web design

Web Design Critique: Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist, Oak Hill, WVOur first website that was selected for our Design Month Critiques is Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Their web address is:

First Impressions

The home page was quick to load and I could clearly see the organization’s name. I saw the Welcome message but only after I had scrolled down below an image, scripture and the church’s name and contact info.

When a visitor first visits your site, you’ll want to tell them what to expect right away and keep your introductions “above the fold”, so you don’t have to scroll down. My suggestion would be to put the Church Name and Contact info at the bottom of the page and placing the image and scripture lower within the page copy as well.

Page Content

Great use of headings to separate your paragraphs and add “white space”. Separating your content with headings Is a great way to keep you reader’s attention. It also looks nice on the page.

One suggestion I would make would be to left align your paragraphs and maybe even place a few images of people from the church family within the text to break things up even more. I would align the images left or right so that the text will wrap around it.

You placed a couple of tools at the bottom of the page. One was a Google search form, but it was not labeled. Is this to search the web or just your site. The other tool was the local weather.

If you feel that you need the local weather tool on your front page, my suggestion would be to create a table that contains 2 columns. Place the Google search in one column and the Weather tool in the other. For both, add a title at the top that explains each. If the Google search is for your site only, you could put something like “Search CalvaryOakHill.com”, otherwise you could say “Search the Web”.

Side Bar

The menu looks nice and organized, however, when I get to a menu item with submenus, the submenus cover up the menu items below. I suggest that you position the submenus to the right of the “parent” menu. I believe there is a setting within the NE1 Website Builder that will allow you to set your submenus to a “vertical” orientation. That should position it for you automatically.

The images within your News section of the side bar looks great, although one of them seems a bit wide.

Other Pages

Here’s a rule of thumb for most of your pages: Unless you are using the text as a title, caption or quote of some sort, keep the text left aligned. It makes it a lot easier to read for a majority of people.

Your staff page is laid out nicely, although it would look nicer if the pictures were more uniform. Try editing the pictures so that they are all the same width or height. Also, you will want to use the same spacing in between the image and name. Then make sure there is more space in between each staff member so that we can tell what image goes with what name.

On the SS Class page, you might consider aligning your pictures of the classes to the right of the description. Also, if you’re going to have pictures for some of the classes, you need to post pictures for all of the classes. It would look more uniform and it would also show new visitors what types of people are in that class (age, the way they dress, etc.).

The services page, has no images at all. You may think about adding a picture of one of your services so people can see what type of building you have, what types of things do you do at your services, how people are dressed, etc.

The our history page is all text. Consider adding pictures to break things up. You can also add color to the headings (like you did on the front page).

The ministries pages need to be more uniform. I would suggest using one image per ministry. For the Awana page, I would consider creating a separate page to place all of the extra images on and then linking to it from their ministry page.

I looked through the Members/Activities pages. I wasn’t quite sure what the pages were going to be by the title. You may consider changing the Menu Text to “Photo Galleries” since that’s what most of the pages were.

The Resources/Christian Helps page was perfect. The only suggestion I would make would be to place a description for each of the resources to explain what they can find there.

It seems like the CBY pages are still under construction. You may consider removing the blog for now.

Under service opportunities, consider adding photos for the Choir and Nursery pages. Otherwise, good work.


To recap…

Use images to describe things just as much as your text. New visitors don’t just want to read about your church, they want to experience it as well. The right images can accomplish this.

Remember to keep you text left aligned. That’s how folks are used to reading text. You can center text, but do it sparingly and to emphasize a point.

Remember “The Fold”, especially on the front page. Web surfers do not want to have to scroll to find what they want.

I hope these little tid-bits helped. Enjoy your site and have fun with it!!

What do you think of the Calvary Baptist Church site? Do you have any suggestions for them?

About the author

Mike Cotton

Mike joined OurChurch.com as Web Designer/Developer in September, 2006. Born and raised in Houston, TX, he is now married and has 3 adorable children. In his spare time he enjoys playing piano/keys and singing throughout the local area as well as at church. You may also see him acting in church dramas as well as a local Improv Comedy Troupe!


  • I agree with most of the article. My suggestions would be as follows:

    1) Don’t align all the images. Have them scattered around the site to draw attention.

    2) Combine your “Service page” and your “service Opportunities page. That way, people can see what you offer anf what they can do to help at the same time.

    Other than that, I liked it.

  • I looked over much of the site and my first reaction is that it looks old fashioned and needs modernisation. I agree about the children’s photos needing to be aligned and I was disappointed to click on what should have been pics of children to just find adults. I’m sure it’s a great church but my initial reaction would be that there are not many young people and I wouldn’t visit if I was in the area. I would suggest you take more pics of your kids and young people unless of course you are trying to target middle aged and elderly people.

    But my main criticism of your web design is the pale grey font on white. It doesn’t stand out enough. Plus there is too much plain white background and I don’t like scrolling down so far on each page.

    Compare with our church! http://www.hertfordtownchurch.org/ You would probably say that ours is harder to navigate but if you have time on your hands then there is a lot of interesting material and pics there!

    Every blessing,

  • Thanks for the comments so far. I’m working on changes.
    The photo on the site is local. I change them for the seasons but use local ones. It is of Babcock State park. We live near the New River Gorge Bridge so I use that photo some too. I want people to identify with the area.

  • I Love The Red!!! It makes me think of the Holy Spirit, for He is bold and empowering (just recall pentecost). I feel that this design was God-led and God-designed for today’s Christians who have so much on our plates a lot of which is anti-Christian. May God continue to lead and bless You in Your work for Him!

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