title

BLOG

Website Smackdown: Romney vs. Santorum

17 Mar 2012, Posted by EPoff in Design, Marketing, Politics, Web development
Mitt Romney's Campaign Website

I’ve been focusing on the social media element in relation to the primaries this election year and I thought it would be fun to take a look at the candidates’ websites to see who has the best site presence. I’m only concentrating on the top candidates in the GOP right now, but I’ll revisit this topic and compare Obama’s site to the winner of the GOP (whenever that happens).

I’ll be judging the sites based on four criteria:

  1. First Impression – (Max 20pts)
  2. Donation Accessibility (Max 20pts)
  3. Content (Is it worth reading?) (Max 30pts)
  4. Site Design (Max 30pts)

Total Score Possible: 100pts

 

1. First Impression (20pts)

Mitt Romney’s Campaign Site

Mitt Romney's Campaign Website

Mitt Romney’s Slider Is the Main Focus of the First Page

Mitt Romney’s main site offers a lot to take in at first glance.  There is a slider at the top with four pictures/messages about the campaign.  I think the slider moves a little fast.  When I enter a page it takes a few seconds for my eyes to figure out what I need to look at and what I want to look at.  Sliders are great in that you can rotate a lot of information in one spot, but I think they are often overused and can get in the way of the site’s message.  Once I’m able to focus on the rest of the site, the slider isn’t as distracting, but the site manager might want to think about slowing that thing down.  The site is clean with a dark blue header, off white background and lovely red highlights (it passes the patriotic test)!!  Highlights include an easy to find DONATE button in the upper right corner, social media links at the top right, and an option to get email updates.  Below the slider are a video, blog entry, news info and then at the bottom more opportunities to “connect with Mitt” and links to the rest of the site.  Overall, I think the first page is okay above the fold (the part that you see on your screen when it loads) but a bit busy below.

First Impression Score for Romney’s Site: 15pts

Rick Santorum’s Campaign Site

Santorum's Opening Web Page

Santorum’s State Specific Web Page

Rick Santorum’s site sports a dark blue background, with text over light blue/gray. It also has reddish highlights with a splash of light red/pink and it also passes the “patriotic test”.    Today there is a “Pick Rick” banner at the top with the Missouri Caucus information next to it -very timely!  There is a video underneath with a message for Missouri (I think the designers should have picked a better pause picture of Santorum – he looks a bit constipated to me).  Missouri’s silhouette is next to the video with a link to find a caucus site.  Below is a rotating slider with messages supporting the candidate.  They don’t slide at a dizzying pace, but may be a little fast to try and take in so much text.  There is also a red DONATE button at the top right and above that an option to pay via Paypal or call the 1-888 number.  Social media icons are also available at the top.   Issues important to Missouri are presented below the video and a “Continue to RickSantorum.com” link is available under the DONATE button which takes you to his main site… complete with a fast slider (just like Romney’s but with more slides) and headlines to blog/news pieces below.

Overall the state specific intro page (which does not fall into the splash page category) is a nice touch.  It shows he’s connected with the voters there and offers useful information such as caucus sites and Missouri-specific issues.   If you aren’t voting in the Missouri election, there’s a quick and visible link at the top that takes you to the main site with the donate button visible in both locations.

First Impression Score for Santorum’s Site: 18pts

2.  Donation Accessibility (20pts)

Both sites offer a donation button in the same place – upper right corner of the site, and both are bright red.  I’m going to give the Santorum site the better grade though, since it goes above and beyond, offering a direct link to Paypal and a donation hotline right above the donate button.  This is really a smart idea because there may be people who would like to donate to the campaign but still don’t trust giving money online.

Donation Accessibility Score for Romney’s Site: 18pts

Donation Accessibility Score for Santorum’s Site: 20pts

3. Content (30pts)

Romney’s main site seems a bit busy and it is hard to focus on, but his drop down links at the top take you to a great deal of information spanning a myriad of topics from Iran to Education to Trade.  He covers a wide array of topics.  He also has information for every state including voting dates,  and state specific news and information.  Of course there is also biographical information, a store and a volunteer link.  Overall, Romney’s site provides a ton of information which is easily accessible from the top drop menu.

Romney's Education Portion of the Website

Romney’s Website on Education

Content Score for Romney’s Site: 26pts

Rick Santorum’s site is easier to navigate and that may be because he doesn’t offer as much content.  Santorum’s site offers an ISSUES link which drops down to one option: Truth About Rick.  Here you’ll find all of Rick Santorum’s Op-Ed pieces which are all strung together and aren’t categorized.  There’s biographical information a call to volunteer and a store too.  The STATES link only drops to the three states with primary/caucuses on the horizon.  Other states aren’t listed at this time.

Santorum's Main Page

Santorum’s Main Page

Overall, Santurum’s site is lacking when it comes to issues.  If I wanted to know where he stands on Iran, I’d probably be better off Googling it and finding information elsewhere.  Romney, however, has a direct link right off the top drop down menu.

Content Score for Santorum’s Site: 18pts

4. Site Design (30pts)

Romney’s first page is a bit cluttered but the design itself is clean and crisp and the colors are easy on the eyes.  The site’s top links are easy to see and the drop down menus are easy to navigate and are structured so that you can access most major issues from the top.  The DONATE button is easy to see and social media links are visible at the top and bottom of the pages.  The footer offers the links again and a search bar.  The site is usable and easy to navigate.  Other than the fast slider on the main page, the site works.

Site Design Score for Romney’s Site: 25pts

Santorum’s site isn’t quite as cluttered as Romney’s on first glance, but it doesn’t feel quite as polished either.  The dark blue background works and makes the DONATE button really stand out.  The social media links and donation options at the top are a nice touch.  The slider bar on the main site is too fast with too many slides.  The slider should offer no more than four options.  There are currently eight, and that’s just too many to wrap your head around.  The top links are a bit small but are readable and the drop down menu could use some better formatting.  There are no links or social media icons in the footer.  The state specific lead-in page was a nice touch though…well designed and very usable.

Site Design Score for Santorum’s Site: 20pts

Overall Scores

Romney’s Final Website Score: 84

Santorum’s Final Website Score: 76

The winner in this Website Smackdown is Romney’s Site with a total of 84 points.  Clearly both sites could use some work, but Romney’s is the more complete and professional of the two.