Stefan Hayden

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Design Roundup: 2008 Presidential Election

A website can not get you elected but it definitely can help. With the 08 election coming up and campaign websites poping up all over the place it’s time to get out the red pen and help the candidates build the best website they can. I know little about who is running but here are the best designed websites so far.

1
John McCain’s site is stunning in it’s starkness. No other candidate could do with their site what McCain is doing. McCain is very much down to business and this site reflects that personality by getting rid of the red, white and blue color scheme presidents are forced in to.

But visual starkness does not keep it from being interactive. The Rollover videos on the bottom are an amazing touch and really bring the site alive.

McCain has a great logo (pictured). The font is a great middle ground between serif and san-serif. In a presidential race an angular san-serif looks strong but dumb and a soft serif looks intelligent but weak. With America in such a state of “terror” it’s better to err on the side of strength. McCain displays strength with just a hint of intelligence with a soft san-serif which I think is a good stance to take.

The small star only helps with the strength as is call on his military past with out screaming about it. It really is a perfect addition to this font and creates a very strong mark to hopefully be used everywhere.

2
Mitt Romney has an extremely strong site that could really work for any candidate unlike McCain’s site. The graphics are strong and could easily stand up to the graphics of any pro design house. The layout is clean and simple with out trying to overpower the reader.

Mitt Romney has gone with a much subtler logo mark. Simple type with a red line below. He has chosen a serif font and I can hear you calling me a hypocrite already. “You said democrats used serifs!” Well I said they used soft serifs. Mitt has used a super angular serif. These strong angles help create an aura of strength while the contrast and thin lines of the font help to display intelligence.

I say McCain’s is stronger simple by effectively using a non traditional font. Mitt successfully executes a very traditional choice. McCain wins out though since his font is strong enough to work effectively on a placard while Mitt’s font would be much to thin to be seen at a distance.

3
Joe Biden finally steps up to the plate for the democrats. His site is as visually strong as Mitt’s with a high production value look. Biden’s site is not as cleanly laid out as Mitt Romney though as Biden keeps the super busy feel that many political sites fall in to.

Biden uses a standard democrat font. A Serif font with soft rounded serifs and just a little bit of contrast between the thin and thick lines of the font. The font choice is a good one but is not as dramatic as Romney and McCain’s.

What strengthens Biden’s logo is his small star. It’s a subtle mark but a good one. The way the star is slightly askew adds a lot of energy to a other wise dull logo.

4
Hillary Clinton starts the first big down step in candidate websites. It’s not bad design but visually it is not as strongly held together as the last 3 sites. She also has a very busy site and while this is standard for most candidate’s sites McCain and Romney are on top for having very clean sites.

Even though th site does not hold together visually each element on it’s own is well designed from the icons on the right to the section dividers below.

Hillary’s logo is slightly stronger then Biden’s but not good enough to take Biden’s spot. She also choses a font with soft, rounded serifs with very little contrast. While this type of font is standard for democrats I don’t think that type of font is currently right for the country. The country needs a stronger font ala McCain and Romney.

Where her logo shines a little brighter is the flag that double as an underline. It stands as a good reinterpretation of the flag and a good inclusion the flag in the logo which others have not done. An American flag is a good thing.

The waves in the flag are very soft and rounded and like the font I also think America needs a stronger graphic with stronger more militaristic waves in the flag. This seems like a small critisim but so much of a campaign is displaying the correct feeling that it does come across as a slip up.

5
Rudy Giuliani has not officially announced his campaign but he has a starter web site with minimal information. Even with out a full site you can see he has some great designers working for him. With a full site he easily jump over Hillary and if he is luck possibly Joe Biden as well.

His visuals are strong and the layout is clean. Even with this bare bone site he is out doing several other candidates.

Rudy uses a classic san-serif font. It’s a simple clean font on a blue back ground and puts a very strong image across. While it’s solid logo type it’s not doing anything special.

Giuliani makes few mistakes with his site but also does nothing too special.

6
Barack Obama has alot of the same problems as Hillary. The parts are visually pleasing but it does not hold together as a strong visual over all. He also has a very busy site and the layout is not strong at all.

Barak falls behind Hillary with his logo. He uses a very thin font that will not work well on a poster and his serifs are very small and do not add much to the font. It’s not a enough of a serif or a san-serif. It’s almost the opposite choice that McCain made.

But his mistakes do not end there. His American flag in the O is a possibly an interesting idea but has very weak execution. There are just too many fades that keep it from being very iconic. The soft fades also keep the logo from seeming strong and, once again, I think these presidential candidates need to project a very strong image to be seen as a leader.

7
John Edwards is the fist site that starts to seem a bit disappointing. The layout is good but it’s not a visually compelling. The graphics are flat and the photos are good but also not compelling.

The logo is the worst. Why is there a green swoosh for the star? Green is not a presidential color. It does not go with the red, white and blue theme of the president. Perhaps the designer felt trapped in the color theme. Red, white and blue can be very cliche but in a presidential campaign it really the right choice. McCain got away with just using black but it function more as an absence of color as opposed to an additional or different color.

His font choice is horrible. Edwards tries for a classic san-serif font that works well on placards but choses a font that is much to thick and some of the letters are poorly formed. The S makes me want to puke.

All and all John Edwards site is a disappointment for some one with such name recognition.

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