Don’t Be Afraid To Take Something Away

Hand removing block from a stack

If you visited the original website, you may remember when I changed the color scheme of my header image / logo . I took away the colors for the sky and ground. Why? I was doing too much and was not providing enough focus. This blog is about growing church websites. So I drew attention to just that, a growing plant. Much like fasting and isolating yourself for prayer helps you focus; taking something away from your church’s web pages can help users focus.

New Vs. Old Header
The new and old headers

Strategy First

I hate to sound like a broken record, but yet again you need to revisit your overall web strategy and your content strategy document. Your primary objectives drive what goes on your website, but often we add in other little “widgets” and call outs that distract users. WordPress (the blogging platform this site is built with) made a bold move when they made one of their themes feature no sidebar for articles. You will notice right now that there is nothing to the right of left competing for your attention. When you get to the bottom of the article, you will find some follow-on calls to action; but not until then (when you have supposedly read this article).

Help Users Focus

It is this lack of distraction that is helping you stay focused on the message. So whether you are building a new site, or examining an existing one; do not be afraid to take things out of pages. Notice I did not say delete entire sections of content, just remove the distractions from the individual pages. Provide one primary call to action. In my case I provide two; share this article with your social network, or read another related article.

Value Added

Although I provide two calls to action, they do not compete with each other; and I will be very pleased if you decide to do either one. Many websites have multiple distractions for readers. My original concept for my articles included a large sidebar of content. It was filled with many distractions that did not add any real value. So why did I put them there in the first place? First, the geek answer, because I could. Second, the insecure designer, because the white space scared me. I wanted to fill that space with clutter because it looked too barren. After further consideration, I removed many items from my sidebar. The primary focus of my page is the article. I encourage you to take a similar approach on your church website.

Action Item

Review your site and see if you can find any distractions. Ask if those call outs, banners, ads, and other distractions really add any value to the page. If you use a good layout with clean grid layout, the space will give your page elements the room they need to breathe. Plus, all of this will allow your site’s visitors to focus on the matter at hand: starting, or growing their faith in our savior, Jesus Christ.

Photo courtesy of Steve Woods

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.