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Presidential Candidate Web Sites

What are some of the best things you have seen online this year as the 2008 presidential campaign gets underway? What are some of the unique things that some of the candidates are doing to be different?

By Chris Tingom

Principal of Tornado Design, a Phoenix, AZ based web consultancy

7 replies on “Presidential Candidate Web Sites”

You know, I don’t really care what a candidate does ‘differently’ or not on the web. What I’m really looking for much more than a so called connection with the youtubers and myspacers — especially when it’s laughable how clueless they are to the goings on in those spaces — is a feeling of genuineness. Too many (all?) of the candidates are suffering from becausewecanitis when it comes to incorporating media and other 15 minute famer bells and whistles into their online presence.

A little less gloss would be refreshing to see — across the board.

Sorry for the mini rant, but your question reminds me of the typical ‘best practices’ speech — uuuugghhh. My response — let’s do this — forget them, let’s do what’s right for us / you.

Ok, so let’s take that a step further. What does a feeling of genuinness mean?

Does it mean that this person puts up a lot more videos that are of them talking about what they think about issues and explaining how they would go about solving them?

A lot of the candidates put up videos that are of their interviews on television. Not many of them do super unique stuff.

Well, I guess what I’m getting to is these candidates have a whole schlew of advisors and consultants and handlers who tell them what they need to do in terms of every move they make (online and off) with no more consideration than what the stats and the best practices of others do or say. They’re in the business of crafting a personality that fits everyone, instead of bringing out the best of what’s already there naturally (genuineness).

All these handlers have all but one desire…to eek out a win for their candidate, so they’ll have another notch in their ‘my candidate won’ belt to take on, show and impress the britches off the next campaign they’ll go work for.

The web designers and developers on these committees typically just do as they are told — “Mike, get John up on MySpace today — and find some hip kids to sign up as his friends…we’ll need about 50,000 friends initially, because Hilary’s already got 46,112 so we need to beat her out of the gate…blah blah blah”

Sometimes it works sometime it doesn’t. Look at John’s MySpace page compared to Hilary’s.

See how McCain’s, even though it ok in it’s design just comes off totally as a fish out of water? It’s not real. McCain has no clue what MySpace is — guaranteed, and it shows. Hilary on the other hand, is probably clued in to that segment, so her page looks like it belongs there.

Contrastingly, we had McCain’s POW-themed pre-announcement website that went against everything design wise and worked. Compare that to Hilary suddenly having a deep southern accent when speaking in Kentucky not too long ago.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I believe the designers and developers who take on jobs such as these need to take on a more preeminent role on the marketing and educational side of the web. Maybe it’s a necessity for candidate’s to have a presence on MySpace and YouTube and Facebook and everything else. If that’s the case, then bring on web folks who know that side of the web — not from a professional, polished, look how many hits I can get you perspective, but a honest been there, done that view.

Someone needs to tell them to stop trying so hard to work the online system of communities and to rather let the online system of communities work for them.

Did that make any sense?

I think it would be really neat if it was possible to get to know the candidates on a one on one level.

That might have been possible in the 1700s and 1800s, but today we have so many people. Voters are forced to decided on candidates purely on what they can see and hear.

I agree with your thoughts on McCain’s MySpace. It took me ages to scroll down to the list of friends. And John Edwards list of friends is people who have him in the picture.

If a Presidential candidate doesn’t register on all of these sites, it could be construed as “out of touch” and if he does he has a challenge of making a site that looks like him/her.

Interesting thoughts. Thanks.

To answer your question now 😉

I like Hilary’s MySpace page — it captures her well, and fits with the meium

I liked McCain’s pre-announcement page because it fit the essence of his experiences

I like the idea (haven’t visited the page) that Edwards’ would only include on his MS friends list only those folks who have had a picture taken with him — that creates a real connection

I like Fred Thompson’s videos (found in the lower left of his non-glossy and downright ugly website) I believe him and I’m strangely happy he has a non-glossy and downright ugly website. Kinda gives off the whole rather be workin’ than impressing vibe for me.

Obama has the cleanest, tightest, most professional looking site. Can’t stand his logo though.

Mitt Romney’s graphics are sloppy — turned me off immediately. The whole design looks like a throwback to something from the 50’s — talk about begin out of touch…I feel as though I’m being construed into something which isn’t quite right.

That’s about all I’ve paid attention to at the moment.

AWESOME! You’re the man. This is exactly the stuff I was looking for. For the record, I like Obama’s logo. I think his site might be too-good. Maybe people want a Craigslist kind of President.

I think the younger generation wants a craigslist type president. Unfortunately they don’t tend to vote in significant numbers.

Michael Badnerick of the Libertarian party got arrested outside of ASU last election for protesting during the debates. The debates were funded by AZ gov’t funds and the while the state of AZ recognizes the libertarian party, they wouldn’t allow him to debate.

Now thats craigslist.

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