Monday, December 24, 2007

The 12 Days of Jesus Junk

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 10 - Moses Action Figure

12 days of Jesus Junk - day 10 - Moses Action FigureFrom

On the 10th day of kitschmas my webmaster threw down on me - 10 Moses Action Figures (all clutching tablets of the 10 commandments in their patented kung-fu grip!).

Seriously, todays wandering into ‘Wadi Crapola‘ was made a bit amusing by some of the descriptions given for this particular item. Of note:

Recreate theTen Commandments with this 5 1/4″ hard plastic Moses Action Figure. It has moving arms and legs, as well as removeable shepherd’s staff and stone tablets. Moses info on the package too! - Giftoplois

A description that is only topped by this one:

The story of Moses has more action than a James Bond movie. Miracles, murder, plagues, escape, betrayal - his life was filled with dramatic events and exciting adventures. With our 5-1/4″ tall, hard plastic Moses Action Figure you can recreate the entire epic saga in the comfort of your own home.

Use the removeable shepherd’s staff and stone tablets to punish your roommate with God’s plagues or deliver the Ten Commandments to your little green army men. Comes with interesting Moses info on the back of his card. -

For me however, I’d suggest buying this Torah Toy as an object lesson in … wait for it …

… a reminder to read my classic article entitled:

Here are the first three just to whet your whistle:

  1. You shall have no text other than your church’s name, denomination, city and state correctly spelled tags of your church’s in between the home page.
  2. You shall not make for your self webpage description and keywords meta tags that contain key words that are not related to your church’s ministries, purpose and personality.
  3. You shall have no text other than your church’s name, denomination, city and state correctly spelled in between the tag in the header of your church’s home page - even if you are using some form of CSS text/image replacement.

Now go be doers of the word, rather than mere readers!

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 9 - 9″ Plush Long Arm Religious Gorillas

9 inch Plush Long Arm Religious GorillasOn the 9th day of Christmas my webmaster gave to me, a 9″ Plush Long Arm Religious Gorilla!

Oh how I wish I were making this one up today. I mean talk about a John 11:35 moment - what in the name of all that’s Christmas does a day-glow colored gorilla have to do with anything related to the birth, life and death of our Savior?

That said, I think the colorful string of hominidae hangers do at least offer us an excellent object lesson to those new to church website design:

Don’t go ape over new technologies just for the sake of implementing them!

Here are 9 wretched examples, from memory, I’ve encountered where the church webmaster made a monkey out of their website with some new gizmo or gadget they encountered:

  1. gratuitous flash animations & navigation
  2. cursed cursor trailers
  3. spinning animated crosses
  4. page swipes & animated marquees
  5. dhtml snowflakes drifting down the screen
  6. pop-up and pop-under windows
  7. cursed cursor trailers
  8. disabled right-click
  9. rainbow colored dividers & title text

Please don’t do this. Yes they effects are all cool … for about the first five seconds, after that, they tend to drive your users away.

Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That is, don’t be afraid to use various technologies, just make sure there is a legitimate need.

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 8 - Elvis Christmas 8 Track Tape

Elvis' Christmas Album 8 Track Stereo TapeOn the 8th day of Christmas my webmaster played for me - an 8 track of Elvis singing my not-so-favorite Christmas tunes.

Yup, nothing croons the sacred event of our Savior’s birth like the original culture king singing such greats as:

  • Blue Christmas,
  • Santa Claus is back in Town,
  • Santa Bring my Baby Back,
  • Here comes Santa Claus,
  • White Christmas

Now before you Gracelanders go all ballistic on me, this former opera singer actually enjoys most of Elvis’ stylings. So why then the kvetch about the 8 track as Christmas kitsch?

Mostly to use a crufty old recording-playback medium to point out how often I stumble across a church or charity website whose content is equally crufty.

For those who don’t speak ancient geek, crufty is defined in “the Jargon file” as:

crufty /kruhf´tee/ adj. - [very common; origin unknown; poss. from ‘crusty’ or ‘cruddy’]

  1. Poorly built, possibly over-complex. The canonical example is “This is standard old crufty DEC software”. In fact, one fanciful theory of the origin of crufty holds that was originally a mutation of ‘crusty’ applied to DEC software so old that the ‘s’ characters were tall and skinny, looking more like ‘f’ characters.
  2. Unpleasant, especially to the touch, often with encrusted junk. Like spilled coffee smeared with peanut butter and catsup.
  3. Generally unpleasant.
  4. (sometimes spelled cruftie) n. A small crufty object (see frob); often one that doesn’t fit well into the scheme of things. “A LISP property list is a good place to store crufties (or, collectively, random cruft).

This term is one of the oldest in the jargon and no one is sure of its etymology, but it is suggestive that there is a Cruft Hall at Harvard University which is part of the old physics building; it’s said to have been the physics department’s radar lab during WWII. To this day (early 1993) the windows appear to be full of random techno-junk. MIT or Lincoln Labs people may well have coined the term as a knock on the competition.

A point re-emphasized by noted usability expert, Jakob Nielsen whom effectively asserts in his June 27th article entitled “Change vs. Stability in Web Usability Guidelines” that translates to the rest of us that ‘the Web still rocks like it’s 1999!’

How about you? Is your church web site up-to-date in terms of the interface, the data, the markup and the message implements? Or like the website for the First Freewill Baptist Church of Union City Georgia, does your church website imply that you’ve been partying like it’s 1999?

My point? Even though the tunes on the Elvis 8 track are timeless, who is going to hear them now? Likewise with your church website. Just because the message of the Gospel is ageless doesn’t mean the same applies to the data and technologies used to convey your organizations web presence.

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 7 - Walking With Jesus Playing Cards

On the 7th day of Jesus Junk my webmaster equipped me with everything I needed to take a good beating during a youth ministry Texas Hold’em lock in with a pack of Walking With Jesus’ Playing Cards. And speaking of betting the house, let’s complain a bit about all Flash websites - as like gambling, it seems there are quite a few church webmaster addicted to this plugin.

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 6 - Jesus Saves Goose Leg Bands

How you convey your church or charity’s message is as important as what you say. Case in point, the Christmas Kitsch otherwise known as the ‘unique “Jesus Saves” goose leg band’ … available on E-Bay for $12.99! Compare this ill-gotten approach with your church website conversion goals.

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 5 - Jesus Pencil Toppers

On the 5th day of kitschmas my webmaster was struck down by G*d. Why? How about the idolatry (or blasphemy) known as “Jesus Pencil Toppers” and the faux navigation they objectify.

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 4 - Jesus Loves me Kazoos

On the 4th day of Christmas my webmaster brought to me, four neon colored kazoos! Yes folks, even if your singing sounds like an injured cat in a trash can, you can still harmonize with that “Mitt Romney sings your Favorite Carols with the Mormon Tabernacle” album your great aunt bought you back in 1987 when you’re equipped with one of these cheap, plastic “Jesus Loves me kazoos” pictured to the right:

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 3 - Inflatable Nativity

On the 3rd day of Christmas my webmaster gave to me, three inflatable nativities. 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. Which brings me to my topic of image bloat …

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 …

12 Days of Jesus Junk - Day 1 - Life-like Baby Jesus

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 plagues our over-commercialized culture with a series I’m calling: The 12 Days of Jesus Junk

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