Earlier this month Jina Bolton wrote “Writing an Interface Style Guide” at A List Apart, and if you have responsibility for your church Web site you should click over to it, read it and bookmark it.
She wants to spare your beautiful site from disintegrating from a thousand little degradations and so do I. If you have a style guide, as you might have for a publication, then standards — which might have been the whim of the original developer — can be checked against the project’s desired outcomes, or at the very least the Web site can be consistently eccentric from here on.
Take each clause of the article and ask, “is there a recorded common standard here?” Use it like a checklist. If these clauses ask a question you don’t understand, move on to the next. Surely some of it applies to your situation; the rest can be left for a growing and learning experience. But you should know, for instance, how your congregation should be called and how links appear. But if this emerging style guide is not recorded and regularly improved, the site will decay. (Committees of one are vulnerable, especially if there’s nobody able to take over the task.) As with houses, maintenance is easier than reconstruction. Take it from me, who has learned this lesson the hard way.