Let’s face it, most parish websites are pretty awful – and I don’t mean full of awe. A lot of it has to do with throwing up an online billboard or having created a site 5 to 10 years ago and not having updated it. Whatever the reason, a lot of our parish websites are in need of help.
So here are questions for you to help change the situation. Answer as many or few as you are able.
1. What are some parish websites that did it right?
2. How is your parish website? What does it do well? How could it be improved?
3. What is required for a parish website to be considered “good”?
4. What should a parish site definitely avoid?
5. What has a parish site done that really made you say “Wow!” – good or bad?
Please don’t be shy – your answers could help parish website developers as they search the web for answers.
I commented thusly:
When I visit a parish website -- either my own or one I've never visited before -- there is usually one of two reasons (or both, I suppose) why I do so:
1. To find out Mass and confession times
2. To find out about upcoming events
I'd be willing to bet that a not insignificant percentage of people who visit parish websites do so for the same primary reasons.
In my opinion, then, a parish website should display these things on their home page in such a way that they're impossible to miss.
Now, on the other hand, I have numerous pet peeves about certain website features generally, which I think should be avoided. Here's a partial list:
1. Intro pages -- useability studies consistently show people don't like them.
2. Pages/features that don't load properly in Firefox (due to the webmaster only testing them in IE). Friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer.
3. Flash animation -- it's annoying. Plus, for users who have Flash Block (a Firefox add-on), it doesn't show up.
4. Playing music (even if it's good music) immediately upon opening a page -- far more annoying than Flash animation.
5. Dead links due to the webmaster moving a page and failing to include redirect code on the old page -- I'm told this is one of the cardinal sins of web design. This has happened to me twice recently whilst looking for articles on Catholic Exchange, and I find it maddening. (After that I tried the Wayback Machine, but struck out there too.)