On the 3rd day of Christmas my webmaster gave to me, three inflatable nativities (see enumerated image below !-)
Yes folks, nothing bring to life the miraculous birth of our Savior like some pudgy latex airbag glowing in front of your house at night.
Of course I’m being sarcastic. I mean c’mon, what’s more out of context:
- the comfy inflatable pillow beneath the baby Jesus’ head 1;
- the slightly obese Mary and Joseph (apparently no shortage of eats at the inn) 2; or
- the blizzard like conditions 3?
Obvious anachronisms aside, I’ve actually selected these bloated lawn-blimps to remind us of yet another aspect of church websites that are as equally irritating as the neighbor who positions all three of these flightless dirigibles so that their blinding glow comes pouring into your bedroom window all night.
Yes folks, I’m talking about Image Bloat - a plague so annoying that I’m told it has the potential to turn Internet seekers into flying spaghetti monster worshiping pastafarians due to the long load times of enormous images. Or as Father Flanders put it in his now famous sermon for Sunday, July 13, 2003:
Just because Jesus miraculously turned water into wine doesn’t mean he can miraculously turn your 1280- x 1024-pixel image whose file size is 1.8Mb into an image whose file size is only 74Kb just because you changed the WIDTH= and HEIGHT= attributes to WIDTH=”420″ and HEIGHT=”336″.
In other words, one of the big problems I see with so many church websites are poorly optimized graphics - so let me make this point very loud and clear:
Reducing the height and width attributes of the tag does not, I repeat DOES NOT, physically reduce the physical size of the file. Nor does it reduce the size of the image via “color reduction.”
But rather than bore you with the math behind shaving minutes of download time to seconds by a little bit of optimization and color reduction, I’m just going to suggest 2 free solutions that will help get you started in the right direction:
- Quick Thumbnail: a software as a service that helps you resize images online
- IrfanView: a client application that also helps you both resize and crop your images
Either one will help you get the job done, and help you avoid overweight images that impede your visitors browsers slower than the idiot driving in front of you at 5mph to see some 12-foot inflatable Nativity scene that is equipped with a squeaky MIDI rendition of “Let it Snow!”12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 2 - Jesus Night Lights
Yes folks, it’s day two of our 12 step … I mean 12 day bloganalia of Jesus junk, that crufty commercialized crap that so cheapens our faith, to the point of giving us equally crummy websites. With that, let us all sing in roaring voice:
On the second day of Christmas my webmaster bought for me, two translucent acrylic night lights!
Y’know, when Jesus proclaimed in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world, I don’t quite think he was referring to the tacky frosted plastic Jesus night light even if the latter does serve “as a calming and restful bedside nightlight.”
And regardless of one’s opinion regarding the mother of God, I’m not so sure reducing Mary to an electronic appliance is all that great of a reminder of her part in the Annunciation and birth of our Savior either.
Here’s my point: in both your nocturnal illuminations and your church website, take care of the image you present of Christ in pictures, sermons and videos.
As such may be the only Jesus a seeker sees and remembers, make sure it’s not an el cheapo vision.12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 1 - Life-like Baby Jesus
On the first day of Christmas my webmaster bought for me, an “Away In A Manger Collectible Baby Jesus Pageant Lifelike Doll.”
Yes folks with Christmas 12 days from today it is time to take some time out from web design and enjoy the spirit of the season. And what better way to do that then to give coverage to the carnival of “kristian kitsch” that so corrupts our over-commercialized culture with a series I’m calling:
The 12 Days of Jesus Junk
Now for many of you newer readers here, Jesus Junk is a term I sometimes use here to describe the ultra-cheap clip-art and gimmicks that we sometimes find on well-meaning but cut-rate-looking church and charity websites. Y’know, like that clichéd gold lamé animated gif of a spinning cross that screams “everything I know about website design I learned from Strong Bad!“.
Anyway, for some holiday fun, I figure why not poke some fun at the gift-shop culture that some times creeps into our website design - by highlighting some of the more hilarious examples of junk sold in the name of Jesus.
For example, today’s example which is pitched with the following description:
It’s time for the Christmas Pageant, and everyone has a part to play, even this sweet baby boy - he’s playing the Baby Jesus! This very special lifelike collectible Baby Jesus pageant doll was created by renowned doll artist Waltraud Hanl exclusively for Ashton-Drake.
What a unique way to bring the inspiring story of the Nativity to life for your family and friends!This collectible vinyl doll is expertly crafted, with soft RealTouch™ vinyl skin, reddish-brown hand-applied hair, and realistic fingernails and toenails. He’s dressed in a Christmas pageant “costume” of red cotton fabric with gold trim, and arrives in his own little manger made of real wood, complete with straw! Just imagine the happiness he’ll bring to your home! Order Now!
Now having sung a few operas and performed in variety of plays, I can certainly agree that it is far easier to work with an inanimate doll over a live baby any day. That said, I think this particular item is being a bit oversold as stage lights, swaddling cloth and story lines generally make the differences between a $220 and $22 doll unnoticeable.
I suggest the same may be true with those who get hung up on expensive overkill on their church websites, like hiring someone to get your message out in an all in Flash-based website, where more text-centric HTML will do.