Factors That Improve Online Experience

September 1, 2008 by

Looking for a church web site overhaul? Or do you know a pastor who needs to be looking for a site overhaul? IDEA has released a study titled Factors That Improve Online Experience. If your church web site sucks, this is a great place to begin brainstorming something new. They interview three different groups–nonprofit organizations and cities, web designers and firms, and the general public. And you wind up with some of these gems:

  • Designers are overly optimistic about visitors’ ability to maintain orientation.
  • Good visual design and up-to-date information are critical.
  • Visitors want information fast.
  • Visitors point to the lack of breadth and depth of site content as causing an “Information Gap.”
  • Visitors still need handholding.

Some of these seem like “Duh” statements, but you can get a deeper explanation with their executive summary, or the truly adventurous can download the full report.

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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3 Responses to “Factors That Improve Online Experience”

  • Brad
    September 1, 2008

    There are some good points in this piece, certainly backed up by our experience at SiteOrganic. For instance, we make sure to include project managers and/or client account reps at every internal creative review meeting. They’re in the room not necessarily to provide creative feedback, but to assess the design’s effectiveness at achieving the client’s goals–and to provide some usability insight. Even the best designers will sometimes lose sight of the end user in favor of a particular design concept.
    I also heartily agree with the notion that users need hand-holding. This isn’t an indictment of the IQ of users. Rather, it’s just a reflection on how all of us behave online. We don’t like to “learn” how to move around on a Website; it should just work. Websites should have clear navigation, an immediate sense of bearing, and a consistent flow throughout the site so that the user knows how they got here (and how to get back). Also, don’t ignore small things like avoiding dead ends, supporting the mouse wheel (classically ignored in all-Flash sites), and making sure the site fits well on a variety of screen sizes.

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  • Melanie
    September 2, 2008

    I think many churches should heed this advice. For example, I have recently moved to a new area and went to a church’s website to find out service times for Sunday. Guess what? They had a 5 page website that nowhere listed worship service times. Duh!!

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  • Jim McGee
    September 5, 2008

    FaithHighway has been sponsoring some mystery visitor reviews of church websites, and there’s a real mix of good and bad. I can echo Melanie’s experience of not finding service times or an address (sometimes not even a mention of the city/state!). The visitor-specific buttons are fine, but I’d encourage every church that wants people to come to have their location and service times near the top of the home page (don’t make people click or scroll to find this key info).

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