Election day is here and well underway. America is casting its vote, and we are deciding once and for all who has the better campaign website. If you have not read part 1 you may want to do so now. For our new readers, we are offering a non-partisan, politics free review of the two candidates. We are doing this for educational and entertainment purposes from the prospective of a web developer. But who knows, maybe we will end up picking the winner of the election based on their websites – stranger things have happened.
In part 1 we examined the incumbents website, President Donald Trump. Next up is the challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. We will examine the Vice Presidents website based on the same criteria, calls to action, the desktop website, and the mobile website. Remember, this is an opinion from the prospective of a web developer, we are not judging by political ideology!
Vice President Biden
Calls To Action
The very first thing I noticed when visiting the VP’s website is the custom greeting. The website must use my IP address to know where I am visiting the website from. I wanted to see if the President’s website did the same, since part one was written before election day. The President’s site did not have this feature. That is +1 for the VP. The custom welcome is attention getting. It feels more personal. We can see what the call to actions on this site are focused on. The Biden campaign wants to get the vote out. They have some nifty tools available to help you vote as well. If you enter in your address you are presented with a map to the nearest polling location on a Google map, the hours for the polling location, and a link to ID requirements to vote in the state. Both the website’s hero image and footer display this functionality. The VP’s website developers wanted to make sure you took advantage of the resource. The only other main call to action is a red donate button. I’m not sure how useful donations are at this point, but it’s there nonetheless.
As we did with the President’s campaign website, we will take a look at some secondary pages. The VP’s volunteer page, the closest thing to the “Get Involved” page the President’s website featured, had several features. First was information capture form. Once filled out you are given the option to make calls on behalf of the campaign, host a virtual event, attend virtual events, and more. The Biden site seems to be more Covid-19 cautious. It also seems like the Biden website is looking to organize a more grass roots campaign. The President’s website did not have tools to call on behalf on the campaign or organize events among friends and family. The President’s site seems to think that keeping their voters in touch with campaign events is the better route. A difference you can clearly see in the design of the websites.
Since the Biden campaign page does not have an event page, or at least it does not at this stage of the campaign, I will examine the About page, the first page on the website’s navigation bar. Here we are presented with a rotating list of images and campaign promises. You are given a short headline and then the opportunity to read more about the issue you want to delve into. Interestingly, the President’s campaign page has their about page much further down the navigation menu. I’m guessing that the idea is after 4 years of the Trump Presidency most individuals know where he stands. The VP on the other hand is trying to get his campaign policy noticed a bit more. The difference in campaign strategies continues to appear on the campaign websites.
Taking a look at the mobile site of the VP we see much of the same. The geo targeting is present on the mobile site, which is key for voters on the go. The call to vote is clear, and just like the home page the secondary call to action, to donate, is clear as well. The mobile site is simple and easy on the eyes.
The mobile menu system is a bit different from the President’s website. While you get your normal navigation options you also get a full list of social media links. This again, seemingly goes with the campaign strategy to connect at a grassroots level. They also know that the President has a tremendous presence on his social media platforms. The prominent placement of these links clearly shows that they know what they need to work on. Interestingly enough, there is no major call to action here that stands out. Unlike the President’s mobile menu that has a clearly contrasted button to illicit donations. The Biden campaign does not include this. Perhaps they are leaning on their homepage to reach their goals?
Finally, we have the VP’s mobile about me page. Featuring the same basic elements little is changed. The rotating list of campaign claims is essentially the same. The only noticeable difference being the dropdown menu that takes you to the campaign issue of your choice. It’s a nice way to get the information you want quickly. Just like on the desktop site, the about page is first and foremost. The VP wants to get his ideas out there. The one running theme throughout the mobile website is the calls to vote, and tool to find your local voting location. The Biden campaign is clearly betting that a large turnout will benefit them.
So, what campaign website is better? That is a tough question. As a web developer I see different tactics being used for different campaign strategies. The Biden website can’t be blamed for not hyping in person events because that was not their game plan. The Trump campaign didn’t need to get out information on the President because he has been in the limelight everyday for 4 years already. Both campaigns had sleek designs with clear call to actions. Donations were obviously key here. It’s a tough call. But ultimately the Biden campaign’s geo location targeting sold me. From a clear design point of view I do find the Trump campaign site more attractive. But as a web developer given the choice between a website that accomplishes its goals and a website that looks prettier, I would always choose the goal accomplishing website. If a campaign can be watered down to getting people out there to vote for you the Biden campaign site clearly wins that goal.
In just a few hours we will find out how accurate this exercise was. May we all have a safe election night and coming days.