Friday, September 03, 2004

A quick review

As comicstriphero frequently uses her expertise and position to pass comment on all things election I thought I would take the chance opened up here to make use of one of the few things I know about: websites.

I have performed a very quick review of the websites comicstriphero has pointed out and will now torture you with my learned appraisals. This isn't as silly as it seems - in the US campaign and politican websites are big deals. The web is taken seriously and real effort is put into the web presence of those who need to persuade. Even bloggers get press passes to the Democrat convention. Looking at the websites below one would think it was 1997 and everyone was discovering animated gifs for the first time. As with all things web, Oz is a bit slower to respond and my, how it shows with the small sample below.

Malcolm Turnbull: A distinct lack of content on the most important and timely pages - the news. His news employs a large amount of white space and several lonely looking links. Once inside the site his template works ok and his information architecture isn't too bad but there is a late 90s feel about this site. He is trying to look hip and happening with this web thing by including his 'blogs'. And what interesting reading they make. By the way Malc, it's blog singular and posts plural. I also suspect he doesn't write these posts. Whoever would have guessed.

Gary Nairn: Poor page design, poor information architecture, shmaltzy images (oval frames anyone?) but quite possibly gives the impression he is seeking: "I'd rather dig in the dirt than work in a bloody office with those p**fs." Also, not sure about this web thing, the site tells you where to click, in case you didn't recognise a link when you saw one.

Tony Abbott: Assures us that no taxpayer money was used to fund the site and how it shows. Italics are so difficult to read on the screen but Tony insists on using them in large chunks and in an image. Couldn't he find the italics tag? His news runs off the screen and opens without warning to PDF docs. A usability nightmare.

Larry Anthony: a semi-professional look at first glance but further investigation reveals a half-arsed attempt by someone who got excited about something they did in Photoshop and then threw the site together in an afternoon. His moving image at the top is bloody annoying, other images are blurry and his photo looks like it was taken in the 60s. Perhaps it's his father?

Alan Cadman: What the hell is that content on the front page? "I saw almost every student from these schools..." - what, when you were sitting in your car watching as they came out of school gates? What is that about? Again, goes the whole hog with the banner but seems to forget that you actually need to have something interesting to say on your site otherwise it's just graphic design. His news headlines are riveting: "Water" "Police" "Men" - oh to be able to sub-edit with such wit. Next.

Treasurer: Now this looks better, obviously it WAS paid for with taxpayer money. A little too heavy on text with unclear headings, the eye has trouble orienting itself on the page. Information archiutecture not bad. There is though, a caretaker site connected that, we are assured, is not maintained by the Commonwealth. It's branded the same and has his picture, so who is looking after it? Surely the use of the branding constitutes a Commonwealth allegiance? Misleading.

Phillip Ruddock: Oh my eyes! Once my eyes stopped shimmering I could only shudder at the use of white text on a blue background. I also noticed that the designer felt we wouldn't recognise Phil and added a handy arrow pointing to his head. Obviously his job is incredibly exciting: his "Hot topics" area included no more than one. One hot topic. Oh. Strangely he makes use of two different branding schemes. One blue, the other orange. Obviously hoping the subtle difference between the two colours wouldn't be picked up on. He does though include a link to the PMs site. Arselicker.

Joe Hockey: Probably the most professional looking of the lot. Looks can be deceiving though. Information architecture not bad, includes user interaction through an online poll (perhaps he's fishing for campaign ideas). His use of the banner ad technique on his own site is interesting though. He advertises himself. Oh, and his library includes a category called "WWWW links". Is there something Joe knows that the rest of us don't?

Julia Gillard: Unprofessional in the extreme. Looks like something someone created circa 1996 with every animated gif and html trick they found on the web. Uses slow-loading Flash for her banner when a straight image would have done. Information architecture is suprisingly not bad but generally there are too many moving parts and empty pages - in crucial areas like media releases and speeches. Looks like she's not doing much.

Jill Hall: The first time I tried to access this site it crashed my browser. I thought it must have been some shit-hot thing that was way too hot for my little machine. Alas, it's another circa 1996 job. Too tricky by half. If you think animated gifs are tricky. Informs me that "You are visitor" Well, yes I am but haven't you forgotten something?

Kate Lundy: Kate obviously means well. Her site is so sincere. She tells us about the flower motif that is scattered liberally throughout her site. But nothing can save this design. Fonts ahoy! Decide on a font and stick to it is my advice. Someone is obviously trying to work out those tricky alignment tags because I am not sure how to recreate this creative alignment on purpose. A design disaster.


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