Obama vs. Bush = No Contest. The websites, silly, not the election.
This may come across as a political statement, but I assure you, it’s not. I am neither Democrat nor Republican. In fact, I try to stay away from politics as much as I possibly can. However, I find this to be quite an interesting dichotomy.Have a look at George W. Bush’s website:Now, Look at Barack Obama’s:Night and day isn’t it?I’ve always been impressed with Obama’s web presence. I mean, the Prez has a staff who’s got it goin’ on. The day I discovered he was on Twitter, I started following him and checking out his web presence. Now, I’m no idiot. Of course it’s not him doing all the Tweets and uploading to Flickr and updating his Facebook, but he has a presence where this generation connects. His sites utilize video. He has a blog. He’s even got an SMS strategy. In other words, he’s in touch with the online community. Which in this day in age, means, he’s in touch with America. Plus, it certainly doesn’t hurt that the sites are all very standards compliant. Ok, so the XHTML and CSS don’t exactly validate, but there weren’t a ton of errors either. And he’s using JQuery!Some might say, “hey, the Bush site also has Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.” but one quick look and it’s easy to see that it’s basically the RNC behind everything and there’s little-to-no connection to Dub-ya at all. Obama’s people understand how to tie the social experience together, and ultimately bring it back to “the brand” of Obama. Yes, Obama’s got a brand.Let’s get onto some design critique:The Bush website is just plain old. It looks like it’s made by old people, for old people. The design is dated. The content is unintersting. The photos are just plain bad. There are slammers(!) all over the place, which tells me, it was written by someone who doesn’t really know the craft. There’s a lot of other bad things I can point out about this site, but honestly, I think the comparison above pretty much tells the whole story.Obama’s site, on the otherhand, is beautifully designed. And I mean beautiful. Let’s have a look at some of the details. Typographically, it’s flawless. Here’s some very well-integrated ligatures as they show up in Safari…in text no less. View the same page in Firefox, and the ligatures don’t display, but hey, that’s the beauty of web standards. It’s still a flawless presentation of content.Now, this one thrills me to no end (yes, I’m a total geek). Take a look at the quote at the top. They’re actual quote marks. And actual apostrophes. Someone on Obama’s staff knows his/her typography :)Also on that same screen shot above, I’ve dropped down the “Action” menu. Subtle changes like the italics for for are awesome. They have these types of flourishes throughout the site.Think the designers can pay attention to elements such as often-overlooked forms? Yes, they can. Very high usability factor (shhhh…we won’t mention the fact that they used tables though).I hate to admit to being so superficial, but this site is so well-designed that it actually swayed a non-partisan voter like myself over to Obama during the early stages of the election. Alright, alright…it wasn’t just the design of his sites, but his social/cultural awareness certainly played a very significant role for me.And his campaign kept it all up post-election. There have been many blogs written about this lately, but here’s look at the Whitehouse.gov website before and after the Inauguration.Bush Era (not nearly as bad as GeorgeBush.com but definitely not as good as the current Obama administration):Obama Era:This just makes me proud to be an American. Our government doesn’t look like a bureaucratic mess. Obama’s the only President in my lifetime who I can remember having such an appeal to the art+design community, not to mention everyone else, and his web strategy further solidifies the fact that his administration is in tune with the people.In closing, I think a few props should go out to some of the guys that made it happen. I’m not certain who all gets credit for what, but if you look at the CSS code for BarackObama.com…
/* CSSAuthor: Scott ThomasCreated: 12-15-07Author: Walker HamiltonModified: 08-10-07*/…Scott Thomas and Walker Hamilton, you guys are doing a great job!
Ken @ January 21, 2009