A few months ago, I had a trawl through the campaign websites for Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to see what lessons corporate web managers could learn from them. As a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union fast approaches, I decided to do the same for the ‘Vote Leave’ and ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaigns.
First up, the campaign for leaving the EU:
The official site is easy to find – it was the top hit in a depersonalized UK Google search for ‘Vote Leave’.
The first thing visitors see on arrival is an embedded YouTube video that automatically starts playing. Potentially fine – but the site’s designers assume that visitors have their audio switched on. If they haven’t (because they’re sitting in an office, for example), the video doesn’t make any sense.
Below the video is a more successful feature: a twelve-digit figure showing ‘UK contributions to the EU’, which shoots up at an appropriately alarming rate as the visitor stares at it.
Further down the long-scrolling home page, things fizzle out.
A horizontal panel of graphical links to articles and videos is difficult to scan due to unwise use of white font on light images.
Text-only ‘facts about the EU’ are too wordy to digest quickly.
A heading ‘Tell us why you are Vote Leave’ is grammatically inelegant.
Yet deeper in the site, there are some nice touches.
A ‘Briefing Room’ section makes clever use of icons to label links to specific topics, such as ‘Security’ and ‘Immigration’.
A ‘Get Involved’ area houses a pleasingly straightforward application form for those who want to help with fundraising and campaigning.
And the entire (fully responsive) site is looks good and works well on a mobile phone. Indeed, it displays better on a small screen than a big one.
On now to the less snappily-titled ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaign:
This name is a drawback on search engines. Our Google searches for ‘Vote Remain’ failed to bring up the campaign site on the first results page; users must type in the full campaign title to find it.
There are plenty lessons for corporate web managers on the home page – but mainly on things to avoid.
The main headline is in a white font, overlaid across rotating images that often make it hard to read. (Like Vote Leave, this campaign seems to be struggling with making a red, white and blue colour scheme work well on a screen.)
A mobile-style hamburger icon hides the primary navigation menu, even on a desktop screen.
Multitudes of block-capital headlines clutter the page, compete for the visitor’s attention and drown each other out.
A still image in an embedded video panel is blurred.
Britain may well be stronger in Europe, but it’s the Brexit campaign that is strongest online.
By Scott Payton