Every time you turn around, the pundits are evaluating Barack Obama and John McCain’s potential to lead the country. Your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues are arguing politics. It is clear that we are in the heat of a campaign season.
But, unlike your annoying co-worker who is constantly trying to bait you into a political e-mail debate, I am going to give you an unbiased design critique of the candidates’ Web sites.
Let’s start at the top. Probably for the first time in political history, Barack Obama has broken the mold and created an elegant logo that actually has depth and truly represents his campaign for change and the American spirit. John McCain used clip art and a really bad font. Obama’s headshots are heroic and feel like they are rising above, even breaking through the proverbial borders of his own site. McCain’s heads are literally cut off and have been hacked into even more clip art backgrounds. Sarah Palin’s picture is even larger than McCain’s. Come on.
Obama’s navigation is elegant with a clear call to action. McCain’s navigation breaks on my Mac and is a jumble of colors and boxes. Obama has custom-designed icons that would make any art director drool. McCain went crazy at iStock. Obama’s donate button is at the top right of his site and his contribution page rivals buying an iPod. McCain’s donate button is on the bottom right — the last place you look — and his contribute page just recently added some lower gift asks.
Obama has BarackTV, with easy-to-navigate speeches and clips, not to mention his “Yes we can” video. McCain has negative campaign ads. His top rated ad is for World Wrestling Entertainment. Wrestling? Can he be serious? Is this really happening? I’ve seen and heard McCain. Unfortunately, this Web site does not represent him well at all.
I’m sorry Republicans, but this one is a complete landslide. Barack Obama’s Web site is one of the best examples of a political site I have seen — one that finally uses the Web to its fullest potential. It could be a case study on what to do when designing Web sites — not just for political campaigns, but anytime. McCain, you’ve let down the many design aficionados who expected so much more of you.