Commandment 5 – Thou shalt outline your navigation like a good sermon

Recently I was giving someone a drive because their car was in the shop. I sort of knew where I was taking them, but I was more enjoying the animated conversation. Right in the middle of my good story (where I was barely thinking about my driving and more about the emotion of the dialogue), my friend exclaimed, “Careful! Turn here!” as he whipped his arm in the direction of the intersection.

I think we’ve all been there. You’re enjoying yourself and BAM something interrupts abrasively. It’s not that you don’t want to make the turn, but you are jolted into it.

Well, the same can be said about the poor navigation habits of most websites. Just as you’re enjoying browsing in a website, an annoying, flashing, neon “thing” jolts you into clicking on it. Nothing flows.

The same can also be said about a bad sermon. The content should be digested, but the presentation and organization is like a new jigsaw puzzle box — when you first open it. You pick up a really cool piece here and there of the puzzle, but can’t even imagine where it fits into the overall picture.

Awwwww, but remember the last great sermon you heard? Think back. I bet the sermon had these things in common:

  1. The content was relevant and meaningful to you.
  2. There was a great introduction that sucked you in.
  3. There were specific points — perhaps alliterated — or at least well planned.
  4. There was a great close.
  5. It wasn’t long. (OK, I added that 🙂

Well, your website has to do the same. But since we’re talking about this commandment and navigation, let’s stop on the menus of your site. Are they engaging? Relevant? Organized? It’s hard to develop a good sermon outline — but it’s worth the effort so the audience can hang the meat on the skeleton. Yup, the same for your website. Outline it. Organize it. Then hone it until you see that people are using the menus as planned. Check your analytics to see where people are clicking — that’s where they want more content. Or perhaps the other pages aren’t named correctly. Or they’re too hard to get to.

Lastly, make sure that every (!) page connects to a theme. We’ll call it your positioning or brand. And while we’re talking about connecting, let me remind you that every page should have a link to take someone back to the Home Page.

I’m looking forward to going to church on Sunday and hearing another great sermon. It does my heart good. Now the Church needs to connect with their online congregation as they connect to the people in pews.

Any suggestions on how to create a great sermon outline that will be relevant for the web too? Comment. It’s easy… go ahead… click on the headline and write something!

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