What’s wrong with the new PC(USA) website

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So the new PC(USA) website was rolled out today.  The old one was somewhat disorganized, visitor unfriendly, and unattractive.  The new one appears more organized, is slightly more attractive, yet remains, in my opinion, visitor unfriendly.

The first thing my eye was drawn to on the new page was a video player that has mini-testimonies from Presbyterians about why they are Presbyterian.  Nice idea, start with people. But the videos are just someone talking for a minute.  No music.  No other images . Just a talking head.  The other prominent thing I noticed on first glance was the “Find a Congregation” box.  Which assumes you came here looking for a PC(USA) congregation or the videos moved you to find one (not likely).

Let me highlight some things further down the page.

  • A big headline that reads “New book honors life and work of Clifton Kirkpatrick”
  • A short piece inviting you to listen to the “Revised Common Lectionary Podcast”
  • Several links denominational events and resources with no description of what they are

Way down at the bottom of the page is a directory under the title “Looking for a church department of office?”  The headings for this directory are:

  • General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC)
  • Office of the General Assembly (OGA)
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) Investment and Loan Program (PILP)
  • Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC)
  • Board of Pensions
  • Middle Governing Bodies

In my opinion, this page was built for insiders with a token nod to appealing to outsiders who like acronyms and don’t mind that “General Assembly” is on the page multiple times without ever being explained.  There is nothing here that communicates in an engaging and simple manner who we are or what we are about.  The paragraphs under “Get To Know the Presbyterian Church” read like a General Assembly motion prepared for and approved by committee.  Sound theology but no life or practical application.

I’m sure that a number of people put a lot of thought, time and energy into this new website.  Maybe they decided that the target audience was existing Presbyterians and the website doesn’t really need to try to appeal to others. I realize I’m coming across pretty negative.  The fact of the matter is that I’m disappointed.  

When I heard the PC(USA) website was being redesigned I was hopeful.  I frequently go to the websites of other denominations and I like a lot of what I see there. When I go to the front page of the United Methodist Church website I see lots of headlines that would interest Methodists and visitors.  There are links to the UMC Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as several blogs.  The wording of the various sections are not insider speak (no acronymns).  The visual design of the website could be a little more attractive but at least it has lots of visuals and pictures of people (not just talking heads).

Similar impressions from the United Church of Christ website. The visual design is really good and appealing.  I really like their section headings: Church Stuff, Big Things, Change the World.  Their dropdown menus are very helpful as well. I’m not saying that these two websites are perfect or that we should have cloned either one of them to use, but they both share some similar approaches and concepts that the PC(USA) website lacks.  The UCC and UMC websites appear to be outreach to people as well as a resource for those within the denomination.

Our website fails to engage or appeal to the world and seems to exists solely for the church’s benefit.

15 thoughts on “What’s wrong with the new PC(USA) website

  1. You are right. It’s a superficial, cosmetic overhaul of the old one. The fact that the first video that came up was all about the glories of the Book of Confessions didn’t help, either. Don’t get me wrong, I love the B of C, but not as much as I love God, and something more along the lines of what Presbyterians are doing in the world (showing it, not telling it) and why would have been nicer.Have you shared this post with someone at PC(USA) offices yet? You should.

  2. @Jeromy – I hadn’t noticed that that link was peddling a book rather than actually being helpful to curious visitors. Wow…

  3. I’m gonna give them that it’s better than the last one, but I agree – it’s not enough. The talking heads are saying things like, “systematic theology”, the youngest one there is in a suit (!), and the group is not terribly diverse…I’ve been to several other denominational websites, too, and wonder why we can’t hire someone (if we can’t figure it out ourselves) who can help us be less frozen and more chosen…?

  4. This was an outside company Jean – I can’t remember the name but remember reading a release about it. I’m willing to give them some time to see how it progresses. One can hope, right?

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