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Critique: Presidential Candidate Websites That Get My Vote

So the race for the Presidency is really gearing up. Without getting political about it, I took a look at the candidates’ websites.  Which websites — in my opinion — are the most appealing and effective?  Which candidate got my vote for best website?

I took a look at the election websites of President Obama, Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, and John Huntsman.

These are the criteria I used…everything is judged by the home pages you get to after the sign-up landing page most candidates use, and the appearance of the website home page “above the fold” or what you tend to see of the website on a desktop computer without having to scroll down.

Most Appealing Website: Michelle Bachman

Michelle Bachmann, hands down, has the most visually attractive and best designed website of the group.  The Obama team has a lot of work to do (I think they should have come up with a fresh new graphic for 2012, but that is the least of the website’s issues), and Jon Huntsman’s website is clearly the worst appearing.  Newt Gingrich has the best campaign graphic of the bunch, and the website really isn’t bad at all, but it’s awful heavy on the “all-caps” which makes it appear a bit aggressive (which may have been intentional).  Mitt Romney’s website doesn’t do much for me except for the iconic navigation, which is truly well-designed and functional.  However, it is more eye-catching than the Obama website.  All of them are, except the truly lame Huntsman site.

The Gingrich campaign really has a good logo

The design misfired. I believe the intent was to make Obama make ridiculous, but the graphics actually make him look pretty cool!

Sigh.  Listen, I told you this was not about politics. I have to call it as I see it.

Most Effective Use of Home Page Video: Michelle Bachmann

In my opinion, a political candidacy website has to have viewable video, preferably YouTube video, on the front home page, above the fold.

Obama 2012 and Huntsman missed the boat on this. Completely.  Michelle Bachmann, once again, rocked it with the absolute best use of video on the home page of all the major candidates. Perry comes in at a distant second because the video is right in the fold and is so small.  Both Romney and Gingrich opted for large images that link to videos played on another page.  That’s okay…but I really like that video player right on the home page.

You may not agree with her politics, but you have to admit she has a good website

Best Placement of Social Media Links: Michelle Bachmann

Michelle Bachmann took this category by a landslide.  Say what you will about the Tea Party but they really do get social media.  The other candidates don’t even rate, except, again for Newt Gingrich.  To find any Obama social media links you have to scroll way down.  Not good!  Romney, Huntsman, and Perry didn’t have them above the fold, either.  Not a swift move, dudes: don’t discount Facebook and Twitter in this race!

The Obama team has become WAY too complacent. This blog-style website doesn’t have the punch it needs to win.

Best Use of Message: Rick Perry

I am really dismayed by the lack of emotional impact of the Obama 2012 home page. There is no message or image of Obama.  The website must present the candidate and the essence of the key message right up front.  Epic fail in that department.  Huntsman’s site is only marginally better.  When you visit Newt Gingrich’s site, you know it is Newt, but there is no real compelling candidate message.  Romney has one, but it’s so negative.  Tell us what you are for, not just what you are against.

Rick Perry’s and Michelle Bachmann’s are so much better in this regard, it’s not even funny.  Both manage to present appealing and emotional images of the candidates and their positions.  The website copy, photos, images, and design work well together to draw you in and motivate you to read more.  The race for this aspect is pretty darn close, but maybe Perry has the slight lead over Bachmann.

Rick Perry combines appealing design, images, and attention-getting copy to elicit emotion and motivate you to read more.

Final Tally

Michelle Bachmann is the clear winner when it comes to Presidential election websites.

I would say Rick Perry comes in second.

Newt Gingrich comes in third.  Mitt Romney comes in fourth.

President Obama comes in second to last.  Try harder!  Much harder!

John Huntsman comes in last and is barely a contender.

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