Church at Martinsburg: Website (2009)

Church at Martinsburg: Website (2009) Project Photo

People looking for a new church often base their decision to attend (or not) on whatever information that they can find online about the church.

For a new church in Martinsburg, WV, the website was going to be the primary method of outreach and connection.  This meant the look, feel and ease of navigation was of utmost importance.

The clean look reinforced the brand. The navigation directed newcomers to relevant information. The CMS allowed the church to manage much of the upkeep.

Launched in May, 2009, the Church at Martinsburg website is the centerpiece of all marketing efforts.  This required a site developed to allow the church leadership to maintain much of the information on the site.  Built on the ExpressionEngine (1.6) CMS, church leaders and staff are able to add news, events, daily devotions, add supplemental study material and modify static content.

The site integrates Yahoo! Maps to provide directions to weekly Community Groups, PayPal to allow online giving, and a flash media player for audio archives and video testimonials.

The site has also been used as an outlet for streaming of messages when inclement weather has not allowed services to be held as scheduled.

The versatility of the site design has allowed for easy rebranding of event specific pages (participation in a burger cook-off and a community wide egg drop).

Top to Bottom

The Church at Martinsburg Website (May 2009)
The layout of the site was designed to give the most important information a prominent place while still providing quick access to the destination areas of the site.

Destination Areas = Site Utilities.  In the upper left of the site you will notice a gray tab hanging off of the browser window.  Internally, we call these site utilities and they contain quick links to destination areas of the site.  In other words, areas that repeat visitors will want to visit frequently or at least at regular intervals.

This area includes the following:

  • Map: The map link directs the user to a page with an interactive Yahoo! map with our current meeting location prominently marked.  Additionally, a user can zoom in / out, pan around the map and view a satellite or hybrid view of the location.  You will also find our meeting date / time and a link to Yahoo! maps where you can get directions from your location to our meeting location.
  • E-Vite:  The E-vite link (aka Tell a friend) opens a lightbox window above the page that you are currently on to allow you to quickly send a message to a friend informing them about the site without having to leave the page that has caught your attention.  For the purposes of Spam prevention, the message within the box is not editable.
  • Online Giving:  Currently, the online giving page is disabled.  This page will allow for tithes and offerings to be given via the website through a secure enviornment.
  • Calendar:  The calendar link also opens in a lightbox above the current page that you are on.  The calendar will display a monthly view of upcoming events.  Links to event details will open directly on the site.
  • Twitter: The twitter link will open the @MartinsburgCh twitter feed in a lightbox and display recent “tweets”.  Additionally, you will be able to subscribe to our twitter feed via the link.
  • RSS Feed:  The RSS feed is for those that like to be notified of updates immediately via their RSS reader.  If you do not use an RSS reader, then this link is probably not for you.  More information on RSS.

In addition to the utilities in the top left of the site, we also have two quick links in the top right.

  • Join Us Sunday: Ever been sitting there on Sunday morning and forgot when / where you church meets?  Me neither.  But, this is a good way to give visitors a quick link to where we meet and at what time.
  • Keep Me Informed:  The Keep Me Informed link opens a lightbox with a form to allow you to quickly request more information.  You can also use it to subscribe to our email list.

Primary Navigation

The primary navigation of the site is limited to the most important information.  Links include Connect, Events, About Us, Resources, Contact and The Gospel.  These are the most import pages for people to explore the Church at Martinsburg and each provides links to allow the visitor to dig deeper into our site and our church.

Primary Content

For the primary content section of the site we have chosen a two column layout with the main content of each page on the left and navigation related to the content of the page in the narrow, right hand column.  For maximum readability we have used dark text (black and dark gray) on a white background.  Active links are CaM green to allow them stand out from the body text.

Recent Content

Beneath the primary content area, we have a Recent Content area.  The recent content area is where you will find all of the recently added news, links, events, etc.  We have divided the recent content area into three sections; Upcoming, News and Media / Downloads.

  • Upcoming:  The upcoming section features upcoming events at the Church at Martinsburg,  These are the same events that are linked to on the calendar and include details about the event.
  • News: The news section includes recent news items and blog entries from the Church at Martinsburg.  The RSS feed syndicates the content found in this section.
  • Media / Downloads: The media / downloads section is where you will find PDF and MP3 downloads as they become available. These will include study guides, resources of importance, etc.

Sub Navigation

The sub navigation is a persistent navigation which is found on every page within the site.  It acts as a site map, allowing access to nearly every section of the site without having to search.  Additionally, it provides contact information for those that need to contact the church.  This section has been divided into five sub-sections; New?, Connect, About, Resources and Contact Information.

  • New? Start Here:  This section provides basic information about the church (what to expect and where to meet) and the ability to find out more information.
  • Connect: These are the various ministries of the church.  Areas where we can plug-in, or connect with the church. It includes kids, baptism, serve and membership information.
  • About: This section is dedicated to providing more information about the church.  It includes About the Church at Martinsburg, Leadership, Purpose Statement, Values, Doctrine and Why Martinsburg.
  • Resources:  These are links to other internal and external resources related to the Church at Martinsburg including Links, Media / Downloads, Email, Twitter and our RSS feed.
  • Contact Information: While we do have a page that includes our contact information, we felt it was equally important to have that contact information on every page.  We are part of the community and want to engage the area in any way possible, so why hide our basic contact info.

Homepage Content

One other area of note, in which the site deviates from the layout described above, is the homepage.  Since the homepage is the first point of contact for most visitors, specifically those who have received a handout with our web address and type the URL directly into their address bar, we wanted to increase the impact of it while still providing links to relevant and important information.  We didn’t want just eye-candy.  We thought about a flash element, but that can decrease accessibility for those with screen readers or are on mobile devices.  Instead we went with a bit of javascript and css in addition to standard HTML to create the Welcome to the Church at Martinsburg graphic.  The graphic features four images each linking to a different section of the site and does it in a way that has impact.


We feel like we’ve created an accessible and easily navigable website, that validates and is based on web standards, that should render well whether you are accessing the site via an old browser like IE 6, a modern browser like Firefox or a mobile device.

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