I think we can all say that the internet has sufficiently changed the way we interact with the rest of the world. But just how pivotal is the web in shaping our lives? A recently published article from Wired magazine announced today that presidential candidate Barack Obama’s Democratic nomination for President was mainly due to his online campaign. The web is such a vital communication tool today that it is credited with shaping the future of our country.
In response to this, I questioned what we can learn from Senator Obama and his online strategy. Why is his site so successful in driving his campaign while other candidates lack this degree of web presence?
Initially, my research took me to www.barackobama.com. Some early observations…
When you type in barackobama.com, it immediately brings you to the donations landing page, prompting users to donate, but also leaving a clear link to skip donating and go to the homepage.
The design is very sophisticated, yet conveys a clear message to users.
On each page, Obama thanks his supporters. Saying thank you is the easiest way to connect with your users.
On the homepage, there are clear “donate now” and “get involved” links that have surely been key to the Senator’s online success.
Compared to Obama’s website, Senator Hillary Clinton’s site (www.hillaryclinton.com) is a bit less clean in design but does have large buttons for donations and comments. There is a remarkable amount of information presented on the homepage that may confuse the user, more than encourage them.
When compared to all the rest, Obama’s is the first Internet-based campaign to win mainstream success. His online donor base consists of about 1.5 million, one-third of which also belong to his social network site my.barackobama.com. His campaign also includes opt-in mobile marketing, video content, a blog, an e-commerce site for Obama merchandise, and accounts with 16 other social networks (compared to Hillary’s 6 social networks). And according to twitterholic.com, Obama’s site has pulled in 35,313 followers to date, making Obama’s account the third most popular twitter ever.
So what can we learn from Obama’s online success? I can safely say that a clean, professional, and polished design as well as highly organized information architecture goes a long way in connecting with users. It’s also vital to use your homepage as one site that brings together all your other communication vehicles. We’ll have to wait until the elections to see if a great website can make all the difference.