I cut you man! Seriously, it’s rare that I review a non-church nor charity website, but this site was so chock full of great lessons in what not to do on your church and/or charity website, I couldn’t help myself.
The basic message today being: don’t let fear of copyright violations drive your website design.
So first, let’s analyze and review what we’re up against, starting with the annoying Flash animation introduction that’s so important and relevant to the site’s conversion goals that we’re offered a “skip intro” hyperlink.
Oh but wait, that’s not all. After the little show of factories and knives, you are presented a copyright statement which you MUST agree to before proceeding.
From the language, I’d surmise that the folks presenting the site are likely worried about the images and text of their items winding up on E-Bay.
Basically sending the message “before you proceed, we know you’re here to rip us off.”
Oh but wait, click on the menu choice labeled “home” and you’re forced to agree with the copyright statement a second time.
Basically sending the message “hey, we know you lied to us, so let me hear you agree again!” in the form of a copyright notice splash page a user has to accede to each and every time they “go home.”
Oh but wait, click on their “What’s New” menu choice and there’s even more fun.
Click on any images of the new knives, note I said click – not just right click – and once again with you’re threatened with both criminal and civil penalties that could range as high as $150,000.00.
Basically yet another message to their users “stop being the crooks we know you are or we’ll cut you up in court.”
Oh but wait, view the source and you see that the site is made search engine hostile by displaying the images of the knives as background images to individual tables, and then overlaying that with a hyperlink to their copyright message via a transparent .GIF image that spans the size of the table dimensions. And don’t expect any use of ALT or TITLE tags to compensate.
Basically a way of telling search engines and individuals with accessibility issues that they’re not wanted nor loved.
Oh but wait, click on their videos page and you get blasted with a single, un-streamed QuickTime video that on my fast computer connected to a T1 froze.
Basically saying “yes, we know there’s this thing called YouTube out there, but we’re old school.”
Basically saying “if it was hard for us to make this site, so it should be hard to find related stuff all in one convenient place.”
Oh but wait, click on their “Newsflash” link on the upper right and you’re taking to a related site.
Basically saying “we wanted to create a navigational experience that simulated what happens to a kid who is sent to camp, following by his parents moving without providing a forwarding address.”
Oh but wait, other pages aren’t so insidious, however they’re also not that useful in terms of conversion goals.
Basically, you can click to enlarge an image when you’re not getting hit up with a copyright threat – but even this is problematic. Meaning, if you want people to buy your new knives, then why not transport them to a sales or shopping cart page when they click? Or at least provide that option somewhere. Duh!
Oh but wait, after scuttling the sites usability and accessibility, click on the “Press” menu option and you’re sent to a page entitled “links” where they offer downloadable images of their products!
Basically saying “never mind that we have inconvenienced and confused you everywhere else …”
Okay, so what five things can we learn from this site that are applicable to our church and charity websites?
Taking a page out of the pulpit, let’s try to remember these items using the acrostic “K.N.I.F.E.”
- Know – Figure out who these honest users are and speak to them, rather than ignore their needs to threaten the idiots.
- Navigate – Don’t make your users have to think. Instead, make sure your menus, page titles and hyperlinks work consistently and easily.
- Invite – On the web, overdone copyright paranoia translates to honest users as unusable and annoying.
- Find – Determine what are you trying to get the person to do when they visit your site, then lead them to that goal.
- Examine – You’re not your user, so don’t assume that your message and/or navigation schema will make sense without engaging in some user and use case testing.
By the way, a bit hat tip to long time, Ã¼ber HYCW cult member, Don Elbourne. As a result of his input, he’s being elevated to “level 5” status with all rights, privileges and honors that go along with said rank.
Don offers several sites worth visiting including: