I have been doing a little thinking about this topic lately. In church web design, should you feature pictures of your congregation, or just pictures of your building and surrounding neighborhood? I would like to hear where you stand. Here are my initial thoughts. Feel free to disagree or convince me otherwise.
In the world of web design and mail solicitations for nonprofits, images of people are king. It is all about emotional appeal. You want an image to touch the viewer and stir them to take action. That action could be to make a donation, volunteer, or whatever, but it is that emotional connection that you form with the person in the image that creates that connection. I argue that you cannot forge the same connection with a building. Buildings, even in the best light and at the right angle, are cold man made objects. Sure, you can take some stunningly beautiful photos of buildings, but the difference is you cannot look into their eyes and sympathize with them.
Churches are about people, not buildings. And, I think the theory behind using images carries over from the nonprofit world. Church websites should make an emotional appeal to people. As a designer you should want the people who visit your website to see the church as a warm family they could fit right into. You want them to identify and sympathize with the people in the photos. You want to create that emotional connection to pull them in. Buildings can look cool from an art or design standpoint, but ultimately that is not what churches are about. It is about people.
Those are my thoughts anyway. Please share yours. Whether you’re a designer, or an armchair critic like me, I would love to hear from you.