Don't be disillusioned. Along the way that brought you to website ministry, you might have heard someone say that "anyone can create a web page". That may be true...but you'll soon understand that website designers are leagues apart. Yes...as in T-Ball on up to professional baseball. Website design is only easy when it's performed at its lowest level of potential.
So what do you do to get your site into the "big leagues"?
It helps to understand that there are two aspects to web design. One is a visual aspect: creating a site that's looks appealing with sophisticated graphics and intuitive navigation.
The other aspect is technological: creating optimized pages and graphics for efficient downloads and display; knowing basic web technology; and familiarity with advanced or enhanced technologies that should be implemented.
It isn't too difficult realize that these two aspects can typically involve two very different types of people. For the visually oriented person, the technology can be intimidating. But take a look at a few programmer's websites and you'll realize that most programmers are just as far behind in design and communication savvy.
You need to recognize that you can't be an expert in every area of web design. This business requires specialists in order to fully explore the potential in website development. Not every website needs a specialized programmer, but it will do you good to know when to hand the ball off to a specialist.
So now what?
You need to begin by focusing your website. Who is your audience? What do you hope to accomplish through the site?
For churches, unless you only want business executives (with T1 connections) to view your church website, you'll need to plan on making the site easily accessible to slow and fast connections.
Your most important information/navigation needs to be visible at the top of the page. Many people will view your webpages through a small monitor, so you must think "above the fold" as they say in the newspaper biz. That space should be in the neighborhood of 640 x 480 pixels.
Use a limited palette of colors. A few colors can go a really long way. Don't think in terms of your favorite or least favorite colors. Just make sure they support your message and tell your story.
White space helps the reader's eyes focus on what's important - whether that's an image or words. It helps unclutter your design and focus your concept.
Make sure the level of technology you decide to use works with the overall goals of your page. Keep it simple. Keep it smart.
We all need to stay abreast of who our potential visitors are. Pew Internet Research conducted a survey recently defining "religion surfers". Check out their report and consider what it means to the type of content and navigation you put on your site.
Stay on the Circuit Ride and we'll help you improve your skills!