Your political website is the face of your campaign. A poorly designed website can make your campaign look unprofessional and cast doubt on your candidacy. In contrast, a well designed political website will tell your constituents everything they need to know about your campaign, your stances on key issues, and how they can support you.
Political website design has a very specific goal: presenting your values and representing your political promises through deliberate imagery and design choices. Nothing on your webpage should be accidental.
Creating a strong design for your political website takes research and expertise. Your team likely has many responsibilities they need to devote resources to, and in some cases, delegating website design to a third party professional can be best.
However, whether you want to create a website yourself or are interested in working with a consultant, you will need to know what makes a political website effective in order to properly articulate your website’s direction to your team. To help you get started, this article will go over:
- Why Political Campaign Web Design is Important for Your Campaign
- Political Website Builders: 4 Features to Look for
- Website Design Tips for Political Campaigns
- Examples of Beautiful Campaign Website Designs
A website is an investment of time and resources, so do your research to understand what you need before committing to a design or plan. This requires knowing what makes a political campaign website attractive to potential voters, how your voters should interact with your website, and why you have a website in the first place.
Why political campaign web design is important for your campaign
When voters hear your name, they will head to the internet to find out more about you. Your political campaign website will be their first impression of your entire candidacy. Today, a modern, tech-savvy website is the norm for political candidates, and even at their bare minimum, political campaign websites need to meet a certain level of design quality.
A quality website will enhance your candidacy by presenting your campaign as well funded, sophisticated, and up-to-date with current technology. Outside of just your candidate’s brand and image, your website’s design will invite visitors to learn and interact with your campaign, converting potential voters.
Establish your campaign’s values and political identity
Your website should inform visitors about your platform and stance on key issues. Ensure your political website’s design provides clear navigation that will direct visitors to a dedicated issues page. The best campaign websites provide comprehensive, jargon-free information on your plans paired with images that demonstrate your past engagement with the issues that matter most to your voters.
Your website’s design can also impact how voters will perceive your campaign. Consider your campaign’s brand identity as you start designing your website. Candidates who want to show their dedication to their community will feature images of them interacting with volunteers, while a candidate invested in environmental issues might frame their website around images of them at environmental marches.
Provide a platform for supporters to donate and volunteer
As your campaign grows, you’ll need to attract a constant stream of donors and volunteers. Since your website serves as a portal for supporters to contribute time and money, forms to sign up and get involved should be front and center on your homepage.
Modern fundraising form design is especially important for accepting donations. Outdated designs and information can make donors wary about sharing their financial information, causing your campaign to miss out on vital donations.
Allow your campaign to interact with voters
Your website helps you connect with voters by providing a space for news updates, campaign progress, and even live Q&A sessions. Some political websites also integrate chat features, allowing voters to interact with volunteers answering questions about your campaign on your behalf.
Use both your social media pages and your website to connect with more supporters and establish a comprehensive outreach strategy that makes sure your campaign will stay on top of news updates.
Political website builders: 4 features to look for
If your campaign needs help with design or tech support or just doesn’t have the time to dedicate to creating the website your campaign deserves, take advantage of political website builders.
Not all political website builders offer the same services, so make a checklist of the must-haves for your own website before choosing a service. However, there are a few essential features to look for in any website builder tool or service:
Pre-configured web pages
No matter the exact design choices you make, your website needs the following core pages: about, issues, newsfeed, contact, and a donation form. Almost every visitor to your campaign website will be looking for at least one of these pages.
A website builder that provides these well-designed pages for you will cut your work in half. Your team will still need to customize the content on these pages, but the technical heavy lifting will already be taken care of, letting you focus on communicating your message.
Social media integration
Your homepage should provide links to your social media webpages, but your campaign website also needs to go one step further. Find a web builder that integrates your social media posts into your website, allowing voters to scroll through your most recent posts without navigating off of your website.
This feature can be invaluable for generating more engagement between your site and social media profiles, perfect for showing the community the buzz that your campaign is generating.
Donation page integration
Donations fuel your campaign, and giving should be as easy for your supporters as possible. Navigating to a third-party page for donation payments can scare away potential donors as they become unsure who they are really giving their money to if the URL suddenly changes.
Integrate payment forms into your website and encourage more donations while also keeping visitors on your website to engage with other features and content.
Mobile users can’t be ignored, and a website that doesn’t accommodate mobile users will seem outdated and potentially insecure.
Check with potential web builders to make sure they’re choosing themes and design choices that automatically format pages in mobile-friendly ways. As you add and customize new content, proactively check that they load quickly and work well on mobile devices.
Website design tips for political campaigns
As you review political campaign web builders and design consultants, you’ll find examples of past clients. While most of us recognize strong web design when we see it, articulating what makes it strong is trickier without knowledge of web design principles.
To understand why some designs work and others appear to be missing something, look for these five features of strong web design for political campaigns:
Use high-impact pictures of people
The images your website uses will create your first impression as our eyes are naturally attracted to brightly colored pictures over text. Strong designs employ images that create a consistent brand identity, support nearby text, or illustrate abstract concepts.
Political websites require a specific approach for choosing images. Pictures of people attract attention and sympathy from website visitors. Given that a political campaign website aims to help voters identify with a candidate, nearly all political website designs feature images of people.
One of the key images of a political page is a hero image, or the top, main image that first greets visitors. Hero images have the following elements:
- Take up the entire space of the webpage above the fold. Hero images are big. Smart web designers know how important it is to draw a visitor’s eye, and a hero image gives visitors no place to look besides a navigation bar and a bold eye-catching image. This means hero images establish the website’s identity and provide a visitor’s first impression. For political campaigns, the hero image should be a picture of the candidate smiling, taking action, or conveying professionalism.
Here’s an example from a nonprofit website for why large images work:
PICCK’s hero image accomplishes several things: the eye is drawn to a person, key text is highlighted, and a call to action button receives added prominence for being the only clickable element without scrolling.
- Simplicity. Despite taking up so much space, hero images should not be too busy, since too much clutter or activity in the image can distract the eye. Images with simple backgrounds or one key focal point are most effective at capturing attention and conveying your website’s intentions.
Check out Canine Companions for Independence’s homepage for how to move the central part of your hero image into focus:
Like this nonprofit website, you should aim to draw visitors’ eyes to a picture of your candidate the same way this homepage draws visitors’ to its main attraction.
- Evoke emotion. As mentioned, hero images are meant to draw the eye and attract attention. However, they should attract attention to something specific and important for the website they’re featured on. For political campaign websites, hero images should evoke positivity, confidence, and other emotions that correspond with a candidate’s brand identity.
For an example of how to inspire awe, look at the American Air Museum in Britain’s homepage:
The bold angle and subject matter of the image give context for what the page is about while also inspiring a sense of wonder. Using a gradient overlay on images can also help with consistency and will brand your images to match your campaign’s colors.
All the images featured on your website should be high quality and professional. In some cases, this may require hiring a photographer to help collect photos that show what makes your candidacy special.
Educate without overwhelming
Political campaign websites need to lay out a candidate’s platform in enough detail for voters to understand without bombarding them with information. Even if you have a lot to say about your stance on issues (which you should!), strong text layouts will create a better reading experience by:
- Keeping line lengths short. While we are perfectly capable of reading lines of text that stretch across an entire page, our brains prefer shorter line lengths, usually between 45-75 characters. Short line lengths encourage us to read through an entire page, which can make your information pages seem less dense.
- Using appropriate headers. Headers help your website’s visitors navigate to the issues that matter the most to them. For single-issue voters, locating your stance on a specific issue is their number one goal, and clear headers will help them find what they are looking for in seconds.
- Balancing text and images. It can be difficult to entice someone to read a block of text. Images should serve to create interest in what the text next to them says without distracting from the content. Choose images that support or provide additional information about your stance on issues so they will encourage readers to learn more by reading.
Be sure to apply other key tenets of informational writing such as avoiding jargon or overly technical language. Some of your voters may be experts, but a lot of them rely on your website to tell them everything they need to know.
Incorporate white space
It might sound counterintuitive to include less information on your website, but white space is a necessity to prevent websites from appearing cluttered or overwhelming.
Political websites need to communicate a lot of information quickly, such as campaign updates, how to get involved, and the candidate’s platform. Remember, information is easier for site visitors to comprehend when there are white spaces separating sections of text. That’s why websites, books, and other reading materials have margins. The white space gives our brains a moment to pause and process what we just read before moving on.
Using color consistent with your brand’s color scheme can also help to break up sections or signal a change of content. However, white space is still the best tool available to a political website designer trying to break up complex, nuanced passages of text that your website’s visitors will need a minute to process.
Keep the navigation simple
While your political website’s design should be creative, its navigation is not the place to experiment. Your website should follow standard navigation practices, using a prominent menu bar at the top of your site with links to important pages.
For political campaign websites, your design should allow easy access to informational pages such as your about and issues page, as well as a bold donation or get involved link. Many political websites use a bright red donate button at the top of their page to draw attention to their fundraising form.
Also consider the order of information on your campaign website. Some design choices (such as placing the menu bar near the top of the page) should almost always be adhered to, while others can be adjusted based on your campaign’s priorities. For example, some campaigns place their contact or subscription form at the top of their home page while others choose to feature the form near the bottom or even on a separate page.
Create consistent branding
Brand is a necessity when it comes to informing voters about what your campaign stands for. While your campaign likely has several issues that you want to prioritize, a well-designed brand is most effective when it’s focused and simple. Choose one or two major images to emphasize in your design.
Images, colors, and symbols act as visual shorthand. Be deliberate about your visuals since they communicate just as much (and often even more) than words alone, especially on a medium like the web where people judge your design and develop opinions about your candidacy in seconds.
Some politicians use symbols of their state or community to align their brand with local culture, while others aim to seem larger than life by using stark, elevated imagery and limited color palettes. Your marketing team should help you form a solid brand identity to use with your political website design.
Identifying brand unity in design requires a careful eye. Use dedicated campaign web builders backed up by designers or consultants with experience translating political branding to the web.
Examples of Beautiful Campaign Website Designs
Jackie Goldberg for Los Angeles School Board
Jackie Goldberg’s campaign website opens in a burst of color that draws the eye straight to her in her bold hero image. The use of a limited color palette allows the design to feel bold without overwhelming, giving the entire page an inviting appearance.
Her news page is especially well done, laying out blog posts with a mix of graphics and well chosen photographs that provide variety without seeming inconsistent. This page also makes good use of white space, which can be especially difficult to accomplish on newspages due to the sheer amount of updates that political campaigns need to publish.
Mark Ridley-Thomas for Los Angeles City Council
Mark Ridley-Thomas’s homepage gets his message across even without scrolling an inch. With his support form overlaid atop his hero image, this campaign page is a good example of how to organize information to get the response you most need from supporters. Scrolling down, it’s nearly impossible to miss the prominent social media icons, providing yet another opportunity for supporters to connect with his campaign.
Ridley-Thomas’s issues page also uses helpful navigation tools so that visitors can jump to the issues they’re most interested in. Each section makes use of text hierarchy strategies so that the content is skimmable. Bullet points, short paragraphs, and white space help voters quickly find information on the issues they care about.
Political websites follow the same principles as most websites: they should have clear navigation, consistent branding, and eye-catching high-definition images. However, as you design your political website, also consider how you will handle core elements such as your issues page, your donation forms, and your candidate’s identity.
Political websites make strategic use of design essentials to help you quickly build a modern website and catch voters’ attention.
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