Port Adelaide Uniting Church Web Site

September 29, 2005 by

This week we continue our international peer review theme with a look at a church web site from Port Adelaide, Australia. Share your constructive feedback in the comments.




Port Adelaide Uniting Church
Port Adelaide, Australia
Created by Luke Roberts
Port Adelaide Uniting Church was built in 1860 and now averages 80-90 people per week. The surrounding area is seeing urban renewal and lots of young families moving in, so the church is trying to reach out to them.

The site is trying to appeal to the younger market but also be accessible to the older generation. It was also developed as part of a class assignment where accessibility was stressed. They are hoping to add more features in the coming months, including a podcast of each week’s sermon.


  • What’s working with the web site?
  • Is the necessary info easy to find?
  • What do you think of the design of the site?
  • What do you think of the writing on the site?
  • What’s your favorite feature?
  • Is there anything missing?
  • What would you change?
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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19 Responses to “Port Adelaide Uniting Church Web Site”

  • kevin
    September 29, 2005

    I’ll start things off before anyone else can comment on this: As much as I love seeing other sites link to Church Marketing Sucks, it seems a bit odd on a church web site. The other links are really helpful–stuff regular church-goers should know about.

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  • brand1m
    September 29, 2005

    My first impression is that it looks more like a college/gen x site than something going for young families. I think thats mainly because of the logo type. The black blob reinforces that for me too.
    The orange looks a little too muted on my screen, I would probably strengthen it just a bit.
    The navigation is to the point which I appreciate. The site is very readable and I like that. It might be nice to explore a different font. I don’t like the blue for the links. I realize that this is pretty standard, and blue works with orange, but maybe it just needs to be a different blue.
    The thumbnails on the church building page are choked down too much. They look all stylized. I would bring some quality back to those so they look right.
    The one thing I can help but notice is that the site is near void of humans, and for an organization that is intended to be about people, I think more of that is needed. There are pictures of the building and you talk about how the building is used. Both of those are good to know, in fact I kind of like getting to know the history a little, but to me, the emphasis should be on the people.
    The filter I always use (I fight the put the building on everything demon here at my job) is, if the building burned down tonight, would the church still exist? The answer of course, is yes it would because the church is about the people.
    Overall, I like it well enough, I think with a few small changes it could be really good.

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  • Alex
    September 29, 2005

    Some questions (from the perspective of a user):
    – What of value is being offered to me?
    – Helpful and inspirational? How? What will help me? How can I get inspired? This is not clear to me.
    – Accessibility is a great idea, but its explanation dominates the screen space on the home page. Is this the primary thing of value you are offereing me? But I am not handicapped in any way.
    – How appropriate is it to emphasize accessbility of the site to your “market”, which is supposedly young families?
    – What it C-ChangeSpirit? Oh, there it is, the description. Maybe that could be moved to the top so I know what this means right out of the gate.
    – “Please use the menu to navigate the site?” Isn’t that what I normally do? Why are you telling me the obvious?
    – Why is ChurchMarketingSucks.com important to me? In fact, I am a little offended and it makes me wonder about what you as a church are about.
    – Why is the “Jesus: All about life” media campaign important to me?

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  • Sam
    September 29, 2005

    I love the template! Perhaps not the patterns on the orange, but if you try to please everyone you’ll end up going insane. I’m 28 and married, and if I was church shopping, I’d check this one out! It’s got an aliveness to it that interests me. The quick overview in the sidebar is also a winner. (I want information, and I’d rather not have to click around for it.)
    I do like the dropdown menus for navigation. Again, it’s a speed thing. Since this is aimed at a young audience, they don’t necessarily have to be blue and underlined. (And since most of the web doesn’t use that format any more–at least not in navigation–, it probably doesn’t particularly help the older audience either.) But it does look fine to me. (Sorry Kevin) =)
    I agree that more people (particularly photos) would be a good, even vital, idea.
    My main suggestion would be to put a vistor page in the welcome and in the menu. As a visitor, I’d be looking for the church to introduce itself to me, give me service times, and also a map and directions on getting there.

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  • Drew Clemens
    September 29, 2005

    I agree with brand1m that pictures of people are needed, especially on the home page. It’s my opinion that all of the text, including the header image is way too large. I would suggest making a separate “accessible” parallel website with larger text and included the accessiblity features and instructions. This would free up a lot of space on the homepage to really show what your church is all about.
    Maybe this is a separate issue, but, as an outsider, I’m deterred by the c-changeSpirit content. I guess this is a weekly meeting with different topics. Is this the actual church service? The name scares me a little and I wouldn’t go unless I was personally invited and received a good explanation of the name.
    Overall, the design is unique and memorable and has good potential.

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  • Nathan Smith
    September 29, 2005

    Let me prefix this comment by saying it is not my intention to sound harsh. But, since my full-time job is doing web user-interface design, here is my constructive feedback.
    I question whether any of their navigation really needs to be in drop-downs. It seems like they have enough room to work with, as far as not having a rigid layout, that they could’ve made them seperate links.
    That, and the fact that they don’t disappear on mouse-out in Firefox 1.5 beta, Opera 8.5 or IE6, is a little annoying. Also, having them underlined, but not actually being links, but triggers to the drop-down menu, is a little confusing.
    If there is going to be abnormal behavior, then the links shouldn’t look “normal” but should have something distinctive about them to show the user that it’s going to be something different. Example:
    ^ Their drop-down navigation is clearly different from the rest of the text-based underlined default-looking links. Even Microsoft has gotten away from expandable menus on their main site. Port Adelaide is a small enough site that it really doesn’t need drop-downs at all. It seems they’ve used this technique simply for the sake of eye-candy, with little consideration as to necessity.
    Following the basic writing principles of creating an outline for an essay, you should never have just:

    It is however, okay to have a list even as short as this…

    A” must always be followed by a point “B” or you should just make your point “A” the same as your “1” item. Based on this principle, the History section of this site does not need a drop-down, as it only contains information about the Church Building. This could be due to more history information being forthcoming, in which case I would ask why launch it incomplete.
    To their credit, it does at least pass W3 validation as HTML 4.01 Transitional. To be honest, that upped my respect for the site a whole lot, as it’s not often you find church / Christian organizations that care about web-standards. I also love that it is a CSS based, table-less layout, very nice. We need more people concerned about good clean code. In that area, they’re leading the pack.
    All in all, it’s a nice, clean website with good use of white-space, typography, and color, that I probably would never make use of (or link to) because of it’s poorly implimented navigation system. To their credit, there is a sitemap, so that sort of saves the day and helps offset the bad menu system.
    I appreciate the vision, and want God to be glorified through them, but just have slight issue with using their site. With those issues addressed / fixed, this site has some awesome potential.

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  • Rachel
    September 29, 2005

    Great site! Lovely template. Clear and easy to use.
    I don’t have anything to add to the above comments, almost all of which I agree with, except one thing. I wonder if you should take some of the photos off the site, particularly the one of your church hall and children’s area. They look like they haven’t been redecorated in a while, and when I look at them I can just smell that musty, damp church hall smell – not inviting, really. If you do really want to show photos of your church, the external shot is fine (although it does clash a bit with the lovely modern brand you’ve got going) but what about some more interesting shots? You could hide the apparent dinginess and outmoded style of the interior by filling it with people (which would hide the carpet at least) or doing some interesting closeups of nice features.
    Finally, here’s a tip to clear the dominance of the accessibility copy in your home page. Use a class in your stylesheets called “Accessible_intro” or something like that, make it hidden for the main stylesheet, and visible for the accessible stylesheet. Screen reader software users will get it straight away, and for users needing to use access keys, it’s only one link away. No need to make a seperate accessible version then. (I advise my clients against doing that because the BBC found visitors feel discriminated against when there’s a seperate accessible version of a site. Apparently.)
    I really hope that helps.
    Good luck with it. Not that I really believe in luck though…

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  • Steve
    September 29, 2005

    I generally like the template, although I dig orange a lot, so I may be biased :)
    On the Welcome area… the space that would be “above the fold” if this were a newspaper, I’d like to get right to the point. That’s prime real estate on the screen where you can capture the reader’s interest, so that could be strengthened, and the accessibility stuff, while nice, could slide down a little.
    The c-change thing is interesting. I like the sidebar for that. Works well.
    Names like c-change and KUCA may be recognizable to church members, but to an outsider, I can’t help but wonder if people would just skip over that part.
    One thing I miss that I like on church sites, is a section telling me about the staff. As a reader, I want to know who these people are who shepherd the congregation. Plus I didn’t see any sort of contact information, at least that was easy to find. That could be a nice addition too.
    But in general, I’m left with a very positive impression, and if I were visiting, I would certainly consider a visit to this church based soley on the website.

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  • Anne Jackson
    September 29, 2005

    Something short and simple – when people go to your website, at least ours, we have found they want to know when and where you meet. If you make either that text on the homepage or an obvious link “Directions & Times” it would be much more friendly to the one who is just checking you out for more information.

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  • Andrew Beeston
    September 29, 2005

    I am in agreement with having photos. Let’s show the church as it is, with people! I know however in Australia we should have written permission from people to use photos online/offline but with a church of about 80-90 you shouldn’t find it too hard :) People are probably more likely to feel comfortable with going somewhere like a church when they know what it looks like physically. It’s going to show community, and happy people. :)
    In terms of content, I have some critical points.
    What does this church believe? As far as I can tell from the site there isn’t anything definite, solid or even concrete to show what the church believes. I would think a very important part of the content would have to be including core beliefs. The Uniting Church in Australia is not strong on theology in general, if this is a church where the Bible is faithfully taught then show us.
    I found the breadcrumb navigation a bit redundant. I think simplifying the navigation to no drop down menus and having easy to follow standard links with a link from the logo to the home page would be a whole lot more useful.

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  • Michael
    September 29, 2005

    I like the design concept, geared towards a younger audience which I think is perfectly okay.
    I wouldn’t catch this as a church website, looks more like a blog to me.
    I agree with the comments that it needs a touch of people, would give it a more lifestyle feel to it.
    Thanks for putting it up for discussion, hard to do.

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  • Nate
    September 30, 2005

    I would agree with many of the comments made above by Nathan Smith. First, to re-iterate what he said – I am very impressed that you are web standards compliant. Many churches dont realize the importance of this – and this time it will save them as the site progresses.
    Though the template is nice (reminds me of all of the blogger sites), it is also somewhat bland. As others have stated, pictures will help with this immensely.
    This could be someones first impression of your church, what do you want them to take away from this impression (or, will they even stay and give you a chance?). I feel that, as nice as the logo is – its taking up alot of screen real estate at the top. Someone viewing this on a smaller screen may not even see much content on their first view. Maybe changing subsequent views to go directly to content might work?
    The majority of the content on the front page talks about the accessibility of the website – not so much about the church. I would leave this blurb to a separate informational page for those who are interested – and use this space wisely for marketing/church purposes. Here is where you can answer some of the many questions your visitors may have about your church.
    The drop down menu is confusing when set as textual links that only bring up a menu (which, again, does not go away in firefox on mouse out). Try spicing this up a little bit with the CSS – to set it apart as the menu.
    When you want someone to click on a link, it is advisable to avoid the words ‘click here.’ Let the link flow with the sentence and the user can click accordingly.
    Is the news section just the links? Or are you going to have some news in that place?
    Regardless, you are ahead of the pack if you ask me! Keep up the good work.

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  • Mario
    September 30, 2005

    I agree with most above. The main element that I thought was missing was an experience. I don’t know if I got to experience the church fully.
    Also I thought it lacked interactivity and dialogue. I recently read something,
    “Interactivity is not about navigation per se, or the ability to select from a menu, or analogies, animation, rollovers or canned content. It’s about empowering your customers and prospects.
    In fact, the secret to brand communication on the
    Internet is your ability to present your brand in such a way that customers and prospects can interact with your key messages. That interaction creates brand experience. And if done right, it can be used to empower your customers and prospects around your brand. To help them do their jobs better, faster or more effectively….”
    I really like that it was web compliant.

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  • Anitra
    September 30, 2005

    I agree with the other comments that the site seems very geared towards young people with the design, but somewhat sterile, when you have several pictures of the building, but none of people!
    As others have said, the blue underlined not-link text is confusing. I like the black box on mouseover – I’d expand on that theme (maybe a white box with black text instead of the pseudo-link?)
    Move the links to CMS.com et al. OFF of the homepage! That is not what people come to your website to see. Nor should the “accessibility” information be on the homepage. The homepage should immediately answer these three questions: Where? When? Why?
    1) Where are you? – I’m assuming Port Adelaide in Australia, but don’t you have something more specific than that? An address, perhaps? You should also have a link to directions from the homepage.
    2) When can I come? – you MUST put up the time of your Sunday morning service(s). It’s also nice to indicate what other things happen during the week.
    3) Why should I visit your church? – this can include a statement of belief, quick descriptions of programs, any upcoming events, etc.
    I’d probably move the content from the “Worship” page onto the homepage – that encompasses the basics of what should be there.

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  • Taylor
    October 3, 2005

    I like the gen-x feel about the page. It does seem a little bland but I think that mainly stems from everything being so large. Everything, text, graphics, links, everything could stand to be shaved down 25-33%. Unless you’re target group is 65+, smaller/tighter is better. Again, I think it will help out on the “bland” feel people are getting.
    Pictures are good, but please make sure that they really fit and are well placed. The worst thing you can do is pick out a decent picture and then put it on there for the sake of having a picture and it doesn’t really fit and destroys the whole layout.
    So unless it’s a great pic and it flows really well with the page, don’t do it. Consider stock photography if you have the budget for it.

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  • Taylor
    October 3, 2005

    Also, really quickly, the drop downs that have to be clicked on to be a drop down really bug me. If you want drop downs, make them drop down on mouse over, not on click. I think it will hurt your navigation and it just doesn’t feel right.
    Another thing on naviagtion, most web sites will have all the main links listed along the bottom of each page. This is a random site, but get’s the point across.

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  • Taylor
    October 3, 2005

    The very most basic function of any church is meeting for the service on Sunday. I know different denominations/cultures/age groups call the Sunday service different things but it needs to be clear where to find that information. Growing up in the church and in different denominations I know that a lot of churches call this time the “Worship” as you do. But if a non-christian or un-churched person were to come to the site I think they might be a little lost initially on how to find the times to come to your worship service. Personally, I would just put it at the very top on the right hand side where you have “C-ChangeSpirit.” Leave that, but just move it down a bit and put your service/worship times there. “When we meet” something that clearly communicates when the church regularly comes together as a body.

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  • Drew
    October 3, 2005

    Thanks for sharing the internet branding quote. There’s a lot of bells and whistles that can be added to a website, but you really only need the ones that will help people to connect to your brand (or vision). What is the source of this quote? Just curious.
    One thing I’ve been doing on our church website is asking survey questions that tie into our Sunday Message Series. This connects people to the message and gets them thinking about the topic during the week.
    CMS also uses the survey tool effectively.

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  • chuck
    October 4, 2005

    The site struck me as really verbal and not very visual. Too much reading for me. The graphic at the top of the home page has a nice look but other than that I saw a lot of words, linked to more words, linked to more words…

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