Oh what tangled webs we weave

Recently, I’ve had occasion to visit the websites of most major sg groups and performers. The upshot is, on the whole, mixed. A few sites are pretty slick (among them, The Hoppers and The Crabb Family), a solid chunk are serviceable, if not great (including, the Talley Trio, Gold City, and Legacy 5), and the rest are just abysmally disappointing (and it pains me more than I can tell you to say this, but Greater Vision’s is perhaps the worst; at least it’s the one site that seemed to most poorly reflect on the stature and reputation of the group). Several sites use the services of JSWWEBDESIGN, including Brian Free and Assurance (a big frame-offender). And handful of the best-designed (which isn’t always the same as best looking) use the design services of Lance Moore of the trio Paid in Full (hat tip, JG; unfortunately Moore has buried his design-services page within a frame on the Paid in Full site, so I can’t link directly to it). But poor site structure, badly conceived navigation paths, and really illogical page flow were common to way too many sites designed by various and sundry designers. This just won’t do. I won’t use the familiar whipping stick about how groups that sing for god ought to make everything they do worthy of god’s praise (though certainly, I don’t imagine many angel bands striking up in celebration of most of these sites). What I will say is this: groups that don’t focus on their online presence, think about the role of the internet in their business and ministerial plans, and, based on that thinking and planning, make substantial investments in their websites are going to suffer for it. Since a lot of sg sites are so bad that it’s slightly premature to talk extensively about vision (after all, the fundamentals aren’t even in place in many instances), I’ve had my office interns take a memo. No need to read it if you’re not a webhead, I suppose. But in short, it urges groups to make sure their websites cover the basics first. Then they can build on that decent foundation, expanding as their business and ministry grow. For instance, I wonder how many people in sg realize that once groups like Ernie Haase and Signature Sound start posting video clips online, it’s only a matter of time before everyone else will be playing catch up to another major innovation with all kinds of unforeseen (and, in many cases, missed) opportunities. Or, alternatively, imagine, for a moment, the equivalent of an iTunes for sg music. It’s not that far-fetched given the robust copyright-clearance operation someone like Gaither already has set up. That infrastructure can, and I suspect will, pretty soon, be adapted to hash out royalties arrangements for writers and performers so that their songs can be purchased a la carte online. My suspicion is that it will start by Gaither offering homecoming “favorites” on an pay-per-download basis and everyone will slowly follow suit, with (or without) out much choice (are the sg music and recording executives ready for this?). When this happens, there will be all kinds of related ways to maximize and promote sg product online, but only for the people who are prepared.

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