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25 July 2007

How is Your Arc and Throw?

I've been working on our sprinkler system for the past week after realizing that you must calibrate each sprinkler head if you want them to cover the entire lawn correctly. I assumed the previous owner already did this, and wouldn't have noticed since we run them so early in the morning.

However, this summer has seen near drought conditions and the lawn is rebelling.

So I downloaded the manuals and figured out how to change two important settings:

  • The "arc:" How far the sprinkler head turns from left to right (capable of any arc from 1 to 360 degrees).
  • The "throw:" How far the water is thrown from the sprinkler head (the radius).

As I tweaked each head I quickly realized the previous configuration was causing sections of the lawn to be missed, sections to be over watered and weeds watered in sections where there is no lawn.

So what does this have to do with the web driven church?

Glad you asked.

As I finished up with the sprinklers I was amazed at how precise I could get them. Every inch was getting water, there was no stray streams and all the heads were working together to cover the entire lawn. When it comes to web design we have to think the same way:

  • The "arc:" If we view our ministries as circles (made up of 360 degrees) we must make decisions on the arc that gets pushed to our websites. Do we expose everything from all-church content to a small group gathering for volunteers in the decorating ministry? Or do we refine the arc to include just those things that the majority of viewers want and need to see? At Granger we take the less is more approach and don't attempt to have a page for everything that goes on at the church.
  • The "throw:" Another thing to think about is the effective range of your website. Are you designing for your congregation? Your region? The world? Or all of the above? At Granger we started out focused on a fairly short throw for It serves regular attendees by offering online services like event registration and online giving. Those in the community that do not attend church will quickly see what the church is about and whether or not it's the right place for them. All viewers should immediately be able to identify a "spiritual" next step upon entering the site. Over time we have begun to see that our throw is lengthening. With the addition of the media player and streaming services the site has become much more visible. Other churches are using the site as a case study and the stats from our streaming partners show that people around the globe are watching the weekend message online.

Before you think I'm developing a green thumb let me assure you there are still a few glitches in the sprinkling system, but after a few simple tweaks things are looking better than ever...