It is the morning after the election - a historic moment in American history regardless of party or vote. Now come the pundits, the analysis and hindsight brilliance. But, one thing has been evident all along - the web and social media made a difference in this election. And, one candidate used them much more adeptly than the other, the one that won.
President-elect Barack Obama hired one of the co-founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, to run his online strategy - not a bad move. I came across a great article comparing the two websites www.barackobama.com and www.johnmccain.com on BNET (here). Marc Mendell points out some striking differences in the article, and it is a great read just for practical design and usabiity best-of-breed parameters and how-tos.
Senator McCain gave a moving and wonderful speech last night conceding the race to Barack Obama. I woke up this morning at 5:30CST to start checking the polls and coverage (I am an election geek with an MA in Government concentrating on political behavior and survey research, so I love this stuff). What did I find at each candidate's website?
McCain's was unchanged and running through autoplay for several of his end-of-campaign ads attacking Obama - wait I have just heard from others that they saw the updated image below, apparently my browser cache was viewing an older version - NOTE - then it would make sense for any site with time sensitive matter to put in measures to keep this from happening through redirects, replacing index pages and so forth. Now, back to what was there today. There were buttons to vote, make phone calls and all sorts of stuff out of date. See it here:
Then I went to Obama's webiste and saw this:
The difference? Besides the usability dynamics pointed out in the BNET article - Obama was up to date with a "Thank You" page, a donate to the DNC as a payback to them for their help and a simple message and the most recent blog posts. The McCain site did not reinforce the great message that Senator McCain had laid out the night before and had many a CTA (call to action) that were irrelevant.
The lesson? Besides that usability matters and most likely played a major role now in the history of America - have a plan B. Both campaigns should of have had "Thank You" and concession pages built weeks ago, beta tested and deployed with hidden vanity links ready to go. Sometimes simply being prepared is the best usability tool out there.
Usability, the internet and design matter. They matter for the highest office in the land and they matter for your customers that want to purchase a t-shirt or a server.