Christ Church Alexandrias' Web Site
We suggest that you visit the web site for Christ Church Alexandria and tour around it for a while. Then come back and read the review. Feel free to write us with your comments or criticisms at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christ Church Alexandria, located in Virginia, is a beautiful and historic Episcopal Church, rich in tradition with a web site that reflects the same. The clean lines and simple colors illustrate the congregation’s attempt to preserve its heritage and reflect the traditional ideals upon which the church was founded. However, you mustn’t be deceived by the lack of twirling images or flashing mail envelopes. Christ Church is very much up to speed in providing essential electronic outreach to their community and making sure their web site serves members and the public at large.
As we frequently discuss in our web reviews, congregational web sites need to be informative while maintaining attractiveness and functionality. An equal balance of these is important in providing the visitor with an experience of the church's culture and atmosphere yet allowing for essential information to be easily found and read. Christ Church has accomplished these imperatives quite well by carefully detailing the congregation’s ministry, purpose, history, needs, and involvement opportunities. The Christ Church leadership has taken the time to carefully describe the church’s objectives and post them on their site. Visitors get a clear sense of what this congregation expects before they walk through the doors. This approach should assist the church with finding committed members who understand both the unique dynamics of this congregation and their responsibilities in it.
The Christ Church web site also provides detailed information that both visitors and members may be looking for, such as explaining how to get involved, a listing of current events, and the giving standards for the church. The site makes it quite obvious that Christ Church has had, and continues to have, a strong presence within the Washington DC community and the Episcopal denomination. Not only do they provide extensive material about the church’s illustrious history but they also show the congregation’s efforts to have an effect on contemporary life by an extensive listing of member services, mission activities, and general outreach programs.
As fine as this site is, we did find several points where improvements could be made. We liked the pull-down navigational bar across the top of the page, but found that if the pull-down didn’t work in the browser then there was no way to get to a second level page for the "Visitors", "Worship" and "Ministries" sections. In terms of navigation aids we would also recommend that the left bar include a "site map" and a "search the site" link. We might also suggest that several of the links to further information on the "Visitors - Welcome" section be more strategically placed – perhaps also on the left bar.
We found some lack of labeling and heading consistency within the sections of the site. For instance in the Ministries section, some titles of ministries change between pages. One such page offers a link to "Outreach" but that page opens it is titled "Ministries" which may be confusing to someone who just left a page called "Ministries." Another consistency note for these pages is regarding the hyperlinked listing of ministries or programs at the top of each page and the information it provides below. The informative descriptions do not always follow the same order as the list, which may be a problem for those scrolling down the page. Even with these difficulties, the site excels in content that describes the church’s offerings to its members and the community.
There are a few basic stylistic items that will also improve the site. The first issue is around consistency in identifying what is a hyperlink and what isn’t. We strongly encourage sites not to underline text unless it is a link. We would also encourage a site not to make its bolded headers in text colors similar to its hyperlinks. These are very common mistakes that mildly hinder, and occasionally irritate, a visitor’s involvement with a site. Another simple addition to the site that would provide a more pleasant experience would be to use "up" arrows on long content rich pages. Giving your visitor the opportunity to return to the top of the page quickly is a simple effort that will be much appreciated. Finally we think a greater use of photos, both of the staff, the members at worship and the building would increase the conveyance of the congregation’s rich cultural heritage.
Overall, Christ Church has an impressive web site both visually and textually. The church should be congratulated on placing a great importance on its web presence. Christ Church seems to have acknowledged the web site as an important religious resource both for its members and its cyber-visitors.