The 2012 Presidential election is being fiercely contested by Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Barack Obama. Both candidates are using the Internet to help their campaigns woo voters, volunteers and campaign contributions. But who has the better Website?
Romney vs Obama Website Challenge
The Web Marketing Association has been judging Websites through their annual WebAward Competition for Website development since 1997. More than 27,000 site evaluations have been tabulated during that period and they took up the task of evaluating both candidates Websites.
During the second week of October 2012, 61 Internet Website experts, who serve as WebAward competition judges, reviewed both www.mittromney.com and www.barackobama.com using the same criteria used in the annual WebAwards program. The sites were judged side by side based on the seven criteria of a successful Website.
Here are the results:
Design – Asked “which Website has the most pleasing design?” 60.7% of the WebAward judges selected the Obama site over the 39.3% for Romney Website.
Innovation – Website innovation also went in favor of Barack Obama. By the same margin as design, the vast majority of WebAward judges (68.3%) thought the Obama Website seems more innovative, while only 31.7% favored Romney’s.
Content – In terms of having the most appealing content, judges again selected the Obama Website over Mitt Romney’s Website, although by a narrower margin than the first two criteria. 54.1% of the WebAward judges felt barackobama.com has more appealing content for visitors compared to 45.9% for mittromney.com. WebAward judges also found that the Obama Website is more effective for telling the candidate’s story and attracting contributions and voters to its cause (55.9% Obama vs 44.1% Romney).
Ease of use – President Obama’s Website was seen as easier to use by the WebAward judges than Govoner Romney’s. 63.3% selected barackobama.com as easier to use compared to 36.7% of WebAward judges who felt mittromney.com was easier.
Copywriting – It is obvious that both campaigns have excellent writers on staff. Neither Websites have any of the editing issues some large organizations can experience. However, the WebAward judges gave the advantage to the Obama site (62.7% over the Romney site 37.3%).
Interactivity – Interactivity makes a Website more than just an online billboard and both candidates were effective in giving visitors to their Websites plenty to see and do. Nevertheless, once again the WebAward judges gave the edge regarding interactivity to the Obama Website (70.7%) over the Romney Website (29.3%).
Technology – Use of technology is evident in both candidates’ Websites, however, the clear favorite for the WebAward judges was barackobama.com winning 70.7% of the votes compared to mittromney.com with only 29.3% of the votes.
“Regardless of who you will be voting for in the next presidential election, Websites are going to play an ever increasingly important role in how candidates get their messages across to the American voters,” said William Rice, President of the Web Marketing Association “Based on the findings of this survey by some of the top Internet professionals available today, the Web Marketing Association names barackobama.com the winner of the Romney vs Obama Website Challenge. We wish both candidates the best of luck in their efforts to become the next President of the United States in the November election”.
Impact of Voting Preference
When the WebAward judges were asked “If the election was to be held today. Which candidate would you be more likely to vote for?” 43.3% responded Barack Obama, 18.3% responded Mitt Romney, 5% voted neither and 16.7% reported that they are a non-US judge and can not vote for anyone in a US election.
When judges who plan to vote for either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama are removed from the tabulation, results still remain in favor of barackobama.com, although the margins narrow. The one difference is that for non-decided judges, Romney’s website is seen as being more effective in terms of content (63.4%) than Obama’s (36.6).
Specific comments from the judges can be seen on the Web Marketing Association Blog.
An email was sent to all past WebAward judges requesting that they participate in an online survey between October 10 and October 15, 2012. 61 WebAward judges agreed to participate in the project. They reviewed each site and completed the brief online survey.
Judges for the annual WebAward competition consist of a select group of Internet professionals who have direct experience designing and managing Web sites, including members of the media, interactive creative directors, site designers, content providers and webmasters. These WebAward judges have an in-depth understanding of the current state-of-the-art in Web site development and technology and they apply that knowledge to the entries they review. Past judges have included top executives from leading organizations such as Arc Worldwide, BGT Partners, Brunner Digital, Campbell-Ewald, CNN News Group, Deep Interactive Asia, Digitas, EuroRSCG 4D, Google, IBM Interactive, imc2, JWT, LeapFrog Interactive, Mass Transmit, McCann Worldgroup, Razorfish, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Tectis GmbH, TMP Worldwide, Universal McCann Interactive and Wunderman / Y&R.
About the WebAwards
The 16th annual international WebAwards competition for website development sets the standard of excellence in 96 industry categories by evaluating Web sites and defining benchmarks based on the seven essential criteria of successful Web site development. The goal of the Web Marketing Association, sponsor of the WebAwards, is to provide a forum to recognize the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective Web sites on the Internet today. Entrants benefit from a Web site assessment by a professional judging panel and the marketing opportunities presented to an award-winning Web site. The Web Marketing Association also hosts the Internet Advertising Competition Awards.
One of the benefits of participating in the WebAward competition is feedback from our judges. Below are public comments made regarding the Romney vs Obama Website Challenge where 61 WebAward judges reviewed the websites of the two presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
Here are the comments. Attribution is given when judge provided name.
While I overwhelmingly favor President Obama’s web site based on the above criteria, the most glaring departure for me is the negativity represented on the President’s web site vs. Candidate Romney’s, which is a potential turn off for undecided voters. BO.com offers a much more pleasing and modern design; however, MR.com has some content elements, such as the one-pager, that make getting to the issues more effective.
Creatively, I think both sites are very similar. To me, Governor Romney’s site seems to be structured more like a professional (business) site with most of the content falling under specific menu items. President Obama’s site seems to be laid out more like a personal site (blog) as there are may “post” type additions (comments/videos/etc.) directly on his main page. Personally, I find Governor Romney’s site easier to navigate and-for me–more appealing. President Obama’s site has a lot going on where one can spend several minutes scrolling through the main page. I’m sure President Obama’s site is considered much more favorable by his supporters and those with adequate time on their hands to scroll down through post after post. I suspect many of the surveys you get back will be positive/negative right along party lines.
Brian K. St.Ours
President – eWareness
Founder – VeteranOwnedBusiness.com
Obama’s website is with better use of communication type of user interface and marketing, making it more friendly and attractive; Romney’s website is so conservatively designed…
BarackObama.com’s design has embraced the generation now. The site is a direct reflection of the way people are consuming digital and social media news. MittRomney.com’s one seems to be stuck in time with a retro look I can’t help but feel is out of place and old fashioned. Are both a direct reflection of their voters? America, where are you heading?
Executive Creative Director
I am not a fan of Obama. But I must say that his marketing and design team has done a great job on the web.
Both of these sites are politically very effective and cutting edge. I do not like the aspect of scrolling down a page as in Obama site. Users will not do this. Romney site cleaner and easier to identify content locations.
Alan J. Potasnik
The Point Betsie Internetwork
This websites comparison shows Obama is a greater endorser of technology -which is one of the things that makes this country be where we are worldwide. Having a website that looks dated almost shows you don’t care so much about the present or the future in terms of technology and where we are standing, as well as a lack of detail and dedication in what you do.
Both are hard to use but Barack Obama’s puts too many roadblocks in my way. I reluctantly voted for Romney’s as the better site.
Overall I like the Barack Obama website better because it is better layed out and not as busy as the Mitt Romney web site. I do like the web site navigation on the Mitt Romney web site more than the Barrack Obama web site.
Both sites offered more information links. Obama’s featured information on voter registration and polling locations, issues and offered a side column about comparing the candidates. Romney’s featured information about him, and reasons why you shouldn’t pick Obama. This leaves visitors with a feeling that Obama cares more about the issues and your right to vote than Romney.
The difference in the two sites was easily noticeable. Romney’s site was positive and upbeat and talked about his plans for the future. Obama’s site spent at least half of the available real estate simply attacking Romney on minute details rather than giving voters an overview of HIS plan and a positive message for the future of our country.
The Obama site navigation disappears on most all sub-pages. Romney’s always stays anchored at top, much more conventional usability.
When I looked at the sites side by side they were remarkably similar in design. Use of the same updated tones of red, white and blue , a photographic style with transparent type boxes on top, font size and use of the same rollover map of the USA to find out where you can participate locally. The use of technology had grown immensely since the last campaign and both websites avail themselves of interactive features. Obama’s landing page asks up front for a donation and he has a large request to share on Facebook. The most surprising feature to me is Romney’s shop where he sells everything from buttons to “Nobama” bumper stickers. For a limited time only, and I’m wondering if this is until the election, shipping is free. At the shopping cart, one can add in a donation as well.
Meg Levine Design
The Mitt Romney site had a poor experience on the initial landing page. The user might be confused on how to click into the main site. The Barack Obama site did a better job of this by using the wording “continue to main site.”
I am surprised at the lackluster state of the President’s website. His team should take a good look at the Romney site and figure it out.