Campaign websites, when thoughtfully constructed, populated, and maintained can be one of the most useful tools in your campaign toolbox. They act as a repository of all of the campaign’s news and media content, social media posts, video clips, mailing list sign-ups, links to social media pages, information on the campaign’s stand and point of view on key issues, and the all-important campaign donation function. Campaign websites help identify potential voters and provide a wealth of information that can help shape other campaign tactics.
Creating a campaign website for your candidate or cause is both an art and a science. The art of telling a compelling story can play a big role in getting your candidate the kind of support and exposure a successful campaign requires, the science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), data and analytics, and a healthy dose of fundraising are something all campaign websites should have.
What else should a campaign website have? Think about your favorite sites. Why do you prefer to select one over others? What features do they have that keep you coming back time and again? Make a list of the features you enjoy as you are surfing the web. Once you have identified what makes those sites your favorites, try applying those same principles to the campaign website. Set realistic goals when creating a website, link those goals back to the overall campaign strategy.
Having a campaign website is integral to a campaign’s strategy, yet so many websites are difficult to navigate, lack energy, fail to communicate a campaign’s message, or are littered with stale, out-of-date information. Here are a few key items to consider when creating or updating a campaign website.
1. Be Eye-catching
Give visitors to the campaign website something to look at. Bold but easy-to-read graphics, engaging images of the candidate, but also the campaign-in-action, out-and-about in the community, interacting with voters. While more formal headshots are the norm, presenting the candidate, campaign staff, and volunteers in a more informal light helps make the candidate more approachable. When in doubt, be personable with your words and images.
2. Be Legible
Speaking of eye-catching content, that content also needs to be readable on several levels. Font size and font style, including those used in logos, should be carefully considered. Choose a simple and clean font, stay away from anything hand-drawn or hard to read. Make sure your logo can still be read if it is printed or placed in a small space. You will also want to choose engaging colors and stick to that pallet. Two to three colors will be enough and the consistency of your brand will be important.
3. Be Readable
Website content should be formatted to be easy to read on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone. Here’s one of the first places where spending the money for a professionally done website makes a real impact. Responsive design details matter, the campaign website should be easy to use without having to zoom in or out to read copy. Those kinds of details matter, even on a subliminal level to prospective voters.
4. Be Searchable
Engage website visitors by making the campaign website searchable and well organized. The term searchable has multiple means. The first applies to Search Engine Optimization or SEO. SEO is the process of including keywords and phrases through the website so it appears closer to the top of Google and other Search Engine queries. This is where the science of website design comes into play and where seeking assistance from experts is a good investment.
The other way to think about adding a search feature is as a tool to help website visitors find specific information on the site. A search function, along with clearly labeled tabs and a site map invite prospective voters to learn more, share content, and hopefully contribute to the campaign.
5. Be Timely, Be Proactive
One of the benefits of digital communication like a website is the ease of updating and publishing fresh, up-to-date content. Include regular content refreshes and website maintenance as part of the website communication strategy.
Build time and money into the campaign website budget in the planning stages. Keep your site up to date with the election. Primary wins, endorsements, or even blog updates are all important to post on your website.
6. Be Educational
People tend to visit campaign websites when they want to know more about where a campaign or cause stands on the issues. A great way to communicate that type of information is through tabbed content. Start with a robust home page, with “Meet the Candidate “or “Learn About Our Cause” content then layer in a “join Us” section for capturing visitor’s names and email addresses. Also, strongly consider adding a donation button to every page of the website. Lastly, include a site map, buttons that link out to the campaign’s social media pages, and contact information.
A separate tab for Issues will help provide more detail for voters looking for a deeper dive. Tabs for Press and Media content, including video clips from campaign appearances can be very helpful for visual learners. Don’t forget how important it is to offer closed captioning for all videos, not only for the hearing impaired but for people watching campaign ads and videos in public places.
7. Be Active with Blogs and Newsletters
If publishing a blog or newsletter is part of the campaign’s communication strategy, by all means, capture that information on the campaign website. Further extend the reach of those blogs by posting them on the campaign’s social media pages, considering emailing them out to supporters who do not have social media profiles.
Every opportunity to interact with interested parties is an opportunity to ask for campaign contributions, hopefully the website visitor will be inspired by a blog topic and donate to the campaign and re-share blog content with their friends on social media too.
8. Be Up to Date
An events tab will keep voters informed of upcoming appearances, video conference meetings, fundraisers, and other campaign-related happenings. Your events tab should always include a sign-up feature to keep voters informed of late-breaking or impromptu events.
9. Be Reachable
Don’t forget visitors to a campaign website may also be seeking information on how to become more involved with the campaign. Something simple like a contact form or a Google form to capture information and reach out to people could help you gain the volunteer support you need!
Make it simple for website visitors to contact the campaign by including a “Contact Us” option that automatically opens up email. For voters who are more comfortable calling or writing campaign headquarters, include a phone number and mailing address. Transparency in all aspects of a campaign helps build trust and interest, even these small steps make a difference.
Overwhelmed by the whole prospect of putting together a campaign website? Not sure what to do with all the data the website helps a campaign collect? Contact us. We know how to make a campaign look good and how to apply that all-important data and analytical information in ways that can help lead to winning results.