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During the 2008 presidential campaign then Senator Barack Obama’s website “won” the beauty pageant with other candidate’s websites hands-down.

And it wasn’t just “beauty” in the sense of a good style and look. It was a fantastic landing page that brought you immediately into a backstage video one on one with the candidate. Then you heard him announced, got a glimpse of the raving crowd, and “followed” him up the stairs to the podium. You were there. You experienced the excitement. How could you not get enthused and vote for this candidate?

President Obama’s 2008 campaign also set new standards in using the Internet to raise funds and get out the word. In 2012, the current crop of Republican Party presidential candidates is pushing the Internet’s political envelope again.

Clearly, one way to get to know presidential candidates is to visit their websites. Obvious enough.

But you learn more than what the candidate thinks about given issues. You learn something about either their creativity/vision or perhaps the creativity/vision of their webmasters. Of course some of this is a function of available resources. But whatever the source, presidential candidate websites are a lot alike yet can vary dramatically.

Of 7 Republican candidates (counting Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman who’ve now dropped from the race) and President Obama, 5 websites used Landing Pages, 6 offered a Store where campaign items can be purchased, and 3 presented some kind of blog.

Most Interesting:

--Ron Paul’s site features a large inset box in which a counter works continuously before your eyes tallying gifts to his campaign. In addition, donors’ names and residences are listed as in Rex Rogers, Grand Rapids, MI. Both the dollar total and the names change rapidly. Eye-catching.

--Another Ron Paul distinction: his site includes a fairly lengthy Statement of Faith, like one might find on a preacher’s, author’s, or Christian college president’s website.

--President Obama’s site not only asks for volunteers to host events, the site lists numerous examples of the kinds of events a Vol can sponsor. Good seed-sowing. And, like 2008, the site is classy and well organized.

--Mitt Romney’s site uses a landing page, features more space as opposed to overwhelming text which makes the site more visually appealing, and creatively uses icons.

Most Uninteresting:

--Rick Perry’s site, Rick Santorum's website, and Jon Huntsman's site are for me least attractive. Rather basic and not visually exciting.

--Newt Gingrich’s website is text-heavy…which is to say, wordy. Surprised? So is the candidate.

Most Self-Promotion:

All candidates promote themselves, of course, but some candidates promote more than their political experience. Some promote their books.

--Michele Bachmann’s now suspended campaign website is basically selling her book.

--Newt Gingrich’s site features his wife in a section called “Callista’s Canvas.” Actually, Newt has a couple of sites marketing both his campaign and also his books and their company called Gingrich Productions. 

Most Kids:

--One interesting thing about this bunch of Republican presidential wannabes is the number of children the candidates have:

Michele Bachmann, 5 along with 23 foster kids;

Rick Santorum, 7;

Jon Huntsman, 7 including 2 adopted;

Mitt Romney, 5;

Ron Paul, 5;

Newt Gingrich 2;

Rick Perry, 2.

That’s a lot of kids. The Obamas have 2 girls.

Candidate videos telling their personal stories range, at least the ones I identified, from about 1:00 minute to well over 5:00 minutes.

So, when it’s said and done I give the website creativity prize to Ron Paul. Stands to reason, I guess. He is the maverick in this campaign.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

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