After looking at the campaign websites for the dozen candidates for the Boston mayoralty, I was stunned by their mediocrity…and worse. In this cross-post from Marry in Massachusetts, I combined my subjective judgments with verifiable observations.
However much the current dozen candidates for Boston Mayor paid for their website designs, they spent too much.
- Candidates don’t put too much importance on web campaigning
- Campaigns are unsophisticated about content and visual elements
Disclaimer and background: I’m a long-term HTML guy. I’ve worked on personal and corporate websites. I’ve been a technical communicator for decades, including usability testing for sites and documents. I also host Left Ahead and have interviewed and know many of these candidates. They’ve had plenty of time to publish platforms, polish slogans, and decide what might sway voters.
Campaign slogans are iffy; come candidates seem to have none and others several. This is one thing they should put some effort into and make sure at least the yard signs are memorable and meaningful.
I went a bit crazy in number of columns. I apologize if you have to scroll.
|Candidate||Geek Score||Wonk Score||Visual||Tabs||Platform||Slogan||Media||Events||Usability|
|FelixArroyo||A — Clean layout with easy-to-find content||B — Videos are solid but planks are vague||B+ —Attractive and graphics do not get in the way||A — Up top and very clear||B —Easy to find, but crowded with 15 topics||Building a Better Boston and Forward With Felix||A — Video-centric with solid interviews||B+ — Tab opens clickable calendar||A — Fonts a little small but tabs are plain and easy to use|
|JohnBarros||B+ — Tight and clean design, pulldowns off top buttons work well||C — Spongy, non-specific planks||A — Open and well designed||A — Buttons on top work as tabs with pulldowns. Highlight then a single click.||C — Appears to cover everything but planks are vague and use pol-speak||Stand Up Now||B- — Almost entirely print media links. Takes motivated voter to read||A — state of the art calendar||A — Features work well and navigation is clear|
|CharlesClemons||C — Well designed minimalist site||C- — Not much content but what’s there is clear||B — Attractive and clean||C+ — Clear and function well||C- — Sparse but fairly deailed for what appears||Unity Builds Strong and First Name on the Ballot||D — Next to nothing, no meaningful pix or news||C- — easy to access but not interactive||B — Everything obvious and works quickly|
|DanConley||C+ — Site well planned, executed. Events fail and vids are boring||A — The A+ platform earns political content high mark||B+ — Nice use of pix, giving a very personal, personable view||B — Easy to use. The empty Events is awful||A+ — Best in the race, with clear goals and methods||Boston’s Best Days Are Ahead of Us||D — Largely his big talking head with ho-hum messages||D — No events listed. Tab should go until they beef it up.||A — Crisp, fast site|
|JohnConnolly||B- — What’s there is solid, but where’s the vid and intereaction?||A — He is plain on what he’s done, wants to do and how||B- — Clean site, everything is obvious||B — Minimalist but clear and work well||A — Ideas are very clear and specific, covers all big areas||Our Future Starts With Our Schools and Good Schools=Good Neighbors||D — Old school print and pix. Needs video||C- — Scrolling, takes multiple clicks to access, no interaction||C — What’s there is easy to access. Needs more content.|
|RobConsalvo||C — Well functioning||C- — Content hidden and vague||B+ — Good looking site, with use of pix to make it about him||C- — Voters don’t know what’s hidden behind tabs.||C- — Hidden at bottom of About tab, and non-specific||Making Boston Better||C- — Little and in Blog. He should have tons of video and print.||D — Gimmicky map instead of calendar. Canvass events OK if you know to go to Volunteer||C — Donating or volunteering OK. He should not make you search for h is platform or events.|
|CharlotteGolar Richie||C- — Site works but the lack of content detracts||D — Her vision tab is grey and mush mouthed||D — General goals do not inspire at all||C — Mouseover and pulldown tabs are clear and work well, but need larger type||D — There is little here and what appears is vague||Charlotte for Mayor||B- — Some good news clips, but nothing of her own and some clips don’t work||C- — Old-style scrolling, not interactive, hidden under News tab.||B — Fast and functional site. Only events are so-so.|
|MichaelRoss||C- — He is net savvy but form trumps function here||C- — great, but hidden political content||B —Clean and attractive, but you need to scroll for anything||None, Does not apply.||C- —Very detailed, but buried behnid Boston Smarter button||Boston Smarter||B — good linked videos||D — Need to visit his FB page for current activities||D — no tabs, buried content, voter must guess what’s behind smallish buttons|
|BillWalczak||B+ — Well designed and fast site. Everything works well.||B- — Content is there and better than most candidates but you have to figure out to go to news and blog.||B — Very personable, particularly for an activist. Contend and personal touches||B —Tabs are clear and well functioning. Someone put some real thought into these.||B- — Platform hidden in news and blog choices. Much there though.||Maybe Bill Walczak for Mayor of Boston||C — News is print only but it’s good, useful stuff. Vids are at the bottom of the front page, kind of hidden.||D — Events do not seem to appear on site.||B- — Major functions are obvious and work well. A few are obscure, like having to figure to go to news and blog for talking points.|
|MartyWalsh||C — Some pages load slowly but overall, the design and functions work well.||C- — The About Marty area has bio with implied general goals. Press/Latest News lets motivated voter tunnel down to statements.||B — Intense red and blue on white space. Crisp.||C– — Few choices and no platform per se.||C- —Minimal, no planks||Maybe Marty for Mayor||B — Lots of press and a little video. With time and interest, voters could find out a lot about his positions.||C- — Obscure in right column of each page under many buttons. Click for minimal details||B — What’s there works well and except for the obscure events is easy to find.|
|D- — Virtually empty with only donation working||D- — No real content||D- — One page with almost no content||None, Does not apply.||D- — Vague goals on single page||Maybe Candidate for Mayor of Boston||F. None. Does not apply.||F. None. Does not apply.||F. No functions ad even Donate does not work.|
||C- — What’s there functions but there’s little||D- — He runs for both Mayor and Councillor. Mayor site has only bio.||D — Facebook images and content with bio, volunteer and donate buttons||C- — Bio, volunteer and donate buttons||D- — Only bio has info, with no planks or promises||Maybe Charles Yancey for Mayor||F. None. Does not apply.||D- — Just a little in FB feed.||D- — Easy to confuse this with Councillor site. Very little functionality.|
The short of it is that no one is brilliant here. As much as we’d expect web technologies and design to continually advance, forget that. These folk either don’t care or don’t know their stuff.
It may very well be that those puerile forum thingummies rule in the preliminary. Every candidate gets two minutes to brag and then a minute or less to reduce complex topics to a bowl of grits. I disdain these and there’s hardly more than one or two memorable quotes from an evening.
We’ll see how savvy it is for the dozen to have half-baked campaign sites. Conventional and media wisdom is that you have to have a website, but that it makes little difference. Most voters don’t visit.
In this once-a-generation election, no candidate is outstanding. That is odd for a few. First, Mike Ross is a long-time internet geek. He should have the best site but doesn’t. He and Bill Walczak have the big, wide, deep visions for a new Boston; you’d expect great web tech to highlight that. Nah.
A few are predictably dull and even ho hum. Pirate radio king Charles Clemons, teacher David Wyatt and to a slightly lesser extent long-term City Councilor Charles Yancey are running vanity campaigns. None has much money nor has roused much interest. Yancey even is simultaneously re-running for Council. Their sites are bare, sparse and frankly ineffectual — no platform, no reason to vote for them, in Yancey’s case little evidence he wants the mayoralty, and for all, not even a real campaign slogan.
There’ll be more before the preliminary. I have calls out to other candidates. Meanwhile, I’ve done four interviews at Left Ahead. to hear their half-hour shows, click the candidates below: