7/31/2010

The Church Center website: How many steps to a staff directory?

Earlier tonight I wanted to find the name of the person dealing with Youth and Young Adults Ministry at the Episcopal Church Center.  It took me two steps from the home page to get there.

Here were the steps:


This last list is the same in each of the areas - advocacy, community, networking and partnerships.  In order to get to youth and young adult ministries I had to scroll down to the section on  LIFELONG CHRISTIAN FORMATION AND VOCATION. Several people related to what I was searching for.

The general list is a list of all the Staff Officers at the Church Center related to program.  But it is not a staff directory of The Episcopal Church Center. 

So, I tried another route.  I thought perhaps the word "directory" over "search" might do the trick. But no, that led to pages about the dioceses of the whole church. 

Well, how about "search."  There's the button. So I typed in "Episcopal Church Center Staff Directory" nothing like it, but a quick drift to items including several, but not all of the search words. 

Now another route: How about clicking on "Episcopal Church Center" on the opening page? 

on that page is "Staff Directory" which takes us to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/eccstaff.htm
Well.. that's more like it.Two clicks from ground zero. 

But wait, now the choices are search by name or by a further division by office. If you don't know a name, then off you go then to a staff directory broken up into subsets of various offices. In the case of youth ministry, additional clicks to "Mission Program" and then to "Formation and Vocational Ministries." That takes us in four steps to the same list gotten in two steps by going from Home Page to Networking to Who We Are. 

Still there is no list of the people occupying offices at The Episcopal Church Center.  So if I don't know that Youth Ministry is part of Networking or at least know that "Who We Are" is a common list in each of the four areas, my best bet is the longer search by way of Staff Directory and then on into sub groupings until I nail it down.

Of course if I wanted the name of the UTO officer, I'd be hard pressed to find that office. The easiest process seems to be to go by way of the "Who We Are" list and find her there. She is in the section on Global Partnerships.

All of these steps require some initial buy in to the notion that navigation on this site is primarily to lists by particular function, and then by finding the office within that function.  I can't find what essentially would be a spread sheet of names, a to z, with office, group and section notices.  Search for UTO Coordinator or Mission Personnel Officer do not result in a name, and using a name in search does not give a directory listing.  Searching by name gives a biography.  The one for a friend of mine was several years out of date. Perhaps it is there, but I was not able to find it.

There are may ways in which the current webpages of The Episcopal Church work well, but finding out such things as (i) how many people are on staff, (ii) a list of them by name, office, etc,and (iii) finding the link between name and office entails a good bit of work.

I thought the whole idea of the information age was not about presentation, but about content. So I ought to be able to have "search" give me right up front either the officer for an office or an office for an officer. 

Anyone else having problems getting from Home to staff name and office in lest than five steps?

In the larger scheme of things, the Gospel, say, it is no big thing. On the other hand there are some excellent people working at the Church Center and it ought to be easier to find out who they are. 

Follow up note.  I have a further entry on this matter, dated August 6th. Read it here, at "Church Center Website: Followup"
 



19 comments:

Jane Ellen+ said...

*Sigh* This is the sort of experience I have every time I go to look for ANYTHING on the National Church website. It's pretty, but function leaves a lot to be desired.

LKT said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about this. The National Church website is incredibly confusing. I find it hard to find almost anything.

You go to the tabs, and instead of finding out what is listed under the tabs, you get a quote that doesn't tell you anything about who or what you will find if you click there.

What they really need are some outsiders trying to find things to tell them what works and what doesn't. It's really hard to see what is obscure to others if it's perfectly clear to you.

Malcolm+ said...

It's what we in the PR profession call "bad web design."

The industry standard is no more than three clicks to find what you want.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Reminds me of that old New Yorker cartoon from the 60s. Father What-A-Waste is standing on the church steps greeting two bluehairds. The sermon title is behind him: "Evangelism". One bluehair says, "But Father, everyone who needs to be an Episcopalian already is."

Some attitudes die hard.

Daniel Weir said...

It took me three clicks and some scrolling to get to the name of the Youth Ministries Officer. The A to Z Directory, Youth Ministries, and Who We are.

Karen+ said...

For looks, the national church site is pretty. For function, it's dreadful. When I want to find something I use Google and make the search specific to TEC's site and maybe - just maybe, I can find what I'm looking for. Thanks for writing about this. Maybe someone at the national church office will listen, but I won't hold my breath waiting.

Jim said...

A number of us have blogged on this before. Here is the answer if anyone decides you are worthy of one. You are not a New York Web professional. As such your opinion is not relevant.

They have had any number of offers from pros that have solid experience on web design, menu design etc. All declined because they are the professionals.

;;sigh;;

FWIW
jimB

WSJM said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!

There are some parishes and dioceses that have well-designed websites that are easy to navigate. But most, not so much. The Episcopal Church site is fairly attractive, and frustrating disaster to try actually to use. (As I recall it used to be a little plainer, and a lot easier.) A couple of weeks ago I tried looking up a parish in another diocese to see who the clergy were. (I no longer remember its name or location, which may say something right there!) It was a very spiffy site, but I don't think I ever found the clergy staff's names.

How is it with other denominations' national, judicatory, and congregational websites? Are all Christian communities incapable of good (i.e. usable, not "pretty") website design, or is it just us?

Point of Order said...

Is is possible the organization is more complex than it needs to be?

Presenting information on a static page is not a simple task unless the information is simple.

Marshall Scott said...

Mark, I share your (and, apparently, everyone else's) frustration with the Episcopal Church web site. As Daniel does, whenever I want to find anything I immediately go the the A to Z list. That said, I still usually have your trouble, and can't find what I want.

I am also always frustrated by the Search tool. When I have done a search, what comes up first - indeed, usually all that comes up - is a series of Episcopal News Service articles that seem to match. When I'm trying to find an office at Episcopal Church Center, three pages of articles, some only remotely related, and many out of date, are less than helpful.

As a result, I go to the Episcopal Church website rarely, and then largely for matters related to General Convention or the Episcopal Church Electronic Archive. Indeed, since I've added the address for for the Electronic Archive to my favorites, I hardly use the Episcopal Church web site at all.

Feel free, of course, to share my comments (and I'm sure others would concur) with your colleagues on Executive Council.

Kevin Montgomery said...

Is there any person/office/whatever to whom we can forward this post (along with our own personal thoughts)? I'm talking mass forwardings here. Each of us forward and then get three people to forward and each of them get three people and so on. Maybe sheer force of numbers could get the message across.

Peter Carey+ said...

Interesting...I never use the website...wonder what kind of traffic they get...

Peter Carey+

Peter Carey+ said...

Kevin,...

good luck trying to find who that person might be....

Peter Carey+

JayV said...

Just so anyone from TEC's IT Dept reading this post and comments, I've only gone to the Episcopal Church's website to find the GC information as it was happening, but even their livestream of it sucked. Since it was made to look snazzy, I've avoided it for much the same complaints that others have written here.

Grandmère Mimi said...

With others, I agree. The site looks good but is not at all useful or user-friendly. The National Church, and, with exceptions, dioceses and parishes have a long way to go in taking advantage of the internet. Sometimes I despair. Thank you, Mark.

Paul said...

I was trying to find out who to contact at the Government Relations Office in DC and ran into the same issues. Couldn't find a name, phone number or e-mail address.

And if anyone were to present all of this to the powers-that-be at 815, they would come up with many more excuses than solutions.

I will gladly add to the chorus of "pretty but unfunctional."

Margaret said...

The A to Z Directory is my first click always. If I can't find it then, I give up or google.
We had a long explanation of how the new website was going to make our lives easier at Province IV a few years ago. It didn't work. Having said that, I still remember designing and maintaining a website so I am grateful for those who work on this one. Still, the A to Z is about the only useful part.

Kevin Montgomery said...

I know, mine was a silly thought born out of frustration.

Does anyone know who designed the website? Was it an outside firm or some group within the Church Center? Either way, it would be good to know who NOT to hire to design church-related websites.

Mark Harris said...

I have a follow up to this post. Read it here at http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2010/08/church-center-website-followup.html