What are the best political websites?
January 31, 2006 1:40 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite websites of political candidates and why? What do you like about them - hate about them?

My blog has earned me the reputation of being the website and politics girl when I'm really not all that design savvy. (Heck, I'm not even that politically savvy.)

I'm doing the website for a teacher-friend of mine that is running for a State Representative seat this year as a favor.

I'm trying to make the website as usable and as design friendly as possible - hence my question.

Thank you in advance.
posted by tozturk to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Matt Dunne lives near me and had a site up when he was running for state Senate and now he's repurposing it to run for Lieutenant Governor. I like it because it does all the things that a basic campaign site should do including givcing people a way to get in touch and a way to contribute money and a way to see a lot of good photos of the candidate. He does a few more things like helping people vote by mail in our County. I live in a mostly rurtal community where people aren't too savvy technologically and this site manages to be clean and professional looking while at the same time being pretty easy to understand even for someone who is pretty new to the web. It's also red white and blue without being totally red white and blue which is easy on the eyes if you've been looking at a ton of blinky starts and stripey sites.

The one thing I didn't like about it, when he was running for State Senate, was that after the election he still had a lot of parts of the site which said "help me with my senate run!!" and just looked a little silly, since people were still going to the site to contact him as his role as State Senator. With political sites in general, I feel that they tend to use a lot of flashy attention-getting devices like weird java-text-crawl marquees, or a lot of animated GIF or just logos of all the people that support the candidate which clutters up the main page and makes your candidate look like he'she is already owned by people with big names.

Mefi user By the Grace of God has done some political websites, you might want to drop her a line if she doesn't comment here.
posted by jessamyn at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2006

While I don't ascribe to their politics, and I'm not even British, I always thought the Conversative Part site was useful.


It's well laid out, but more importantly, all of their "issue statements" are right up front. Here's what we think, here's how we succeed, here are our beliefs, our key challenges, etc.

Their "top story" right now is simply "How to succeed where Labour has failed." If I'm visiting a candidate's site, that's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking to learn about. What's your plan, what's your stance on the relevant issues?

There are no giant photographs of the party elders on the front page, either. I could care less what your wife/husband/kids look like.
posted by frogan at 1:51 PM on January 31, 2006

Conversative Part

Oh jeez, I can't f'n spell. Conservative Party.
posted by frogan at 1:52 PM on January 31, 2006

I've built numerous political/candidate web sites. I've stopped working in this field because it always boils down to some moron in the campaign who thinks they know more than the consultant (me) they hired and fucks up the web site. It never fails and will happen every single time.

I have generally found that most people working in political campaigns are clueless, have huge egos, and don't like to admit they know nothing about the Internet or how to use it effectively and correctly to help their campaign. No wonder the Dems are fucked.

That said, there are a few consulting firms out there who know their shit and do a good job. You can go with the cookie-cutter approach that Josh Ross and team used for both johnkerry.com and hillaryclinton.com, or you can hire firms like EchoDitto, Blue State Digital or the guys at Advomatic.
posted by camworld at 3:46 PM on January 31, 2006

Wow, the new Conservative site is rather good (much as it pains me to say that).

For an individual candidate, I quite like the approach taken by the Labour MP Tom Watson - the site isn't going to be winning any design awards, but I like the simplicity, and on arriving at his home page, one can immediately access all the information one might need, and I believe he's found using a weblog format has improved communication with constituents, as well as just being a friendly way (for want of a better term) of getting the word out on what he's up to. I guess the key thing there is that Watson's site is in his voice, whereas MP's sites often seem to be written by researchers, and so read like a series of press releases.

So, I'd say the main things to bear in mind would be clean simple design, with very clear navigation (which goes for any site, obviously), making the candidate's stance on key issues of the campaign made immediately obvious, with the whole thing voiced in an accessible, personal, way, providing opportunities for site visitors to communicate directly with the candidate, whether that's using comments on news items or policy statements, or making an email address/phone number prominent and inviting feedback and discussion.

On this last point, I've not done sites for political organisations but have consulted/done a bit of redesigning work for a campaigning charity - directly asking for feedback from users on individual news items, policy announcements, etc. not only proved popular with exsisting supporters, it led to an increase in membership as folk got engaged in debate on the site itself, or via email with volunteers, so from that experience I'd assume it'd be no bad thing for a political campaign site...
posted by jack_mo at 6:05 AM on February 1, 2006

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