LifeQuest Church – a real turkey of a web site

Cute is a description I usually reserve for my 8 year old daughter – not a church website. Yet ‘cute but no cigar‘ is the mangled metaphor that came to mind when I saw the turkey that is the church website for the LifeQuest of Palm City, FL – as reflected in the kitschy screen show below:

LifeQuest Church Turkey
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. After waiting about 8 seconds on a DSL line for the Flash animation to load I was hit with a flying turkey, much the same way StrongBad is hit in the face with a fist in his humorous web design tutorial simply entitled “Email 51 – Website.”

But the bloat doesn’t end there! No folks, after being made to wait an additional 4 to 6 seconds on a DSL line, any and every visitor gets to figure out they must click of the encircled ‘X’ to remove the pop-up that obscures the main menu as pictured below:

LifeQuest Church main menu w/popup

Such is the Flashination I continue to find afflicting the great could of witlessness that is the Church online. Why? I’m not sure – perhaps it is an over abundance of graphic artists – or perhaps that too many programmers have yet to see the light.

Whatever the reason, here’s five things I would be concerned of regarding designs such as that of the LifeQuest of Palm City, Florida:

  1. Rendering text using graphic images, or in this case Flash, makes one’s website much less visible to search engines than using text to represent text;
  2. Most usability experts agree that 8 seconds as the maximum time one can make a user wait – and then only for the most compelling of content;
  3. Flash-based websites have a high cost of back-end operation when it comes to affecting changes, additions or modifications to layout and content;
  4. Putting a pop-up in front of the main menu is like putting big huge planters in front of the doors of the church on Sunday morning – it gets in the way of visitors and members alike;
  5. Make it easy for visitors to visit – put the directions somewhere conspicuous – and link it up with a main menu choice that is intuitive, like one that reads “directions.”

There are other elements but I think this is enough to make the point – it a church website ain’t no stinkin’ art project – quit treating it like one.

Tomorrow – go visit when I write on why I think it better to visit the Hashemite Kingdom than the Magic Kingdom (fun article currently under construction).