We have an assignment from a two churches in Connecticut to redesign their sites. The current sites have awful colors and don't really do a good job of communicating the vibrancy and diversity
Desired Color Scheme:
easy to read, easy to navigate, uncluttered, and straight ahead. we use the book "Don't Make Me Think" to evaluate the ease of use of site design.
Accepted File Formats:
.psd or html
Let me begin my saying that of the last 100 church websites I looked at there were zero that stood out for being well designed, easy to navigate, information rich and inviting. That's the bad news because there isn't much out there to refer to. The good news is that for the designer who can figure out how to do Church sites well, you will never go hungry because there is alot of need for a good design out there.
Mine is a fairly simple project and I believe the challenges are typical of a small community site, whether it is the any church, or the local Rotary club, or any non-profit organization. All of these kinds of sites are trying to:
1. communicate to the members what has happened lately in the church (we had a speaker, a social, a fundraiser, or a sacrament like First Communion)
2. communicate to prospective members the kinds of programs that are available (music programs, youth programs, bible camp, etc.)
3. help members get the schedule of upcoming activities quickly and easily (mass schedule, holiday schedule, choir schedule, etc.)
4. show off some of the events with members having a good time, doing good works, coming together as a community
5. show the clergy and the leaders in the community so that people know who to contact
I think that often in Church design we as designers focus on symbolism. This can be good and it can be bad. For example, there are specific colors for each of the liturgical seasons in the Church. Every color has significance but designing a web site around these colors has the potential for making a site confusing and unreadable. I have seen so many churches use Medieval frescos and mosaics or stained glass on their websites. Stained glass and mosaics do not always translate well to the computer screen.
Likewise, we have the icons and symbols. I believe that there is a desire in alot of Church websites to pile on symbols of the crucifix, the lamb of God, the Holy Family and the Saints. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. Be careful here.
For example, I know that on the cover of my church bulletin, for example, there is a drawing of a saint and a drawing of the Church building. I don't know what purpose either of those serve. I am not joining a building, I am joining a community. And, if I don't know who that saint is or what he is doing then I probably don't identify with him either.
What this means for this design exercise is that I'd like you to make a clean and inviting site that shows the diversity of the community and the range of activities available, that I'd like to respect all of the best practices we've learned in corporate web design instead of falling into the conventions and cliches of traditional church design. I don't want it to be cliche.
Both of these churches I am assisting here are in affluent communities with residents who are well-educated and sophisticated users of the web. I would estimate that 90% of the parish have broadband connections and use the web frequently. We are not trying to entertain with this website, but to inform in an elegant manner.
I'd like to call your attention to these five Church websites to use as a reference for the CONTENT and NAVIGATION that we'll need on this page:
You should make your design as a Photoshop File using layers, able to be sliced up into HTML and making use of Cascading Style Sheets. We expect that once we have picked a winner that we can get that design sent to us both ways, .PSD and HTML. If you are not capable of translating your design to HTML then please indicate that in the comments next to your entry and we'll have to figure that out between us but it is not a big deal.
I also created the design contest for Paper.com that is going on now at Sitepoint. You will see that I am used to giving a tremendous of feedback once I start seeing designs and I will help some of the better early entries to refine their designs toward what we are looking for.