As we approach the Texas primary it only seems fitting to finish the last two parts of my four part series by reviewing Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee's websites. Clinton (Part 1) and McCain (Part 2) were interesting but today I've reviewed Senator Obama's site and I welcome your thoughts in this conversation.
Logo – some interesting things are going on here. The color choices were familiar with the red, white and blue, but there's definitely more
symbolism here than with others. The blue resembles a bridge while the red and white stripes look like a road. The center of the ‘O’ looks like a sun coming up on the horizon. This is a well designed logo that lends itself to multiple uses.
Color palette – red, white and blue tell the story here. While these two words might seem contradictory, the site looks presidential yet fresh. So it’s official, your site can be be serious and yet inspire at the same time.
Personal pic – On one hand, Obama looks poised and ready, with a glimmer of hope on his face. On the other hand, he’s looking up into the sun which makes him squint and look a bit confused. It reminds me somewhat of the bewildered George W. image that we see so often. I think the thing I like most about his picture is there’s just one of him, besides a tiny headshot in the “Meet Barack Obama” section in the middle. Less is certainly more.
Navigation – Another horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page, with sub-navigation on the right of the page. They’ve gone with single words for each category which makes the navigation look very clean. It seems that the campaign is taking a cue from Apple in that they’ve used a common adjective for the different sections of their site. Much like Apple’s common use of the letter “i” in iLife, iTunes and iPod, Obama’s site has Obama Blog, Obama News, Obama Events, Obama Map, Obama Mobile, Obama Everywhere and then the oddball BarackTV.
Calls to action
– The most apparent call to action is the giant red “Donate Now” button that is pervasive throughout most of the site. This is a pleasing experience for a visitor in that they aren’t inundated with pleas for money but it’s always present in the same spot if they decide that they want to make a contribution. The Make a Difference section of the sub-navigation is straightforward and rhetoric-free.
Order of importance – based on navigation
- Donate Now
Order of importance – based on layout
- One Million People
- Donate Now
- Make a Difference
- Get Involved
- Next Up
- Obama Blog
- Obama News
- Know the Facts
- Barack TV
- Obama Events
- Obama Map
- National Voter Protection Center
- Action Center
- Obama Mobile
- Obama Everywhere
What’s missing - I’m baffled as to why all candidates I’ve reviewed so far feel the need to make their Store look any different than their main site. Obama is no different in that the top navigation is removed and moved all to the left. The header content is weak and uninspiring. When it comes to naming the sections of the site, I think it was a mistake to call it BarackTV. If you’re going to call everything else Obama, stick with that theme. In addition, Barack just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Obama. Overall, however, the design is clean, easy to navigate and inspirational.
Learn - When I clicked on this link I was taken to the Meet the Candidate page, which is a secondary link under the “Learn” top nav. This is a minor issue, but it isn’t a tactic that is followed throughout the site. Obama’s personal history is rather short and there is only one video to supplement the copy. Part of the problem is that once the copy ends there is an inordinate amount of white space because there are so many sub-navigational sections on the right, but detractors would probably say that there isn’t much in this section because Obama doesn’t have much experience to pull from.
Issues - This part of the site resembles other previously reviewed candidates with the issues listed and then a short blurb about where Obama stands and then a “Continue Reading” link for further information. Each issue is clearly labeled like Civil Rights, Disabilities, Economy, Healthcare and Homeland Security. This seems like a no-brainer to name the issue what the issue is called instead of trying to add your own spin to it. This allows voters to quickly find the issue and not have to wade through the mire. I like that even in some of the blurbs, we hear directly from Obama via speeches he’s delivered. The best differentiator for this section is that voters can download “The Blueprint for Change – Obama’s Plan for America” which is a 64 page PDF of how Obama wants to change things. The PDF gives you an issue at a glance, the problem and Barack Obama’s Plan. This is Obama’s answer to critics that claim Obama is a talking head who speaks of change and hope with no real plan to achieve it.
People - Here you’ll find specific pages devoted to different demographics like African Americans, Americans Abroad, Women, LGBT and Kids. That’s right, there is a Kids for Obama page. Now you may be asking yourself; How can my kid get involved? Well, wait no longer, with 10 Ways Kids for Obama Can Get Involved. My favorites are:
- Take an adult (voting age) to the polls on Election Day and encourage them to vote for you, by voting for Senator Obama.
Honestly, using kids to sway their parents is just plain funny. I can hear it now, “Daddy, please vote for Barack Obama! His comprehensive healthcare plan will pave the way to a brighter future for America.”
- Host a Senator Barack Obama House Party or sleep-over.
Oh goodie! We can stay up all night and talk about Senators that we have crushes on!
- Contribute to the Kids for Obama Blog
If you’re a kid and you’re blogging, you seriously need to go outside and get some sun.
States - each state has its own dedicated page with information on how to early vote, read news from your state, upcoming events, TV ads, pictures from the events in your state and groups in your state.
Blog - videos, articles, pictures, this blog is updated multiple times each day. For instance, Sunday the 24th has about 10 separate posts. This campaign understands how to use the blog to their advantage.
Store - as previously mentioned, this part of the site looks and feels different than the rest of the site which is a disconnect. The most interesting thing I found was the $3 Republicans for Obama bumper sticker, which is on back-order.
Results Center – much like McCain, Obama has a running tally up-front on his site to remind potential voters that he’s the frontrunner. This page shows a visual map along with each state and the number of delegates going to Obama versus Clinton. One nice design element here is that Obama’s states and delegate count is a dark bold blue while Clinton’s is a light weak blue. I think this is a subliminal attempt to show Obama’s masculinity and strength in opposition to Hillary’s femininity and weakness. I don’t think Obama is sexist, but I do think there is more to this than just two separate colors.
Know the Facts – This section is genius. The Obama camp has taken statements from Clinton or McCain and either used them against themselves or given a reality check as to why they’re wrong. Each section is complete with links out to articles and newspapers to back up their claims. This is so smart in that regardless if Obama is correct on the issue, they’ve taken the work out of the equation for the voter in that they don’t have to search for who said what. In addition, they defend attacks made against Obama rather convincingly. This section has its own RSS feed which makes this content very consumable.
BarackTV - Within this section, you can peruse videos by the issue, videos created by the campaign and those created by supporters. They’ve also taken care of accessibility by providing closed captioning and certain videos in Spanish.
My.BarackObama.com - much like the other two candidates reviewed, you can create an account, add friends, find events, send/receive messages, create groups, fundraise and blog. They've also called the homepage "My Dashboard" which Mac users will feel at home with.
Obama Mobile - Here you can download mobile wallpapers, ringtones and signup for periodic mobile updates. You can even receive specific issue updates, by texting issues like HEALTH, IRAQ, and REFORM to OBAMA (62262). Obama’s camp also has a twitter account, but it’s severely underutilized considering they have 6,661 followers and yet they’ve only posted 72 tweets. Since my original review of Senator Clinton's site, I also found her twitter account as well. However, she only has 509 followers and 44 posts. I still wasn't able to find one for John McCain.
Obama Everywhere - literally, he is.
- I struggle to find what is missing from this site. There is just so much content and sections that are different than the other candidates' sites that I can't give Senator Obama anything other than a perfect score here.
Use of technology
MySpace - 295,556 friends, 46,073 comments
- Hillary Clinton - 182,641 friends, 18,691 comments
- John McCain - 44,931 friends, 5,814 comments.
Facebook - 627,718 supporters, 83,325 wall posts
- Hillary Clinton - 110,460 supporters, 37,456 wall posts
- John McCain - 59,342 supporters, 5,804 wall posts
Eons - 216 friends, 1 badge
- Hillary Clinton - 297 friends, 3 badges
- John McCain - 3 friends, 0 badges
YouTube - 30,595 subscribers, 12,180,341 views, 705 videos uploaded
- Hillary Clinton - 9,829 subscribers, 1,304,419 channel views, 252 videos
- John McCain - 2,613 subscribers, 589,518 channel views, 166 videos uploaded
What’s missing - I think Obama is in every social network that is currently available. It's pretty astounding that he has a presence in this many different venues and still dwarfs the other candidates when it comes to friends and interactions. This campaign has fully utilized every bit of technology to make such a robust site, along with maintaining sixteen different profiles. Bravo Obama!
While there are some minor shortfalls when it comes to Barack Obama's web presence, his site truly stands above the rest. Regardless of where you stand on the issues, Obama has most effectively represented his brand in the interactive realm and for that, I give him four and a half seals.
Overall Seal Rating:
Part 4, Mike Huckabee will also be this week. So come back soon. - John Herrington