Jacob's Well Church

8 comments | Posted: 16 December 05 in Featured, by Nathan Smith

URL: jacobswellchurch.org

I checked my email recently, and was pleased to see this nicely done site had been submitted for consideration. It was designed by Scott Raymond, who if you have not heard of yet was one of the people involved in making Blinksale. He’s one of those new savvy Ruby on Rails developers that are causing such a buzz around the ‘Net nowadays. Another popular Rails site is A List Apart.

Well, enough about the designer, here’s what I like about the site: It’s clean, soft and inviting. For those of you who are visiting it shortly after the date of this posting, you might say “The church building looks imposing,” but fear not. From what I can tell, the initial image is on a regularly changing schedule, and I’ve seen some other cool ones in the past few days. These header images are all done by local artists and photographers, a very cool notion. The background colors for the page also change, according to litergical season.

There are only a few minor points that keep this site from being perfect. The navigation breaks down after a few text resizes, which is no big deal because it can be scaled up a few “clicks” comfortably before the tabs start to overlap. Secondly, there are a few CSS errors, caused just by leaving off a pound sign # before colors. Aside from that, this website is pretty exemplary of what a small church website should be, an extension of the community it serves.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Yannick

    Sometimes we (me included) can get so caught up in making websites look too fancy, when all it needs is a nice clean and simple design. I think Jacob’s Well, shows that a clean and simple design can be just as good as the “fancy” ones.

    The information is well organised, images used are very nice and the navigation is nicely done also.

    One thing I didn’t particularly like though was how big the image on the home page is. The image itself is nice, however it pushes the content too far down, resulting in a user having to scroll before seeing the content. Other than that, everything else is good in my opinion.

    On a side note, I didn’t know Scott was involved with Blinksale. That is pretty neat. Keep up the good work Scott.

  2. 2 Greg Balzer

    Is Jacob’s Well the first “Web 2.0” site for a church? Not only is this website clean and standards based – but its virtual “Community” features are what really set it apart. Sure, this site has creative text that uniquely describes what it means to be a believer and a Jacob’s Well member, but this is the first site that I have seen that attempts to build community and fellowship by providing links to member Flickr and blog sites. Neat idea.

    This approach is unique and ought to help todays fragmented, post-modern believers “connect” in new ways. The site even uses member’s Flickr photos to create the page banners. Gotta wonder how they deal with “inappropriate” flickr or blogger content from showing up on the site – but I bet the benefits are worth the risk.

    By the way – you don’t have to live in Kansas to “join” the site and access to the Community section. I’d suggest “joining” and spending some time checking these unique features out.

    All-in-all, I think a church website that incorporates Flickr, blogs, discussion groups and Google maps represents a “new” concept in church website design – linking virtual networking (Flickr, blogger, etc) with traditional “brick-and-mortar” church fellowship.

    Check it out…

  3. 3 Joshua

    That is pretty cool and indeed what I would call a church/web2.0 site. The inclusion of flickr is nice, though I question the assumption that any photo in a registered users flickr account would be appropriate for include on the church’s site. Definitely a leap of faith there. This site is definitely something I will look to in designing a church site in the future.

  4. 4 Scott Raymond

    Thanks, guys. As Greg said, feel free to create an account so you can check out some of the community features.

    It’s true that there’s some level of risk in accepting Flickr pictures, but the consensus with the church staff was that a certain level of vulnerability fits with the culture of the church. Plus, there are quite a few people who subscribe to the “master” RSS feed for the site, and would be able to quickly block something if a particularly “bad” picture or weblog post came up.

  5. 5 Greg Balzer

    My pastor has been requesting “additional web functionality” with regards to the ministry of the church. While Flickr, blogs and delicious will likely be “heretodaygonetomorrow” I do think that they present fresh opportunities to get people to know one another. I think we would be remiss to not experiment in these areas – taking a clue from Scott’s lead.

    As a “webservant” the thought of opening a church website to Flickr or Blogger RSS feeds presents a challenge to my “control” (pride?) of the site – but let’s be honest – who really has time to adequately update site content?

    I appreciate the emphasis godbit.com places on standards based websites – but I’d like to also see discussion of the potential of “interactive features” in addition to aesthetics and streamlined code.

  6. 6 Nathan Smith

    Greg: Funny you should mention that, as we’ve got an article planned about podcasting and streaming media coming up. I’m not sure the exact date it will be ready, what with Christmas preparations taking up much of everyone’s time lately. I can say this much, it will be a good one. The guys who are working the article run this website: Intereactive.net

  7. 7 Greg Balzer


    Maybe podcasting will replace those old “sermons-on-casette-tapes”someday? A key component still missing is a way to provide EASY website access to users whether they be running a PC or Mac with iTunes, Windows Media, Real Audio, Broadband or dialup. I can always figure out a way to get it to work myself – but how do we make it easy enough for the non-techies who should be able to just click a dialog box or two?

    Looking forward to the article. Keep up the good work.

  8. 8 Nathan Smith

    Greg: That can be accomplished using Flash player’s ability to stream multimedia, such as MP3 or video formats. For a good example of this being done, go check out Odeo. The guys at Intereactive will be addressing some of these issues in their article. For more on what the article will cover, check out this thread: Godbit Discussion Forum – Sermon Audio.


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