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We suggest that you visit the Central Presbyterian Church web site 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 feedback@hartsem.edu.


Central Presbyterian Church
ReviewOur immediate impression of this site is that it is a treasure trove of information. Not only do you come away from Centrals' site knowing the congregation’s diverse facets intimately, but along the way you can learn valuable facts about church web design, the Presbyterian Renewal movement, youth ministry sites, and a host of Christian parachurch organizations.

This site has all the necessary components for an excellent congregational web site. Anything a visitor might need to know about this church is available here, including a wonderfully informal yet informative guide for persons wanting to visit their worship service.

A great strength of this site was the amount of web space devoted to missions, from mission trip reports to opportunities for service, and from a link to their sister church in Sao Paolo, Brazil to links of the web sites of many of the missions and parachurch organizations they support. This emphasis is an obvious outgrowth of the congregation’s commitment to "sending [believers] out to serve."up

Another treasure of this rich site is the Web Site Ministry FAQ. Not only does this section describe in detail how a congregation might go about creating a site that supports a church’s vision and mission, but its authors provide suggestions and links helpful for the task. This FAQ is so informative that we have added it to our web site’s list of links in the "designing church sites" section.

This site strives to reflect the mission of the congregation in a content-rich manner without glitz or glamour or the latest technological gimmicks. The pages are simply coding, light on images, and solid in their design for different browsers, systems, and screen resolutions.

In some ways this is also one of the few weaknesses of the site – it de-emphasizes visual appeal in favor of content. This is apparently an intentional strategy by the web design team, as stated in the web FAQ "…remember that people are very forgiving and will spend their time reading even the ugliest, most frustrating sites if the sites have something that they are interested in. We're not advocating carelessness or poor design but rather the idea that ultimately, content is more important than looks, or even design" (their emphasis).

While for the most part we agree with this statement, we advocate careful planning of all three of these essential components of a congregation’s site: content, design andup looks. Central Presbyterian’s front page is pleasant, almost functioning as a site map, but the look and navigational design doesn’t adequately convey the wealth of the treasure a visitor has entered into, nor (judging from the prayer lists, sermons, mission trip reports, and youth writings) the strength of its powerful community life. Pictures, images, and attractive graphics can help to evoke this congregation’s culture and convey the loving yet committed tone of the group.

In navigating the site, we found ourselves having to continually return to the home page to enter a new section rather than being able to link horizontally and directly between all the sections of the site.

While we are fond of the background, after reading several of the text heavy sermon pages we found our eyes straining to read the text. Perhaps a shift to a white background for text documents or an easy way to download or print out the sermon would help.

Finally, we thought this excellent site could be improved by creating more interactive features for the congregational members and the many users of its content. For instance, a discussion area for church web masters might enhance the web FAQ section. We could envision a Christian poetry discussion group or a moderated discussion about mission outreach and how to stimulate and nurture these activities in other congregations.

Overall, this is a fine site which hasn’t lost the true focus of its web ministry. As it says in its own words,

"Our website may be nice, but the real heart and soul of Central still awaits your personal on-site visit."





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