Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My ON PC Leadership website review

Thanks again to the folks at Grassroots Voice for the opportunity to take part in their candidate's website review. Here's what I sent them...

Christian Conservative's Ontario PC Leadership website review

With the leadership getting off to a roaring start, it's time to do a review of the online "presence" of the various candidates.

The best way to test out a candidate's online "presence" is to "Google" them, and see what comes up. As such, we've conducted a test using the same terms for each and every candidate, to ensure an unbiased examination of how well the campaigns are getting their candidates out there. The search terms used in each case were just their first name and last name.

First up, in alphabetical order, was Christine Elliott. The first and second links take you to her MPP site, while the third link listed takes you directly to her website.

Randy Hillier's search takes you directly to the front page of his website via the first link.

The first link for Tim Hudak's search takes you to his MPP page. It's not until the fifth link that you get anything on his leadership bid.

As for Frank Klees, well, his Google search went really bad. He doesn't appear to have an official leadership site, at all. Everything seems to point to to his MPP website... on which, I can't find anything at all about his leadership bid. He seems to have no campaign "presence" whatsoever online, other than his Facebook page set up by a fellow blogger.

Now on to the review of the leadership websites themselves...

Christine Elliott - Intro page for is a signup sheet. Very clean, easy on the eyes, well laid out. Good font selection, nice choice of colour scheme, good picture of Christine, immediate impact is one of professionalism and competency. Not just an option to sign up for updates, but also a volunteer checkbox, and most critical of all, a "Donate" button right there. Also a clear "Skip to the website" option, which is important to insure you're not annoying potential supporters.

First impression is "Obama". Seriously, it reminds me of the Obama/Biden campaign website. Everything you could want is right there. The "Join" button takes you to an online web store, where you can purchase a membership without getting off the couch... unless you left your wallet on the kitchen table. Just click on the icon to "Add to Cart", and then proceed to the checkout. Nicely done gang. On the same page, you can also enter a donation amount to "Add to Cart". Only thing I found an issue is that both the "Join" and the "Donate" buttons on the main page take you to the exact same place. Just a minor thing, but that always bugs me.

I found the site to be somewhat light on the policy side. Personally, I like for someone to have meat on their site when it comes to positions, issues, etc. Of course, this is a campaign website, and they again seem to have taken on the Obama strategy... looking good, but not saying too much. Could be just keeping their cards close at the start, intending to roll out policy as the weeks go on, so we'll keep an eye on that.

Overall, an excellent website. Load times were a bit laggy, and I've got a pretty snappy computer and internet connection. We're just talking seconds here, but it was noticable. May want to beef that up a bit. I really like the "Share" button embedded within all the pages... let's me fire something off to my contacts with just a click.

Randy Hillier - Punch up, and BAM! It's a full court press right of the bat. Sharp graphics, also somewhat Obama-esque, looks like a blue dawn rising behind Randy's name... which I think is the point. Photo of Randy with the Ontario flag flowing in the breeze. Great colour scheme, no question about where he stands... lots of blue on blue, which in itself communicates a lot. Hit the links at the top, and you're taken to sharp looking internal pages, I especially like the pic of Randy at the top on the "About" page. It very quickly communicates a lot about Randy, or at least his public persona... the un-politician who's from somewhere other than the GTA.

Up at the very top of every page, you can sign up for updates via e-mail. A nice touch. Down on the right, you've got all the social networking links you could ever need... a Share button, an RSS feed sign up, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. All under the banner of "Join the Randy Revolution", evoking the good old days of the Mike Harris "Common Sense Revolution". Playing on that same theme, he's got a "Common Sense" link, that pulls up some of his core issues, which is something that Randy has been strong on his entire political career. No one can say that they don't know where Randy stands on the issues, because he's pretty up front on where he stands on just about everything.

Like his slogan... "A Conservative Leader for a Conservative Party". It's in your face and to the point, and a pretty clear distancing of himself from the previous leader, John Tory.

When I started poking around a few weeks ago, I honestly thought that Christine had the best website. But it looks like Randy's team has gone flat out with their campaign launch, and to be perfectly honest, Randy has opened up a pretty significant advantage right now for who's got the best web presence.

Tim Hudak - Tim's site is clean, fairly simple design. Off the bat you're faced with an intro page with several options, a sign up for updates, an online donation link, and a membership purchase button. A couple of thoughts... the update sign up section doesn't tell you what it's for, it's just kinda there. The donation page takes you to a PayPal page, which to be honest, strikes me as a little campy and unprofessional. I'm guessing it's one of those decisions made to make donors feel more confident that their credit card numbers are secure.

Once you're into the site, everything you'd want is right there... but things look a little too busy and not well laid out for me. Of the links at the top, the "Why Tim" link gets bumped down to the next line, which is poor web programming in my opinion. But on the positive side, there's a whole lot of content, everything you could possibly want is right there. The main stories are all listed below. But one major issue I have with the site is something I've said before... guys, will you PLEASE ditch that goofy pic of Tim in the top right corner? Seriously, there's got to be another one you could use, we're looking for the next Premier here, not next president of the school chess team!

Way down at the bottom, there's the same options that the others have, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and also Flicker photos. He's also got links to his Flicker photos, which is cool, gives the impression of a dynamic campaign. Something unique, they've also got a search feature, a nice touch for those who are looking for more detailed info on specific items.

Having said all that, a little further down on the right is the best there's a link to, the official social networking site, or "Online Conservative Community" as they've entitled for the Hudak campaign. To be frank, I like the "Right Here" site better than the campaign site. You have to sign up to access anything on it, but it's certainly a good concept. It's a little more controllable than Facebook, and allows them to integrate Twitter posts, events calendar, etc. I'll be signing up myself shortly, I must say they've got my interest.

Frank Klees - As indicated before, Frank doesn't seem to have any kind of official presence other than his third party Facebook account. My impression is that he's just jumping in this to bring up issues he cares about, as opposed to actually seeking to contend for the leadership. Which is a shame, because in looking at his list of core issues the other week, he actually piqued my interest for further consideration. Now after this website review, however, I must say I'm disappointed, and won't likely be giving him much more consideration.


All in all, I'd have to say that Randy Hillier's team has put together the best site overall. There are a couple things I don't like about it, but it's pretty fantastic otherwise. Christine Elliott's team has put together a pretty sharp looking presence as well, and Team Hudak's online community concept via is unique and fresh. All in all, when this thing is over, I really hope that a campaign team is built from members of each leadership campaign team, because I think we could put forward the cutting edge kind of "presence" that we saw from the Obama team down in the US last November... a winning one.

With one exception, however... don't hire Tim Hudak's photographer!

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