In part four, I take a look at the recent website redesign by John McCain and compare it to his previously all black website.
I believe I’ve said this on my blog before. This presidential campaign has largely been about change. Most significantly, a change from really horrible design in political campaigns to truly beautiful design and focused branding, most on the part of Obama’s campaign, but most recently with McCain as well.
Finally, candidates are seeing the value of a great brand and beautiful design. By ‘great brand’ I’m talking about the cohesive theme and logo. For Obama it has been ‘Change’ and ‘Hope’. For McCain it has been ‘maverick’ (or is it ‘a couple of mavericks’?) and ‘Country First’. What I think is even more effective is a theme that gets placed on a campaign by the public. In this case it was in the form of Internet viral advertising, especially the ‘Yes We Can’ music video. I can’t think of a viral advertising ‘brand’ that has been placed on the McCain campaign. There have also been some negative viral advertising affecting Obama such as Internet rumors that, ‘He’s a Muslim.’ As Campbell Brown on CNN pointed out a few days ago “So what if he is a Muslim? Since when was that a disqualifer for president?”
The website design for both candidates can make or break them in terms of young vote. Young people are all about hip and cool. That’s what first draws them to a candidate in some cases, then they look at the issues. This isn’t the case with all young voters but for some it is. So how does a young voter remain on a website that is black, gray and a little blue with pictures of people their grandparents age? The answer is: ‘they don’t.’ So as I first visited McCain and Obama’s website you can guess which one I was drawn to more, especially as a designer. A young voter’s life is always ‘changing’ and they usually have much ‘hope’ for their future. And what is it that Obama has focused his campaign on? Hope and Change. What do people want after Bush’s presidency? Hope and Change. What do I want a little more of in my pocket? Change. (haha, get it?)
Before McCain’s website redesign at the end of the summer, it wasn’t successfully keeping young voters there and giving them something to grab hold of. His website color scheme was a depressing black and blue and there were about thirteen pictures of him on his biography page (mostly black and white). That is thirteen reminders of how old he is. The constant replaying of McCain’s POW video on his website didn’t connect with young voters since it is from a war so far removed from our generation. Also, McCain’s stance on the Iraq war is not striking a chord with young people as a whole. For example, the statement about being in Iraq for one hundred years. Overall, I concluded last spring that McCain was not reaching young voters and needed to utilize his website in better ways.
Finally a Redesign for the Maverick
What do you get when you have just one maverick? A black and gray website. Add a younger, less-experienced maverick to the team to make ‘a couple of mavericks’ and what do you get? A website very similar to the competition. I say this because McCain’s website changed for the better about 2 months before adding Sarah Palin to his mavericky campaign. Check out my screenshots of the McCain website next to the Obama website. If I were to just glance at these, I would guess they were from the same campaign. Almost identical blue, glowing white shadows/lights, addition of ‘people group’ mentioned in a previous post. Why would anyone want to go from the deathly black and gray to hopeful blue and glowing lights? It might be that they noticed Obama’s website was well designed, structured and communicated their theme of change and hope. I guess communicating the theme of ‘country first’ is visually depicted identical to that of ‘change’ and ‘hope’.
That, or the McCain campaign generously borrowed design ideas from a better looking website. How blatant can you be? I believe my side-by-side image says it all.
In part five I take a look how Obama and McCain are getting out the vote and recent online buzz (Keating Economics, Fight the Smears, Yes We Carve, etc)
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