The impending 2012 US presidential election looms closer every week, and offers an excellent opportunity to take a good look at the home pages of the two primary candidates: Democrat incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
We created a visual Usabilla survey to benchmark the home pages of the two presidential candidates against each other. We focussed on the user experience and usability similarities and differences of the candidate websites. The feedback of our test participants led to interesting findings and helped us to understand how the home pages of the two leading candidates for the 2012 US Presidential Election differ from other websites.
Read on for the highlights of this interesting UX case study, or download the full report.
The test included seven questions per home page. Participants were between 20 and 54 years of age and had an average political interest of 2.7 on a scale ranging from 1 = very interested to 5 = not interested at all. At the time of testing, 27 of the participants stated that they were inclined to vote for Romney, 15 for Obama, and 8 were undecided.
A candidate’s stance is most important
The most important information people seek on each of the candidate’s websites is their political stance. Information about who they are and what they think about the different topics is essential for people to decide who will receive their vote. Neither President Obama or Romney offer a lot of information on their home pages. Site visitors need to actively enter each of the candidates’ sites in order to learn more about where the candidate stands on the issues.
Focus on the future, not on the past
Both candidates focus a lot on the past, rather than revealing their visions for the future. This works better for President Obama than it does for Romney as he has recent achievements from his first term to present. However, Romney focuses too much on running President Obama down, instead of presenting his own ideas. Both candidates avoid presenting any concrete plans of action to show where and how they are going to lead the country.
Social media plays a special role in this presidential election campaign just like it did in the last presidential election. Social media is a tool for the presidential candidates to reach people, not the other way around. People use social media to get information without actively seeking it. Therefore, social media does not need to take up a lot of space on the candidate’s websites.
Relevant content has to be above the fold
Once again, it became clear that people don’t like scrolling. Any relevant information about issues, donation, or other call-to-action buttons must be placed above the fold, so they are visible for the site visitor directly after loading the page. The footer does not draw any attention for either of the candidates and should therefore not contain relevant information.
Different aspects influence whether or not a candidate is perceived as trustworthy. President Obama does a good job building trust by showing that he cares about his people and by presenting his previous achievements. Romney on the other hand does not offer a lot of content to gain trust. The focus of his site on President Obama rather conveys a sense of insecurity, which is even reinforced by the lack of own ideas.