The City Church, 2

11 comments | Posted: 10 May 06 in Featured, by Nathan Smith


What do you get when you lock two guys in a room named Sean Sperte and Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain? One amazing church website, that’s what. I was trying to post this review as “The City Church,” but then realized that we had already featured the site’s previous design here. While that design was good, this one is great. The design and layout is functional and absolutely beautiful.

From a technical aspect, things are about as close to perfect as you get: XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS. I really love the way they’ve made tasteful use of SlideShowPro, sIFR and the FamFamFam silk icon set. Many times, these enhancements can be grossly overdone, but I think there is a nice balance here. Basically, if you are enjoying a site and don’t really notice the enhancements, they’ve been done well (in my book).

The information architecture throughout this site is top-notch. I love that you can download the sermons in MP3 format, and there appears to be plans for a way to purchase each one in the future, indicated by the little shopping cart icon that as of yet links to #. In fact, e-commerce seems to be integrated seamlessly throughout the whole site, but not in such a way that you feel pressured to purchase anything. For instance, you can book a ticket to upcoming conferences from their Event Registration page.

I really dig the calendar page too, because from having done church sites, this is one of the crucial things that it always asked requested. It’ll cost you a bit more with ExpressionEngine, but I think it’s well worth it, because as you can see on their events page, it can be made to integrate quite well with the rest of the site’s look and feel. I could go on and on, but I bet you’re probably already browsing their site anyway, so I’ll just say great job by Sean and Jesse!

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Chris Harrison

    This is quite possibly one of the best designed and well-organized church sites I’ve ever seen. Hats off to the designers. This is definitely a site The City Church can be proud of.

  2. 2 Nathan Smith

    Chris: I agree. I’m actually jealous, which is sort of sad. It makes me want to do an ExpressionEngine website project a’ somethin’ fierce, it does.

  3. 3 Sean Sperte

    Woo! We made ya jealous?! Can’t think of a better compliment from a fellow webdesigner/developer.

    Thanks for the awesome review! I’m glad you mentioned the fabulous FamFamFam icons, too … they’re truly the cherry on top.

    Honestly, I really am proud of the site; I’ve been pushing for a major redesign like this for 7+ years, as long as I’ve worked here. Having Jesse come on board for this was such a blessing, too: Not only is his design sense amazing, but he’s quick and easy to work with.

    I also can’t say enough good things about ExpressionEngine. The versitility, flexibility and scalability of the app is beyond comparison for others in its class. Plus, they offer non-profit pricing for churches. We’ve only purchased one license for the many sites/blogs/databases we maintain.

  4. 4 Sean Sperte

    D’oh. Forgot to mention that while EE is perfectly capable of maintaining an events calendar, I chose to use EasyPHPCalendar instead.

    ... I might be regretting it, though. I’m having some problems with it, and it doesn’t validate.

  5. 5 John Peele

    Jesse and Sean, dudes, great work! Absolutely top notch and nothing less. This is one of the tightest church sites that I have ever laid eyes on. It definitely give RBP something to aim for.

    Nathan, maybe one of these days I will be faster than you. The minute I came across this site the first I did was bolt over to Godbit to submit it for review. But lo and behold my brethren had beat me to the punch…again.

    Next time Mr. Smith, next time…

  6. 6 Nathan Smith

    Sean: Ah, my hopes have been dashed. I used EasyPHPCalendar for a church site, and it has been giving me nothing but problems ever since. So, when I saw the City site using what I thought was EE’s calendar, I was elated. Get used to supporting the many cruddy point releases of EasyPHPCalendar bro, because it truely is a terrible system.

    John: Sorry man, you gotta try to keep up! Sean had posted it for a preview critique when it was on his development server, so I was just salivating, waiting for the moment it would go live. CSS Beauty beat us to the punch though, but that’s just because I had to take the time to write a review!

  7. 7 Mic

    WOW. this site is simply awesome in the way that it has been designed and developed. XHTML/CSS/sIFR/SlideshowPro/FAMfamFam…you guys have set the bar very high. Well done!!!

  8. 8 Nate Klaiber

    First off, as others have stated, INCREDIBLE job on the site. It is definitely one of the best church sites I have ever seen. My boss found it yesterday through one of his feeds and was telling me how nice he thought it was as well.

    Now, I must say that I am not a big fan of EE (please dont stone me for that comment). I have worked with a friend who uses this and to me it just adds levels of complexity that I don’t really need – but thats a personal preference. However, what I do like – is when someone can take something like that and create a beautiful design like you did – all the way through the site!

    It is evident that you guys took great care and attention to getting this thing right the first time, and I think you have hit the nail on the head. You have just raised the bar REALLY HIGH for other church sites.

    Awesome job guys!


  9. 9 Les Reynolds

    That is an amazing site. I am just getting started doing web design, and I am working on a new site for our church. That site is a great inspiration.

  10. 10 David Russell

    I’ve gone back to the site now every day for the past three days. I’m just trying to take it all in. I agree with Chris. This has to be one of the best church sites I’ve ever seen. Sparkling clean, smart and accessible. Major props to Sean and Jesse.

  11. 11 Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain

    I feel a little late to the party here. Just came to check out Godbit and found the City Church featured here. Thanks for all the kind words… much appreciated!


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