Website Case Study: Minooka Bible Church

New Website Design by Sators.comToday marked the launch of a new website for Minooka Bible Church, http://www.minookabible.org/. This was the cultivation of several months of planning, meetings, content collection, design and programming. MBC’s previous website, developed by Sators.com, had not been given an overhaul since its’ release in 2002, therefore making it long overdue for a revision.

The website was designed with Adobe Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop and Fireworks CS3. Users on MBC’s side is therefore able to maintain content using Adobe Contribute CS3. There are a few design elements that I want to point out and some outline some strategies that were performed along the way. One of the first things that draws your attention when going to the website is the advertisements along the left sidebar. This was originally designed as a static element, with simply three random images loaded from a pool each time the page loads. However, MBC wanted this element to draw the eye a little more, and thus the rotating images. The images and link URLs are pulled from a MySQL database managed by a custom administration and file upload interface designed by Leese Internet Technology, LeeseIT for short. The images are then loaded into flash by using the LoadVars() actionscript class. Each time the three images fade away, the PHP is loaded again and thus three new images.

I hit a hurdle at this point though as I noticed that Internet Explorer 7 was caching my PHP script output, therefore the same 3 images were always being loaded. The work around Actionscript 2.0 code that is called in frame 1 of the Flash as it loops is:

randnum = random(100)
imageVars = new LoadVars();
imageVars.load( “/ad-serve-flash.php?random=” + randnum );

The random variable isn’t used anywhere, however I used the random function to generate a new URL
to load, thus breaking the Internet Explorer cache issue.

Another prominent element on the site is the Week at a Glance element on the right sidebar. This dynamic shows the next 7 days of activities and functions happening at the church. Utilizing an element like this will help keep the website feeling fresh and updated to repeat visitors, even though it requires no human interaction to rotate the content daily. Data is pulled from their installation of phpCalendar.

A common usage of MBC’s website is to listen to their weekly sermon podcast, published using a modified version of Podcast Publisher. This modified version also allows the administrators of the podcast to publisher and upload weekly PowerPoint files for the sermons for listeners to following along with the audio.

Minooka Bible also wanted to display a photo gallery of images from the church. This is a potential challenge for designers and content editors as we want photo galleries to be able to be updated frequently and easily as possible. Again, with the help of LeeseIT, we setup MBC with a Google Picasa Web Album account and used RSS feeds from that account to display the images on the site. Thus allowing them to use popular Google Picasa software to update and maintain the images displayed on the website.

Finally, Google Search API was utilized in the design and development of their search page. The key feature of this page is that the search is driven by Google’s servers, but the results displayed in the MBC site template.

This website project was a redesign project. A core element in a redesign project is maintaining the links that search engines may have to old pages, and somehow connecting those with the new website. However, it is common that the file structure may differ, meaning on the old site, the about page was located at /about.shtml, however on the new it is at /about/index.php. When searching for About Minooka Bible Church, the result that comes up is a link to /about.shtml, however that page no longer exists on the new design. Enter .htaccess 301 redirect to the ring.

A custom .htaccess file was created with references to each file previously on the old website with a link to the new file location. Therefore, search engines remain happy, users remain happy, and the world is a better place.

The new Minooka Bible Church website took several weeks to complete once production began. The revision process from the MBC team lasted roughly one to two weeks. The outcome, a great marketing tool for Minooka Bible Church.

Find this useful? Take just a moment and give a $1. Thanks!
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)