Saturday, February 25, 2006

Lib Dems- internet improvement?

At the beginning of the Lib Dem leadership contest, I wrote a review (well, more of a rant) about the websites of the respective campaigns. I still get a few people reading it, (mostly coming from the Campbell Campaign blog) so I thought I'd do a follow up, as there has been a remarkable improvement in many ways.

At the time, I ranked them as follows:
  1. Ming- nice, elegent, functional, not trying to reinvent the wheel
  2. Huhne- it's there, it works, it doesn't piss me off
  3. Oaten- it's not even there yet, but his personal page isn't ugly
  4. Hughes- It's flash driven, I can't link to individual pages, I can copy and paste text but I then can't source it, it annoys me, it's not standards complaint, it won't work in a text browser or on my phone browser (I just checked, Opera Mini, it reads this site and Europhobia fine, has a bit of problem with DK's graphics and loves the Guardian news site), it's just wrong.
So, obviously, Oaten's site was never there.

Ming Campbell

Improved layout and appearance from then, most of it good. Good information out there, and nice use of different sections. On a purely personal level, an article written by Paddy Ashdown was always going to appeal to me, best PM we've never had and all that.

It has flaws; my flashblock tells me the title bar had a flash element (it's designed well enough to have a default alternative for those without flash installed), which, while pretty, adds very little in impact, especially as to read the site you need to scroll down so it disappears. The picture of Ming looks a bit grainy and, to me, is weirdly posed. But overall, an improvement on what was before, kudos to the webteam there.

Chris Huhne

I said it was ugly and looked dated. No longer the case, now redesigned and has a much more graphical web feel. Nice use of "podcasting", a newsfeed, Blog aggregator of supporters, etc. Utility issues, the top logo doesn't link to the homepage when you're on a sub page, and the navigation menu is to the far right, which goes against user expectations, but a masive improvement on what was before, and a good use of technology. Oh, he's changed the acronym so he's not telling a LIE as well.

Simon Hughes

I said: Awful. My new rating: Poor. The content is substantially improved, the look is better, there's no ugly flash to get passed. There's a campaign blog, which currently has this picture of him near the top, um, not the best publicity shot ever, who's he going to hit? So, overall, it should be OK? No, sorry. One, very simple, and so easy to fix technical problem.

No page titles, no site title

In this post, I outlines simple techniques that can improve your sites usability and search engine presence. If I run a site search, the page title tells me what I've found. But if you don't have any page titles?

So, a significant improvement to Simon's site. But that's going from being rated worse than non-existent to merely being poor.

The winner is

I think, overall, that Ming scrapes a win over Huhne on the site front. Just. Both good, Huhne has a bespoke site that works, Ming has a customised Wordpress site that look good. Simon's site is adequate, but isn't actually helping his web presence. If you want a website, it's to get web presence. If you don't help search engines and users of search engines, you may as well not bother.

Still, if the polls are right, it's neck and neck between Huhne and Campbell. I've already said that I'd prefer Huhne to win, so Simon having a poor site doesn't, really, bother me.

However, it is my understanding that as President it's his remit to cover the party website? If so, someone kick him, the Conservative website has been significantly revamped recently, very well done to whoever did that, the Lib Dems need to play catch up there. When the hurly burly's done, Simon goes back to being President, which, from those activists I've heard from, he's considered to be doing a good job. But he needs someone who gets how to use the web properly.

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