Do’s and Don’ts for your Campaign Website
Your campaign website is more than a virtual billboard for your campaign. Remember that you don’t want to pay too much, nor do you want to rely on a consultant who builds site using a technology that not even Bill Gates or Steve Jobs could figure out. Beware of the fast-talking Web Consultant who tells you they have a “Propriety solution”, as this usually means it’s going to be custom and its going to cost you money anytime you want to make a change to your site. I personally recommend WordPress for your website and Anedot for credit card processing. If you are inclined you may want to look at Drupal 9, but it is more costly solution.
Questions to ask yourself before you pay anyone to build your website:
What are your goals for you campaign/political organization websites?
- Build trust in both your campaign and you the candidate. Does your website encourage engagement? Does the site establish trust in your campaign’s brand or your leadership abilities? Your website is the best place to showcase your political brand. To show your voters that you’re active in their communities. To show voters your values. To encourage voters to interact with your campaign (through surveys, contact forms, or donation buttons).
- Present a clear path for the user journey. Is your candidate website user-friendly? Mobile friendly? Is the menu easy to navigate?
- Don’t miss donation opportunities? Another design trend that’s worth discussing is the use of full-width banners that feature tiered donation options. This banner increases conversion on your website by allowing people to pick from several donation options. It also gives people the option to customize the amount.
- Do have clear, visible messaging on the homepage
- The homepage of any (effective) website must capture the user’s attention. You want to greet voters with an engaging photo or visual presentation, true, but don’t forget why most voters visit your website. They’re looking for more information about you as a candidate and your campaign.
- That’s why it’s always wise to incorporate a one to two-sentence summary of your campaign’s mission statement. You don’t want your users to have to scroll too much (or too far) to find your mission, either. Keep a clear message toward the top of your homepage to increase the retention rate on your campaign website. Think of that message as an elevator pitch for voters visiting your candidate website.
- Have a page with key issues.
- This is where some candidates go overboard, such as Gov. Jim Gilmore focus on the key issues, and drive all conversations to that/those issue(s)
In short, your campaign website replaces the physical main street campaign office. Instead of people walking into pick up campaign literature, they should be able to download all of your campaign in a PDF format. Make it easy to donate and volunteer for your campaign. They should be able to order campaign signs, bumper stickers, etc. from your website. Sen. D’Amato’s rule asks for a donation for everything from a bumper sticker to yard signs. As for the $1 bumper stickers, buttons, and $15 dollars for campaign tee shirts… you can certainly give them away, but most people will be willing to pay a little bit for these items.
What Are the Do’s and Don’t’s of Building a Political Campaign Website?
Keep in mind the main goals of your campaign website: (1) to build trust in your campaign by (2) presenting voters an easy path to (3) a clear message.
Do incorporate website design trends
The best political campaign websites follow modern trends in political website design. As you design your website, ask yourself a couple questions:
Does your website have a sense of movement? Candidates are incorporating moving elements into their websites increasingly more often.
Do include videos, video campaign ads, video messages or download able snipets of your campaign positions on various issues. Include video or audio testimonials from everyone for everyday folks to elected officials.
Incorporating motion into your campaign website design conveys a sense of action, something voters look for in their preferred candidates. Voters aren’t just looking for a leader who takes action, though. The modern world is fast-paced, and voters want to know that their political candidates are tapped into the issues of the day.
Lastly 508 Compliance really doesn’t apply to campaign sights but you should strive to get to about 65% to 70% compliant with your website. I know 508 is a pain, however in a future article I’ll break down basics of 508 compliance and how to get to the 65 to 70% ballpark.
Don’t have cluttered information – keep your page clean and easy to read, KEEP IT SIMPLE
Having a homepage that’s too busy will detract from your political campaign’s messaging. It’s tempting to throw everything at the wall, but a visually pleasing homepage that doesn’t overwhelm the user is key to mapping out the user’s experience.
Don’t have too many colors – stick to your 2 to 4 campaign colors you have selected
Don’t skimp on the about page
Unlike the homepage, the “About” page should be more robust. Your “About” page is a vital source of information for voters: it tells them all about you, the candidate. This page not only lets people get to know you better, it helps them understand your history and how they can relate to you as a person.
The “About” page develops your campaign’s brand and helps clear up space on your homepage.
Don’t skip SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) will help increase the visibility of your political campaign website. This step is crucial for your site to get noticed by and gain traction with search engines.
SEO attracts people to your site—which is ultimately what gives the chance to engage with voters and hopefully secure donations or voter support. It’s well worth the time and effort to optimize your political website for search engines.
One way to accomplish optimization is to start a blog and target keywords relevant to issues central to your political campaign. This approach gives you a chance to expand on your branding and reach even more people.