McCain vs Obama: Who has the better website?

Leaving politics aside, who has the better website between the candidates? I asked an open question to the LinkedIn community. I asked respondents to describe why, in terms of aesthetics, functionality, layout, usability, technology, etc. which site they favored and why. Here’s what they said, and what I learned.


Do not mistake this post for political leaning one way or the other. I still maintain this website’s neutrality. When possible, I did delete some partisan leanings. Some comments have been left in for emphasis. However, one candidate did shine above the rest in terms of comments received.

Note: You may very much disagree with these findings. That’s great! Be sure to let us know your opinion below in the comments section.

Review the presidential candidates websites for yourself:

One Candidate Just ‘Gets’ It

This is essentially the difference between web 1.0 and 2.0 concepts. The first websites were stores of information. You found them, you read what they stated, you moved on. Modern websites leverage technology to bring the audience into the site to create a community. Blogs, comments, forums, RSS, memberships… it’s all part of efficient use of available tools no matter if you are a candidate or a business owner.

A new bar has been raised. John F. Fitzpatrick, Executive Vice President & Senior Partner at Strat@comm

By any objective measure, it’s Obama’s site. From the site itself, to online fundraising, texting and even Twitter, Obama’s team raised the bar to new heights in terms of how to leverage the full range of digital communications. There are lessons here for anyone in the communications business.

As to their websites, here are two great links. First is to PEW study that analyzed both websites in great detail. Second is a look at how Obama website visitors in vital swing states actually land on a state-specific webpage that speaks directly to them (no more cookie-cutter website, this is true micro targeting). You will have to look past the political editorializing in the second article linked below (depending upon your politics), but either way, it’s a good read on why Obama is dominating online.

Empowering vs Informing – Grant Simmons, Brilliant Strategy

From both an on-line and off-line marketing perspective the Obama campaign have completely eclipsed the McCain campaign, and it’s not always about marketing dollars, it’s about marketing savvy.

The Obama website is another example of their understanding of what connects and resonates with their base and undecided voters. McCain misses the opportunity to connect by not providing *action* over passive information.

Obama’s website empowers. McCain’s website informs.

Also, check out Grant’s worthwhile read on who generations of schoolchildren may be voting for in 2020.

Onecandidate can REST easy – Gina Groom, Web Developer at LinkedIn

For a web developers perspective idolhands.com does a fun/tech analysis.

REST is an acronym meaning Representational State Transfer. Its not a standard but it does utilize existing standards on the web.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representational_State_Transfer

“REST strictly refers to a collection of network architecture principles which outline how resources are defined and addressed.” –

Thanks, Gina. I really enjoyed that RESTful article!!! Now I don’t have to write it!

It’s what’s inside that counts – Dan Biggs, principal, Tundra Interactive

Obama has the superior website, absolutely, without a doubt. Their campaign worked with Blue State Digital, which has one of the best online campaign solutions on the market today. The front end design of the website may be pretty and look really good, but the real substance of that website is hidden in the back end.

The site’s administration tools are incredibly advanced. The site functions as a user community, where people can connect and participate in various activities but the main drive of the site is collecting donations, there are a huge range of tools available on the back end that give both the visitors and the administrators many different channels to help gain donations, from targeted emails based on donation levels, to donation matching technology that allows donors to connect and challenge each other to further donations, set goals, and reinforce one another’s commitment.

So it is the tools that Obama uses or the way he uses them that brings such acclaim?

The medium is the message – Aurora Bramble, International Financial / Creative Consultant at Derek Hart Entertainment

It is obama’s mastery of the internet medium to which he owes his success

“The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived, creating subtle change over time. The phrase was introduced in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.[1] McLuhan proposes that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study; he said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself.

The first Internet President – Derek Perez, Founder and Senior Technologist at Panoctagon

Obama easily has the best website of the two campaigns. I read somewhere that he will be referred to as the first “internet president”.

I believe that to be true. I just hope that his administration will find ways to integrate this sort of technological refinement in actual and useful ways.

Say no to spam, and yes to one candidate.

Or is it the first Social Media election? – Richard Kelleher,

PR pundits have dubbed this the first “social media” election, much like Kennedy and Nixon was the first true television election.

As for Web site (proper Associated Press style), it really doesn’t matter. It is about marketing. I’m fed up with all the spam I’ve gotten from Obama and Biden.

So supposedly Obama is winning the social media election, but he has left a terrible impression on me. If he were to win, would we call him the porker president because he’d be delivering so much spam? Think of that when you pull that lever the first Tuesday in November.

The Unimpressed Masses

Pure Tech PlayPaul Davis

Both are encoded as UTF-8 Good for being inclusive.

http://www.johnmccain.com/
HTML 4.01 Transitional
W3C Validator shows 160 errors
Jigsaw shows 225 errors
Firebug showed 88 requests to build the page in 11.2 seconds
http://tinyurl.com/54tfwo
http://tinyurl.com/6qylcb

http://www.barackobama.com
XHTML 1.0 Transitional
W3C Validator shows 33 errors
Jigsaw shows 225 errors
Firebug showed 107 requests to build the page in 4.5 seconds
http://tinyurl.com/6o7feb
http://tinyurl.com/6p79m8

I’d say both are mediocre quality with Barack’s slightly better. Interestingly, that is pretty close to how describe the two candidates.

Appearances are Everything – Stephen Lahanas, co-owner of Semantech

Senator Obama’s website is much better designed, although I wasn’t terribly impressed with either. I was very surprised though with the minimalistic approach that McCain’s site employed. I developed a state party site for the 2000 election that was about 5x more sophisticated than this one (and that was 8 years ago). The sites reflect on the professionalism of the organizations which deploy them – appearances in politics are everything, aren’t they…

I can’t disagree with this following comment. After all, I wrote Flash is Evil.

Pure Suckage – John McVey, owner, Orange Business Services

Both websites suck. Overuse of Flash is a massive turn-off.

The Undecideds

It’s the economy, stupidMarie-Dolores Anderson, Owner at Maddy Flynn’s

The one that is friendlier to dial-up connections wins. Some of us po’ folk out here still use it.

Hmm… seems pretty overwhelming in Barack’s favor. What do you think?

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