The Grand Lodge of Arizona is the next stop on our tour of American Grand Lodges.
Arizona Masonic membership:
9,900 – 2006
9,642 – 2007
gain/loss - -258
data from MSANA
State population – 6,338,755 as of 2007 (estimated),
About the Grand Lodge:
The website has no information on the formation or history of Freemasonry in Arizona.
Some of what I found on my excursion there:
The site at first approach is very impressive. The URL is catchy and relevant to the site it represents: http://www.azmasons.org. Entering the URL, the splash page opens with a panorama of images of the state (the Grand Canyon, cactus, state flower), which then fade into images of Freemasonry. Behind the images is an impressive score of music to usher in the site. It is a bit surprising, given the volume the music starts at (and that I had my volume turned way up), the auto start music definitely caught my attention.
The site meets the user with a very clear top and bottom layout. The top header is the anchor art with the navigation sub bar with color coordinated sub menus for the site menus. This is a straight forward arrangement and navigation and a very simple format to expand as data is added.
On the front page there is a clear mission statement of the Fraternity, but without any attribution from where it originated. Reading it left me unclear if this was the statement of Arizona Masonry or of Freemasonry in general. There are two calendar entries right on the front page to relevant events, though one was already expired, but only by a few days of my visit.
The site does offer a lot of choices in the navigation. Six main tabs (including a Home tab) with several pages beneath each option, the navigation also repeats on the pages visited on the left side. All of the major navigation is text (HTML) and easily scalable as updates and additions are made.
Additionally, all of the sites in the navigation go to text based pages without any cumbersome PDF’s or Word docs, which is good, but delving into the data, the pages also seem to be free of unique information to the state. I will commend them in that all of the navigation stays in site, which keeps the visitor engaged in the content. Also, there is a very functional calendar with a lot of valuable Grand Lodge data.
When looking at the site from an informational stand point, I found that it was very light. With every page filled with content, I found very little of it relevant to someone with an interest in becoming an Arizona Mason. It did include entries in their about section on myths and misconceptions, the fraternities history, but that was it. There was no mention of what Arizona Masonry was about. It also includes a page on “How to Join” which does a very good at talking about joining, but without any means to take the reader to the NEXT STEP. Ultimately the site does nothing to help convert the viewer into a lodge visitor, let alone a petitioner. There is no off link to “contact us for more info”, “submit your name and info on line”, or even a phone number for someone to call with questions. It was disappointing that there was no provision in place to convert the visitor in ANY way on the “How To Join page. I do want to say that there is a lodge locator page which would be a good next step link with instructions to contact a lodge for more info. This may be a good interim solution, but would in turn layer more clicks into the visitation process. There is also a contact us page, with the address of the Grand Lodge (and number) and a contact form for all of the Grand Lodge officers, but again, its disassociated from the “How to Join” page.
As with Alaska, there is a certain presumption that there is an infrastructure in place to field those contacts and manage them as they are received. This again speaks to the broader organization and the back end of the site (and Grand Lodge) management. It again raises the question, what is the emphasis of the site: members or prospective members/general public? Perhaps a clearer idea purpose is needed to define who it is to address.
One item of concern I found was in the about us section; it indicated that Masonry in the state is over 11,000 members which must be old data when compared to the date from the 07 MSANA. It may seem a clerical over site, but it does seem to link the site to old information on cross reference.
Also, I found a good many of the links on the sites link page to be broken or connected to non existent pages.
Look and Feel:
The colors choices for the site are very powerful and very Masonic, which I like, but from a non Masonic user, they almost feel overpowering. Dominate Blue and Purple with yellow accents is very strong, and always runs the risk of being TOO powerful. The balance is meaningful content.
The Arizona Grand Lodge site is definitely content driven and not based on images and art. The opening header is excellent as it highlights Arizona Masonry, but there is little to follow it up to show some Masonic activity in the state. Images, I want to stress, are not a mandatory inclusion, but they are an excellent way to tell a story and add value so long as they are relevant. When you couple the lack of images with the generic content it loses its ability to engage the viewer with any relevant message giving it a “work in progress” flavor.
The site looks every bit what one would expect a Grand Lodge website to look like. But when you drill down into the pages the visual cohesiveness becomes diluted and difficult to associate with the state it is said to represent. Taking it in a overall context, it feels incomplete. The form is in place, but it seems to be waiting for the fine hand to weave into it the meaningful (and relevant) images and content. Or even for an attentive hand to manage the links so as their connections are relevant.
From a visitor stand point there are lots of questions I’d like to find out about by coming to the site: “When did Arizona Masonry begin”? “What do Arizona Masons do”? “Why would a young Arizona man want to be a Mason”? And “How would he best do that”? These questions are all left unanswered when a visitor comes to the Grand Lodge of Arizona site. By not answering those questions, it leaves a lot of leads (and conversions) unanswered and potentially result in even more turned off and disinterested visitors.
Coming up next – The Grand Lodge of Arkansas