JS mouse over to display help text.
    Overall, the monotone feel is cool, hip and artistic. But I must warn you, when the day comes that you have to publish something that needs color, it’s going to stand out like a sore thumb, because the rest of the site is grey. Going monotone isn’t bad, but it will call for you to make sacrifices some day soon.
    In closing…. I’ve been hard on some aspects here, but that’s only because you have amazing potential with this site, and I don’t think it’s that hard to capitalize and maximize effectiveness in that potential. Everything I mentioned above can easily be implemented without tearing the look and feel apart. I wish you the best and I pray for success on your ministry.

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  • wvpv
    April 30, 2007

    I don’t think automatically playing music is ever good. It’s nice the first time, but after that…

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  • David Russell
    April 30, 2007

    Oh dear—music playing without my permission. I closed the page as fast as I could. When the audio is gone, someone let me know and I’ll review it.
    For now I’ll point the developer to Michael’s review. If the aesthetic is new school, but the code is old school, why?

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  • Gloria
    April 30, 2007

    I feel *exactly* the same way about auto-playing music– and I included that in my feedback flicker-mail to him.
    The discussion thread was closed when i went there so I couldn’t put my comments within the thread.

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  • Tim Bednar
    April 30, 2007

    Clean navigation.
    Michael is right about the markup. Writing semantic, well-formed code will increase Google organic search, accessibility and device independence.
    I also agree about the music. The Flash file adds a lot to the page weight (385K) and its loaded on every page.
    I did not see any client-side analytics (i.e. Google Analytics) in the source code, but I would totally suggest adding that for free.
    I also would consider adding CrazyEgg to create a heatmap of the page.
    With that data, you can tell whether these suggestions are valuable or just opinions.
    Blessings and good work.

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  • Casey VCW
    April 30, 2007

    Very cool
    I haven’t seen a site operate like this. Sweet photography. I’m a sucker for the suttle green. I dig most anything when green is used properly.
    Somewhat hard to read the light gray type.
    Overall very cool, how effective is it however?

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  • Mean Dean
    April 30, 2007

    I’ll blog about this tomorrow.
    For now, I’d suggest a visit to – not to buy anything – but to learn why they are so outrageously successful even though they don’t use subdued text colors and flash.

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  • Eric Shepherd
    April 30, 2007

    I second what’s been said about markup – no reason to have old-skool HTML on a new website. The top-level nav items should go somewhere, not just be “#” links – I clicked Who We Are expecting to go somewhere. I didn’t see the nav right away; I don’t like having to search for navigation on a site. When I went to the “what we do” section, I wanted to go through all the sections quickly, but I had to go back up to the nav and re-activate the hover and click on the next item. The nav is awfully small to rely on hover behavior; I’m pretty coordinated but on a laptop touchpad I lost the hover a few times.
    The look is cool, but with so little contrast there’s no real focus on the page.
    The photography is great! The b/w works very well with those photos.

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  • Mean Dean
    May 1, 2007

    Okay, my review is up … as I said in my conclusion, the site took bunches of talent to make.
    Now the trick will be blending the obvious artistry of the developer with some practical delivery of compelling content that will get people in the door by sacrificing some aesthetic elements for usability.

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