With the Republican Party presidential primaries of 2012 fully underway, we decided to test the home pages of the Republican Party candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. We focussed on the travel sector, banks and online retailers in previous cases, and we were excited to look into politics. The pages need to have a different appeal, which leads to different design decisions. Most of the time, it needs to communicate a sense of urgency and action to get more people to help with the campaign. We believe the feedback of our users led to interesting findings and helped us understand how the home pages of politicians differ from other websites. Download the full report on the UX of Republican Party candidates’ home pages
A total of 50 participants performed simple tasks and gave feedback on the home pages of three republican candidates. The participants in our visual surveys reveal positive and negative aspects of the Republicans’ home pages that are easily overlooked when you only focus on the numbers. Read all our findings in the full PDF report, or check out the highlights below first.
Uniformity: The pages of the participants all look very much alike. They use the same blue and red color scheme, and all have the same menu categories. A red ‘donate’ button is placed on the same spot on all pages. The all have the same footer and only differ in small areas. This makes the pages easier to use, but they also stand out less.
Clear and emotional: The sites all look the same, but are very easy to use. The categories used in the navigation are picked well, and everything is easy to find. At the same time, the pages feature a lot of elements that have emotional appeal. When we asked our participants what they liked about the pages, both these observations came up often.
Asking too much: All sites have a donate button and a link to a shop. Although the donate button is to be expected, the links to the shops are frowned upon by our participants. Making money through selling clothes and other merchandise is seen as ‘greedy’ and ‘stupid’. Romney is known for being wealthy and having a big campaign budget, and participants are more critical of his page.
Being out of touch: The page of Romney features a picture of an expensive looking house. Participants find this telling for the way Romney is out of touch with ‘real’ Americans, many of whom have lost their homes or who are struggling to make ends meet. One participant said: “This is not the life I lead”.
The importance of wording: Rick Santorum used a button with the text ‘Why Rick?’ to link to a page which contains biographical information. This was confusing for our participants, who suspected that the button would bring them to a page which would only contain current standpoints. The small difference in wording – Romney and Gingrich use ‘Bio’ and ‘Meet Mitt’ as button texts – has a big impact in how users perceive the navigation.
If you have anything to ask or share about this report, please do so in the comments, or send us a Tweet so we can chat about it.