I present to you, dear reader, my take on the leading presidential candidates’s websites. Although I’ve been scoffed by one for this idea, I think we will discover some interesting insight into these people who may lead the free world for the next four years.
Please note that I viewed all sites with Firefox on my Mac, and with IE7 on my XP machine.
Home/splash page: Sometimes I get a splash screen displaying a jovial image of Johny with a request for you to join the site, and of course donate. The deep red for the Donate Now and Submit buttons stands out nicely against the black background. The only way to get past the splash page is a text link under the large image. Fair enough, but ugly. The home page itself is nicely organized, if somewhat repetitive. For example, there’s two identical (but for color) buttons to join and donate within 200 pixels of each other.
Color: McCain’s site is dramatically different from those of any other candidate mainly because of the primary color chosen: black. Now, if you’re trying to convey that a 71-year old can run the United States, black is not the best color to use. The banner across all pages is the stars of the American flag in black coloring. Seriously — are you trying to convey death, Mr. McCain?
Overall mood: Like Tales from the Crypt needs money for a new coffin.
Web 2.0 features:
- Blog — Tags, blog roll, comments…the works.
- “McCainSpace” Yes, it’s even spelled like that. Users can “create your own Website”. I’m not about to give him my name and try it out. Here the black motif gets serious for some reason. Every image is tinted in grays and blacks.
- RSS feeds
Favicon/logo: It looks like a general’s star. I suppose it’s just meant to signify the armed forces, which is an incredibly stupid thing to do in the general election.
Usability: The fonts and layout look pretty fresh, despite the dismal colors. I really dig the animation in the “Supporter Spotlight” section of the home page. His navigation style follows that of the other major candidates.
Desperation rating: 4 out of 10. McCain doesn’t come off as desperate here, he comes off as a man who knows his audience.
Although not related directly to his website, I want to share this story. Last week, my mom received two pre-recorded calls. The voice was female, stating she was calling from the Republican party. The message asked my mom to press the number of the Republican candidate she was going to vote for at her primary on Tuesday: 1 for Ron Paul, 2 for John McCain, and 3 for Mike Huckabee. Even though she’s never voted Republican and isn’t about to start, she entered 3 for Mike Huckabee. Then the voice thanked her and mentioned this call was paid for by John McCain. She got the very same call the following night. We joked that they’ll keep calling until she “gets it right”. How is cold calling like that effective, especially if you’re calling people who aren’t even going to vote Republican?
Home/splash page: I get a splash screen every time I visit Hillary’s site. Instead of the minimal email addressed asked for on McCain’s site, Hillary wants to know my name, zip code and email address. The home page itself displays a huge graphic/animation at the top, which I’m sure changes all the time. The “5 Things You Can Do” pod is super nice — the icons are very modern, even if they were likely taken from stock icons. The little show/hide bits in the other pods make the site feel more interactive.
Color: Light blue is always a crowd-pleaser. Everyone but McCain got that memo. Hillary’s definitely going for the red white and blue patriotic thing here, trumping McCain.
Web 2.0 features:
- Video section
- “Share Your Thoughts” forms on the Issue pages. This is a nice feature so you can respond to Hillary’s take on the world.
McCain’s team seems to be more in touch with the kids than Hillary in terms of community stuff. Sure, there’s tons of ways to “join team Hillary” and there are links to sponsoring or visiting Hillary parties, but there’s no “McCainSpace” or any other sort of faux Facebook type thing built in. Granted, she does include the logos of all the biggies — MySpace, Facebook, even Flickr. And yes, it points to Hillary Clinton’s photos. She’s got a pro account!
Favicon/logo: I guess the favicon is a mishmash of the flowy flag-like thing under her name in the proper logo, but it looks really weird. Like a bunch of random right angles. The proper logo itself is probably the ugliest of all candidates. It’s an ugly font and decidedly not modern looking.
Usability: The layout is nice because it uses a very simple grid (like everyone else’s), but all the huge logos and graphics near the bottom of the home page make it look a little trashy.
Overall mood: Very hopeful. It’s interesting to note how few pictures of Hillary there are around the site. Do they want us to forget she’s a woman? Do they know how easy it is for her to take a bad picture and they don’t want to risk it?
Desperation rating: 6 out of 10. The “Help make history” motto makes her sound like she’s the only one who would “make history” if nominated.
Home/splash page: The splash page contains a soft pic of the Obama family, huddled together with much love. His fabulously Web 2.0 logo and motto sits above the family in a simple display with plenty of breathing room. There’s no immediate request to give him money on the splash page, just a short form (email and zip code) to “join the movement”. Skipping sign up is accessed by a pretty blue button.
Color: In fact, everything is pretty and blue on Obama’s site. Everything has a soft touch to it, almost feminine. Nicely played, Barack’s web team.
Web 2.0 features: Barack’s web team knows where it’s audience is. More obviously fun than McCain’s “McCainSpace”, my.barackobama.com is like Facebook lite, even in terms of it’s look and feel. Members get a dashboard, can see who from their area is already a member, a place to blog for Obama, and other fun things to keep you glued to the site. This is brilliant marketing to the 35 and younger crowd (and other internet-savvy types). Additionally, there’s the regular Obama blog and the Clinton-esque list with fancy icons on the home page.
Favicon/logo: As I’ve already stated, Obama’s logo is pure genius. It’s a red white and blue horizon, looking as hopeful as ever. It’s all shiny and beveled, looking a thousand times more modern than Hillary’s.
Usability: Obama’s is by far the most usable site. It’s the least crammed, the least messy of all the candidate’s sites.
Overall mood: The banner on every page features Barack looking out into the horizon, symbolized in his fun little logo. He appears tall and strong in the banner image — like a leader.
Desperation rating: 4 out of 10. Obama only comes off as classy on his website, not desperate in the least bit.
One thing worth noting is the lack of a search function on all of them except McCain’s. I’m not sure what this says about Obama and Clinton. Surely it’s an intentional decision that was made by some committee, but how does not including a search function help? What are they hiding?
Another item I’ll briefly note here is the fact that neither Obama nor Clintion include gay rights in their list of “issues.”
I could go on, but this report already took a lot of time. Hopefully more analysis will come later. Let me know what you think about our favorite candidate’s web site!