trendy vs. functional website

The answer, as you have probably guessed, is that it can be both if done if done correctly. Let’s talk about how that can be done.

Being in the church web design industry, we look at a LOT of church websites, and have noticed something that is a bit concerning. Sometimes, people opt for the trendy, striking look for a website instead of making sure it does its job – to give people the information they are looking for.

if you wear short skirts you get your femininity back.

Trends in web design come and go just as they do in fashion. Remember some of the styles from the 1950’s? They were all a huge hit back then, but then they changed. Each decade has its own set of “trendy” clothes. And so it goes with web design, the trends are changing all the time, and not always for the better.

What are some of the more common trends today in church websites?

Slideshows

The big, full-screen slideshows are in. And while we like the look of the bigger wide website and use it , there can be a couple of problems to be aware of.

First, to make this look work, the church needs to have someone who can take high quality pictures and has somewhat of an “eye” for the lens. If you have lower quality photos in this area, it immediately brings the quality of the entire site down. The top slider area is the first thing people will notice and will shape the impression they have of the rest of the site, along with their impression of your church. So, you have to be sure your church is the right fit for this look.

Secondly, most people will only sit through a few slides before they move on to the rest of the site. So, be sure to keep the slideshow manageable and have your most important slides first so they are more likely to be seen.

Parallax

Paralax is a technique web designers use for more interesting scrolling effects.  The parallax section has a background picture which moves slower than the rest of the page is moving during scrolling.

Parallax can offer a very striking design, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Parallax uses more images which can slow down your page loading speed. This can be frustrating to your visitiors.
  • It may not be as “mobile responsive” as it should be, meaning it doesn’t look as good or function well on different sized devices, such as a phone or tablet, as it does on a laptop or desktop.
  • It can be overwhelming to your visitors if you use too much parallax effect as it has the tendency to create mile-long homepages with lots of images.

Videos

Videos can be used effectively to give your web visitors a personal look at your church before they actually visit. Many church websites provide videos of the worship or the pastor giving a welcome message. This can be a benefit to someone who has never been to the church as it gives them a close-up look at it. However, again, as with anything, videos can be “too much of a good thing” if not kept to a reasonable length and amount.

Sensational Effect

The sensational effect has become more and more common among church websites, and while, it might have a place on part of the website, it should not be the overriding theme.

We feel a church site should be very attractive (and can be trendly) and offer interest to the visitor, but at the same time be very functional. While all of these trends can add interest and excitement to a site, don’t sacrifice functionality and clarity for them. It is essential that someone visiting your church website can easily find what they came looking for, and are not confused about where to look or overwhelmed with images.

14 Comments

  1. Trisha Walker on July 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    I am always going to with functional, but I am old school all the way. Great tips!

    • dlchurch on July 14, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Thanks Trisha. I think we can have a nice combination of functional with a little trendy.

  2. Kristen Wilson on July 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I agree… both.. it has to be trendy.. or rather, MODERN and UP to DATE.. but also functional and easy to manage through. Too many folks just don’t get it. And btw.. I HATE Parallax sites.. they are lame and you are making the consumer work too hard by scrolling and if they click on the navigation the screens jump and that’s not great for the eyes.

    • dlchurch on July 15, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Hi Kristen,

      Yes, parallax can have its place but it has become very overdone. You want to give your visitors the information they are looking for quickly and without being annoying:-)

  3. Candess M. Campbell on July 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Clearly you understand how to develop websites. When I think about who would be looking for a church, I imagine they would be wanting community and possibly some emotional help. Capturing the emotion in the site would seem to be important whether trendy or functional. Great tips for any website.

    • dlchurch on July 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Hi Candess,

      Thank you! We have immersed ourselves in this area and feel we can offer help to churches who need an online presence. We appreciate your thoughts.

  4. Alene Geed on July 15, 2016 at 11:54 am

    These are good points for any web site. I like the idea of videos but agree they should be under one minute. I would sooner watch 2-3 videos of shorter length than one longer one. Clean and functional works best

    • dlchurch on July 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Hi Alene,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m with you, would much rather watch multiple shorter videos than one long one. And yes, a website needs to have an uncluttered design and function well on any size device.

  5. Tandy on July 15, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    I agree. I think you can have BOTH trendy and functional. It’s important to be able to be viewed on mobile devices. I like the slide show idea. My church uses this functionality very effectively.

    • dlchurch on July 15, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Tandy. Yes, today it is essential that your website looks good and functions well on any size device. Slide shows are great, as long as they don’t go on and on:-)

  6. Robin on July 15, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Love the thoughts, and agree sometimes too much effort is spent on look. Love being able to find what I am looking for on my church website, and find they fall short in two areas: Updating content, and calendar information. The design was so splashy that maintenance is not happening. All this said . . To God be the Glory, and let Him lead the process.

    • dlchurch on July 15, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Amen, Robin.

      We do find, too, that many times churches do not keep the site updated with fresh content and pictures. They get busy. But it’s so important, both to the members of the church as well as newcomers. If new visitors see an outdated website, they may think there’s not much going on at the church.

  7. Carol Rundle on July 16, 2016 at 9:57 am

    This is great, basic website advice for not just churches, but every type of business. Unless your website’s purpose is to entertain people, most people go to a website looking for information. Thanks for presenting this so succinctly.

    • dlchurch on July 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thanks Carol. You’re right, it doesn’t matter what type of website you have, it has to work well and be easy to find the information you want. I think we’ve all had the experience of clicking on a link in a search and landing on a site that was very confusing. We don’t stay there long!

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