With the last debate scheduled for tonight, and with the nation counting down the days till Nov. 4th – AgencyTool has decided to review each candidates’ website, putting all political biases and issues aside, and declare a winner! We’ll be evaluating the candidates’ respective websites on 4 major features…
Feature #1 – Landing Pages
Both campaigns feature their slogan of choice and cliche graphic of the ticket name prominently. Obama’s landing page has a simple design with a single family portrait style image. There’s an option to sign-up with your email address, but it’s pretty easy to get straight to the main homepage via the skip button. McCain’s landing page has much more content, featuring several videos set to play on repeat and four different options on how to get involved with the campaign. And the winner is…
We’re going with McCain on this one. Each landing page is equally easy to navigate through, but McCain’s offers more in the way of information and opportunity to get involved.
Feature #2 – Home Pages
Both sites have focused on recruiting for volunteer efforts in the area above the fold, have news and events sections below the fold, and have similar top navigation. They also both feature video feeds prominently, although the content differs. McCain has one video per day, while Obama has several different videos available.
Obama’s site has a cleaner look and still manages to display more total content. It feels more Web 2.0-ish (we realize this is not a technical term) with interactive maps, blog feed, and social media options directly on the homepage. McCain had a feature we got excited about – a choose your position bar (choices were supporter, undecided, or unregistered voter). However, after testing it out by having several different people pick different options we were disappointed to find out that the site doesn’t change at all in response to your selected viewpoint. Round 2 goes to…
While the pages were more similar than not, Obama’s more up-to-date look and extra content gives him the advantage. Not to mention that McCain gets downgraded for having a potentially great tool that doesn’t work, or is just there to record IP addresses. On a sidenote: Google awards a PR8 to both candidate’s sites, and according to this post from ZB Blog Obama’s site pulls in much more traffic.
Feature #3 – Use of Blogging/Social Media
Again, more similarities here than differences. Each site has a blog with RSS feed, and does a great job of getting different types of content included – both make use of video, news articles, and candidate activity update type posts. Interestingly, both blogs steer away from commentary on the issues. On a positive (somewhat surprising) note, the comments section of both blogs doesn’t seem to be too heavily moderated. There are negative comments on each candidates blog – props go to both camps for not censoring the public.
As far as social media goes, McCain has the basics – links to MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. Obama on the other hand, covers a wider range with a total of 16 social media options, those on McCain’s site plus twitter, flickr, linkedin and more. Obama’s site includes these links on the sidebar of every single page on the site, while McCain’s are on one page only. McCain has another interesting feature here – awarding points to users based on recruiting friends, posting pro-McCain comments on blogs, attending events, etc.
Though its close, we give the edge to Obama. We’re excited that both camps have recognized the importance of social media and are actively engaging with it, but Obama’s site makes it easier to use and has a fresher looking blog with a greater variety of content.
Feature #4 – Issues Page/Store/Targets
This last section is a sort of catch-all for the rest of the aspects of the two websites. Each candidate’s site does a great job with their respective ‘Issues’ pages. Both are organized into clear categories (i.e. Education, Economy, Homeland Security) and the information given is – for the most part – a clear and concise summary of the candidates position and plan of action. Indeed the official websites are one of the few places you’ll get a straight answer from either campaign. It was also nice to see that both sites had links on how to register to vote, and an “En Espanol” button that made the websites visible in Spanish.
In true E-Commerce spirit, both sites also had online campaign stores. They had similar products available at similar prices, and the only real difference was that McCain’s store was operated independently. Proceeds from the McCain store “do not benefit McCain-Palin 2008 and should not be considered campaign contributions” where as Obama’s campaign gets 100% of their store’s proceeds.
A final component of the candidate’s we’re taking a look at is the targeted information areas (for lack of a better term). McCain calls his “Coalitions” and they include Americans of Faith, Arab Americans for McCain, Bikers for McCain, etc. Obama calls this section “People” and the topics include People of Faith, Students, Small Business, etc. We took this a different approach to the same thing and each did a good job of pulling group-appropriate content together.
Yeah, this one’s an even draw. Without getting into specific political issues and looking at these features from a strictly design/content perspective each of the candidates’ sites is exemplary…Job well done!
Obama’s Site: 3
McCain’s Site: 2
While it wasn’t a landslide, Obama’s site is the clear winner based on our criteria. Think we missed an important feature of either candidate’s site? Don’t agree with the results? Leave a comment and let us know.