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

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Liberal Leadership Website Review - Update 9 
(en francais)

Hedy Fry
Nice, simple and quick entry page with English and French options. Just one problem, the French isn't actually a French translation of the site. The site is using a Content Management System (CMS) called Drupal. Drupal is probably one of the most powerful and versatile open-source CMS. It's also one of the geekiest. Extensive knowledge of PHP and MYSQL, although not absolutely required, is a definite asset. The French translation offered here is nothing more than the Drupal French template which will translate all the core features and menu, but none of the addon or content, unless you specifically enter those translations yourself. So, when you hit the French button (and some of the other languages listed on Hedy's site), you get a mish mash of some menus and links in French and the remainder of the site in English. This includes the top buttons and menu links. If you're not going to offer a real French translation, then don't fool people into thinking you are.

The very top menu forms a sort of action centre with $upport Hedy, Join Hedy's Team, Get in the Loop and Buy a Piece of History. The "$upport" is hokey as far as I'm concerned. At least when you click on it, you're taken to a donation page utilizing Paypal. That puts Hedy in front of 80% of the other candidates. Paypal is easy, secure and very cost effective for this sort of thing. "Join Hedy's Team" is a roundabout way to get you to join the Liberal party. After a bunch of info that most people won't read, you're offered a link to 'renew your Liberal Party Membership'. Clicking on this link takes you to a basic form that will collect your info for Hedy's team. That's a good thing - just buried one more level down than necessary. What happens if I'm not already a Liberal? Do I click the link to renew or go elsewhere to find a "Join" button. (not to be found). After filling out at least a name and email, you're taken to a page called "webform" and now offered a link to take you to the Liberal party join page. Trying to emulate Rae's join feature here, but not quite cutting it. "Get in the Loop" tells you to join, but then doesn't offer you any way to do so. The whole join, get in the loop process is confusing and self-defeating when trying to recruit. "Buy a piece History" at some point is supposed to turn into a retail store.

Next level menu is all Hedy, all the time. "Hedy's History" (Bio), "Hedy on Hedy" - not sure - a blog of sorts? "Visioning the Future" - policy (check back later), "Hedz Sez" - this is supposed to be a blog, so what is Hedy on Hedy for? Headlines - highlights one of Drupal's powerful features, aggregators. Using a Google News search, an RSS feed is created and added to the site. Now anytime an article is indexed by Google News about Hedy, the site will automatically grab it. (Now you just have to hope someone writes something about you. Hint: it will aggregate blog and other content as well). "Links" is a nice surprise and one I've been waiting to see on all the candidates sites. Hedy's sites provides links to all the other candidats sites. She encourages people to visit, check things out and come back and compare. A very nice touch.

The sidebar is another sort of mish mash. The login screen is at the top, and a really bare bones navigation menu underneath. If you sign up for the site and login, the navigation menu jumps to the top. It doesn't really offer much once you are logged in. There is a potential for forums, but none have been defined as yet. The events module is confusing. Clicking on the little pic, as most will probably do, is for ICal enabled browsers only. Great if you have a MAC or Mozilla Calendar but useless for everyone else. The "more" link actually takes you to the calendar.

The front page is where CMS can shine. Content is easy to add. The page is straight forward, although still stuck on campaign launch day. Nice little embedded video of the launch.

No RSS feeds, blog is awaiting use.

Policy - forthcoming

No Privacy Policy

Overall a very shaky start. Drupal is very powerful and versatile but the campaign needs to tame it and organize the site. The French issue is a large negative. Lots of potential here, as with some of the other CMS sites.


Google Link Search - 2 - dead links to old site

Google Search
- #1

Bob Rae
Two steps forward, one step back. Recent News and Upcoming events have been added to the sidebar. RSS feeds have been added to top menu. "Join Bob's Virtual Community" has been removed from the main menu and given a prominent place at the top, centre of the site. Front page now has a Welcome message and a nice embedded message from Bob. Joining the community takes you to a sign up page. I felt like I was applying for a job when filling it out. KISS principle applies when you are first trying to sign up people. Once logged in, you are presented with a very formidable volunteer skills sheet. By default everything is set at 'no'. Not really sure about this implementation of collecting data. It seems sort of overbearing instead of enticing me to participate.

The once very good Join has been disrupted with what I think is a bad link. Clicking on it now takes you to a login screen. You either have to login or subscribe to the Virtual community. Gone is the opportunity to join the party. Not Good.

7.5/10 (fix the Join and we can bump this to 8)

Stephane Dion
Links to French translation and Contact added to top, under search box. "Why I'm Running" renamed to "How I See it" which takes you to the "Speeches and Position" page. Much better layout and presentation. The "Get Involved" area on the front page now has an email collector underneath that takes you to a different form page. A "Keep me informed" email box now follows the user on most pages. Now all the site needs to do is add Join and Donate to that following. Some minor improvements, but improvements nonetheless.


No other changes noticed on the other sites, other than a smattering of somewhat new content. (exception remains Ignatieff's site). Looks like Brison volunteers are still selling info to other Brison volunteers. :)

One hint for a couple of the sites. What's with the 1.2 and 1.9 mb pics, squashed down to fit on the site? Even on high speed, these are a drag on page load and there are still some dial-up people out there that are really pissed at you right now.

One last note - there must be at least one Liberal out there who reads these reviews who can contact Martha Hall Findlay's team and let them know what a REALLY BAD idea it is to solicit Credit Card donations through an unsecure form and email submit. I've tried contacting through the site and by email. No luck.

Blue Blogging Soapbox's Liberal Leadership Review Page
- all the reviews and links to other Leadership related sites.

The Race to Stornaway - Calgary Grit has compiled all his links into one post. He pledges to update as often as Joe Volpe does!

WE Speak at 1:05 a.m.    | en francais | Go to Top|

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