Design vs. Development
8 comments | Posted: 19 December 05 in General, by Robert Evans
You may be thinking to yourself that this title, Design versus Development doesn’t make sense. You may be thinking that design and development are the same thing. After all, we as designers may consider ourselves as developers. However, I don’t think that churches adequately understand the difference between the two.
You may hear the familiar phrase “Wow! That website looks great!” A website may indeed look fantastic, but how does it function? Does it reach its intended audience? Is it cross browser supported? Is it accessible? Is the code semantically written for search engine optimization? Most importantly, how does the website fit the image of the church it is representing?
I feel too often churches look at websites and focus in on how it looks rather than how it functions for the church. To me, this doesn’t make much sense. Let me give you an analogy to better explain why I feel this way. When a church builds its physical building and designs its landscape, is it the sole focus of the church? Hardly. The real purpose of the church is not what you see from the outside, but what you hear on the inside, the Gospel Message being preached.
Let’s think about this for a moment. What type of work goes into effectively presenting the Gospel message each and every service? Are there microphones so that the audience can hear the message? Does the pastor prepare his sermon? Has the pastor been trained to preach? Does the pastor spend his time studying the Word of God and in prayer to effectively teach those who come to hear him speak?
How much of this is seen by the people who just take a glance at the church? Most likely these ‘behind the scenes’ preparations aren’t readily seen by the public. This is what I call the Development aspect. It is the preparation that goes into presenting the message of God effectively.
What does this have to do with web development? Everything. This simple analogy teaches us that what we don’t see, the preparation and the behind the scenes work that takes place is more important than the physical looks of the church itself. The Church lives and dies by the message, not the look of the building.
Now, let’s not get the wrong idea here. The design of the church and the landscape has their importance and place. The Design is what helps draw people to the church; it welcomes them in to attend the church and see what it is all about. I highly doubt that people would flock to a church, in America, that is beaten up and shows that no one takes care of it. The problem lies with the fact that we in America are driven by materialistic ideals. It is a fact that people, maybe not all, will judge a book by its cover, even without realizing it. I am not trying to condemn those who put an importance on the aesthetic appeal; rather I am taking the approach of being aware of the known, and using it to the church’s advantage.
The point that I am trying to make with this article is that design should never take priority over development and development without design doesn’t work either. A church should not simply look at a website that is created for them and say, “Wow! That looks great!” The church should respond by asking how does it function? Does it reach its intended audience? Is it cross browser supported? Is it accessible? Is the code semantically written for search engine optimization? Most importantly, how does the website fit the image of the church it is representing?
If a church’s website is:
- Aesthetically Appealing
- Reaches its intended audience
- Cross browser supported so more people can view the site
- Accessible for all viewers including those who are disabled
- Semantically written for better search engine placement and marketing
- Fits the needs and extends the reach of the Church
—Then I say the website is a success!
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