Archive

Posts Tagged ‘website’

The ludicrous case of the lost links

January 21st, 2010

Do you ever visit web sites only to find that the page you wanted is missing? It happens when web masters (web slaves – or whatever you want to call them) either move a page so the site is less cluttered or because a page is now so out of date that a new one is required. If you change from a static site to a dynamic site (html to php or something) then you will inevitably mess up every link that existed prior to the change. Sometimes, of course, the link was never right in the first place.

So there are a couple of things it is wise to do to avoid such problems:

1) Be careful with your links and do your best to make sure they work – perhaps have a rolling program of checking your links (there is software that will do this and if you sign up for Google webmaster tools you get a report on duff links but my experience is that they are never perfect).

2) Set up a special 404 page. You can see the one I have made for this web site here (opens in new window). It is just a very simple page and you could put in a lot more detail (make sure you use absolute URLs though – e.g. full web address to any images etc. There are various ways of setting your site to use these pages and most good hosting companies will have a way to enable this to happen. Here is a way to do it if you are looking for the technical stuff (opens in new window).

So, there are ways around the problem and it pays to put in that little bit of extra effort to help your visitors.

Thoughts , , , , ,

Things people never complain about

November 4th, 2009

14493687When you start designing websites you will discover that everyone is an expert. You will even find your in-laws have read an article on web design in the local newspaper and they will be happy to tell you about their findings over dinner. Even the bloke who walks his dog past your house everyday will have some snippet of wisdom on web design to pass on to you if you ask him. Don’t ask me how everyone got to be an expert.

Of course what you will also discover is that they know squat about web design and what really happened was that they managed to put a picture up on facebook and so now consider themselves an expert.

All these experts will be complaining about your websites (of course no one ever complains about any of mine, ahem!).

However there are some things that people will never complain about and here are a few of them:

  • Your site is too easy to navigate
  • Your site is too quick to load
  • It’s too easy to find information on your site
  • Your design doesn’t get in the way of the content enough
  • You don’t have enough flashing images on your site
  • I was hoping I would have to download the latest plugin to view your site.
  • Your contact details were too easy to find
  • I really miss that revolving globe/flying dove/3d cross/etc you used to have on your site

So to avoid complaints take note from these compliments that you will never receive.

What other complaints do you think no one is ever going to make?

web building ,

Convincing the committee that your church needs a website

September 29th, 2009

So you think your church/organsiation should have a church web site but you need some help to support the idea when you present it. Here are some important points to back you up.

Point 1: The Internet is increasingly the way that people find out information

Research shows that people are using the printed Yellow Pages less and less whilst Internet advertising and usage increases.

See http://searchengineland.com/google-trends-yellow-pages-will-be-toast-in-four-years-12256 if you doubt this.

Some have predicted that the Yellow Pages will be out of business in 4 years – I’m not so sure about that but it is certainly in decline.

Churches need to have an Internet precense to ensure that those looking for a church can find it.

Point 2: Other churches in your area already have a web site

Given todays consumer approach to church going (this is not a judgement on its merits or otherwise) people are looking for a church to attend and want information to help them make informed choices. If your church does not have a website you can be sure that other churches near you do. The information provided by these sites may encourage people to try those churches over yours. Denominational loyalties are dying out.

Point 3: 75% of Internet users are under 54

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Generations-Online-in-2009.aspx?r=1

and Internet usage now equals T.V. watching according to IBM

This means that one of the most effective ways of reaching the very people that most churches want to reach is through the Internet

Point 4: The cost of having a professionally designed web site compares very favourably with other ways of promoting your church

Web site prices start at around £500* (although there are some even cheaper alternatives). A content managed website is likely to cost in the region of £2000*. Getting a brochure designed and printed is likey to cost in the region of £2000+*. Of course a website lasts for years and can reach millions whereas many church brochures sit in cupboards for years and although they are often passed around they are limited in who they can reach.

* Note that these are U.K. prices and folk from other countries will have to adjust these

Any other ideas?

Do you have any other reasons that you could add to the list? Why not leave a comment …

websites ,

Simple designs work best

May 6th, 2009

One of the frustrations with the Internet is that it is always changing and developing. Whilst this kind of development is usually good sometimes it makes us a little lazy.
In the good old days (about 10 years ago – ancient history on the Internet) sites had to be built using the very smallest of images and the very least amount of html. As broadband becomes more and more available the stringent rules we all used to follow have become a little more relaxed. Where I once had to handcode all the html for a site I now use software and very seldom have to code a site using just html. I see this as generally a good thing.

However there is one rule that I think should always apply (and this will be forever): keep it simple.

The Internet always has been about speed. Those people who don’t mind waiting are those who are wanting to be entertained. Unless your viewers are looking for entertainment then you will have to deal with the speed issue.

From a design perspective I’ve always believed that the simple designs are the best. The design of a site is not its most important reason to exist and if your site is all design and no content people will very soon get fed up and go elsewhere. You might win an award for the way the site looks but it won’t make people use your site. You do want people to use your site don’t you?

However although I advocate simple designs I do advocate some design. The design should help people find the content. This something where an awful lot of church sites fall down.

So make sure you have a design but keep that design simple.

online ministry , ,