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Blue Blogging Soapbox
...rambling rants, thoughts and musings on mostly political topics - from your late night blogger.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Liberal Leadership Website Review - Update 2 
(en francais)

Three new sites for review today. I'll amend the original post so that all the initial reviews are on one page. My apologies to Maurizio Bevilacqua for missing his site in the first round. I could have swore that I searched under his first name, but I must have been fumble fingered that night and spelled his name wrong.

Maurizio Bevilacqua
Entry page with English/French option. Header area and menu is clean and simple if a little over "Maurizio'ed". (all Maurizio, all the time). I'm not sure if I care for the main page layout. 3 equal columns. In my mind the left and right sidebars take up too much space, distracting from the main, centre real estate, and limiting what can be done in that space. The menu bar looks good but the traditional 'Home' location is replaced by 'Maurizio Links'. The link page itself is of dubious value, so it's placement here is strange. The header is clickable to the home page, but I'm not sure how many people recognize this as a standard. The links would be better off in one of the sidebars, replaced by a 'Home' page. The 'Media' link could go to the sidebar as well. The three things that campaigns need to do is get people to Join, Volunteer and Donate. These three make such a nice combo together. Maurizio Fans? Not sure if this is just a place filler or if there will be some purpose to this section later.

Online donations not available. Phone number and a promise of a link to the National donation page later.

Volunteer is easily found on the top menu, sidebar and bottom of page. Good duplication

Become a member takes you directly to the Liberal Party's online form.

Media Centre - lots of 'click here's' and external links. No RSS here or anywhere else on the site. Great photo gallery with lots of pictures, you just don't know what the pictures are. Always try to caption pictures by identifying people and places and event. People like seeing their name on a candidate's site. Enhances the value of being on the team.

There is a so called 'blog', but no comments enabled, no trackbacks, has sort of a permalink on the side. Is it a blog or isn't it? There are certainly differing opinions on this. Personally I think these are more like static pages than a blog.

Policy (MaurizioViews) - easy to find on main menu. I would take the fourth paragraph, bullet it and move it up. Check out Brison's site for an example. Would make the page more readable and get the policy highlights across quickly.

No Privacy Policy

Overall a good start. Some tweaks will improve navigation and usability. As with many others though, the site falls down on the interactive part. None.


Google Link Search - 0

Google Search - unable to find maurizio.ca with just a first name

Gerard Kennedy

No entry page. French option available in the top right corner. Professional looking and quick loading. Best 'Action Centre' I've seen of all the sites. Volunteer, Donate and Join all there along with a yet to be ready "Share the message" feature. The icon row in the top right corner seems to be a strange placement to me. This eats up about 1 inch of valuable front page real estate for questionable value. The Menu bar initially looks easy to use, but the tabbed format is confusing because the tabs do not change colour as you navigate. You're never really sure which tab you're on. For some reason I didn't even notice the sub-menus until my third or fourth time through the menu bar. I think I was so focused on trying to figure out where I was on the tabs, that the sub-menus escaped notice. I'm assuming that as the campaign goes on he'll have more than one speech and one media release so we'll be able to do away with each of those opening a .pdf unexpectedly.

Breaking News - this isn't CTV Newsnet or CNN Headline news. Unless the Candidate falls down and breaks something, there really isn't a lot of "breaking" news on a leadership campaign. Takes up more valuable front page real estate. Usually these end up being nothing more than stale distractions.

Huge flash area for such a small page template. The calendar is well done. Most of the other features are still 'under development', but certainly show a lot of promise. The online community looks to be a chat feature. Share the Message has some interesting potential. There is a placeholder for a blog in the multimedia centre, but it's not active yet. One video and one .mp3 there. Hint - it's not a podcast unless you're actually casting it. Requires RSS of which there is none.

National Networks - I thought I was actually going to find something interesting here, but alas, no. Some good ideas but the site doesn't give people the tools to follow through. "Organize a coffee party or a pub night to raise funds for Gerard. Follow the instructions on this website on how to donate." Give your volunteers the tools to do this through your site. Integrate social networking tools into your site and the people will really help build a national network.

Policy - link is on the menu, but it opens up another one of those surprise .pdf files. I'll assume that this too is still under development.

Privacy Policy - link is there, but not the page. Mailto link for Contact the Webmaster is broken. (missing the l in mail)

Overall a good professional looking site, with tons of potential if all the features are developed.


Google Link Search - 0

Google Search - #1 spot

Bob Rae
Splash entry page with French/English choices. I guess waiting to launch paid off for Bob. This is my pick for best of the bunch so far. Simple, clean, fast and easy to use. The only issue I have with the front page is with no 'Home' button, the entire header needs to link back to the home page. Currently only the far right panel does (at least in Firefox - haven't tested in IE yet)

All the right elements are there (Policy, Join, Donate, Volunteer etc) . The media centre is kind of thin and the font rather small leading to readability issues on pages like the Issues, but these are minor points.

Killer Feature - phase one of the campaign is all about signing up members. Click on Bob's join page and you get a form, but it's not just any type of form. I was beginning to wonder if anyone would figure this out. The form requires at least a name and email for contact purposes before sending you directly to the Liberal Party's online signup page. They now have a name and contact method to see if you actually joined the party. Someone had their thinking cap on here and it's the little things like this that will pay off in the long run.

Bob's Virtual Community is still under development, but I'm assuming this is going to be some sort of board or messaging feature.

Donation link is there, but not active yet. Join, Donate and Get Involved are always front and centre.

No RSS or other interactive features

No Privacy Policy

Overall a very good job. As mentioned above, the leader of the pack so far, but not by much.


Google Link Search
- 0

Google Search - site not listed. (Google Adwords would probably help here) You can find it on the #1 Wikipedia entry for Bob if you scroll way down.

So that gives us 9 of the 10 so far with just Ken Dryden to come. His campaign launch is today, so I would expect his site to go live some time soon.

A couple of random thoughts that may inspire a campaign or two:

Little or no front end/back end volunteer resources on most sites. Web banners, buttons, desk top wall paper, email templates. Blogrolls - Blogs for Brison? Mi Blogs? Bennett Bloggers? Maurizio Fans? Bob's Bloggers? eCards, Message forum - coordinate letter writing, phone call in campaign, motivation, rally organization etc. Meetup

Online donation - with only the Ignatieff campaign having their own ecommerce solution, I'm starting to wonder if the party is offering to collect for all the candidates. That would allow them to take a rake off the top and supposedly the candidates then don't have to worry about it. It's the only reason I can think of why all the rest of the campaigns have just a form or a notice saying that a secure donation link will be forthcoming from the party.

I found a limited link to Belinda Stronach's last leadership site. Many of the pictures are missing, but it gives you the general idea. Considering this site was built almost 3 years ago, it would still be head of the class in this group of leadership sites. I believe the only thing it was missing was RSS feeds, but I could be wrong. (RSS wasn't really big then). Some of the most powerful features were in the backend, which unfortunately can't be accessed.

Belinda Web Archive

My overall ranking for the sites right now:
  1. Bob Rae
  2. Scott Brison
  3. Gerard Kennedy
  4. Michael Ignatieff
  5. Maurizio Bevilacqua
  6. Joe Volpe
  7. Stephane Dion
  8. Carolyn Bennett
  9. Martha Hall Findlay
The top four are very close. Anyone in the top six right now could easily vault ahead with some work. Should be interesting to watch things develop. Once all the sites are up I'll run them through some accessability checks.

Liberal Leadership Candidates Website Review - original review

Liberal Leadership Website Review - Update 1

Rob Cottingham - other reviews on the candidates websites

Paul Synnott at 8:30 a.m.    | en francais | Go to Top|

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