Presidential Campaign Website UX Reviews

Let’s do a quick lightning round and some observations at the end.

Joe Biden

Big picture of Joe and Give me money! Hmm, interesting. Scroll UP from the home page. It’s a bug. A BUG! Come on Joe! How can we trust you with the nation’s highest office if you can’t even get your website scrolling problem fixed? #HTMLforPresident

Joe has a plan for the climate crisis.. Unfortunately, the UX sucks. It’s just a giant page with no progressive disclosure or navigation at all. It reminds me of all those case studies that are poorly designed. Navigation people, come on!

Also, the video is boring. Here is an idea: Use explainer videos! Or get Adam from Adam Ruins Everything to make your video. Make it entertaining and educational! Why do political campaigns suck so much at advertising and entertainment? Do they know what business they are in? Hint: It’s NOT policy. It’s politics.

Elizabeth Warren

Big Picture of Liz and Give me money! Hmm, these look really similar don’t they? OK, now start scrolling down. Notice what happens? You are scrolling down and then all of the sudden you are scrolling across to the right. This is just terrible. Who designed this nonsense? I bet you thought it was cute, right? Oh look, all of the users are used to reading in one way, but let’s make them uncomfortable and make them read sideways. That will get us their vote! YAY.

Just no.

Here is an idea for the woman who says “We have a plan for that!” Label your plans as Plan 1, Plan 2, Plan 3, etc. That way when you are on TV, you can say, “We have a plan for that. It’s Plan 4. Go to my website and in a giant box on the homescreen type in 4 and it will show you an entertaining educational explanation (alliterative) video to show how it all works.

Website designers, you have to think about how the candidate pushes people to the website via news outlets or debates. They need shorthand to say and get people where they need to be.

Pete Buttigieg

Big picture of Pete and Give me your email address! Huh, no asking for money? What kind of political website is this? Scroll down…ok, there is the money. I know, I am whining about asking for money so quickly, but I also know that you do have to ask for money as a “call to action” on virtually every page. A static footer or side panel is a good idea.

Pete’s site is pretty boring. There are a few effects when you scroll, but it’s basically the same as the others. he uses a serif font. I am not a fan. I like Pete as a candidate, but the serif has to go.

On the issues page there is a really weird interaction. Use the navigation on the left. Sometimes, the top bar is there and sometimes it disappears. It makes the UI move around in a way that is disorienting. I think the header should stay all of the time. Also, if you scroll up and down the text jumps all over the place. This is just broken. Come on, Pete. A website isn’t just a “nice-to-have”. It’s a critical part of your fund raising infrastructure. Quality is important. This thing has your name on it. Take it seriously.

Last thing: There are tons of little quick hits of what we should be doing as a nation on that issues page. However, it makes the whole page really difficult to read. Think about how journalists want to view your policy positions differently than how average people want to view them. More explainer videos and fewer essays.

Kamala Harris

Big picture of Kamala and asking for both money AND contact info. I am seeing a pattern here. The pattern is that there are no innovative presidential websites. Note to candidates: If you want to stand out, you have to do something different.

She doesn’t call them issues, but rather you click on “Our America”. I think this is a bad idea. I almost assumed she didn’t have any issues on the site. The organization is forcing me to pogo stick.

Pogo sticking is when the UI has a list view and a detail view and to browse the details you need to go up to the list and down to the detail and up to the list and down to the detail over and over. Kamala’s website is organized this way. A better way would be to have navigation on the left and let the user click between issues easily.

Other than that, this is basically the same as the others. Same critique and suggestions for explainer videos and labels for spoken word linking.

Bernie Sanders

A background video of Bernie and a request for information with a smaller request for money. Scrolling down -oof. Nothing. Wow, that was unexpected. I figured there would be something there.

By the way, I am not going in any particular order. I suppose I should have gone in the order of their popularity, but I didn’t. Sorry.

Glen

Anyway, clicking over to issues. It’s the same problem as Kamala. Pogo-central. I click one and have no way to go to the next without bouncing back up to the list. There isn’t even a direct link back to the list. You have to click the back button. Bernie, Bernie, Bernie…this is poor user experience. This is UX 101. It’s not worthy.

Beto O’Rourke

This is weird. I am not sure I understand what is going on. There is this flush-to-the-edges “banner” at the top. I am putting banner in quotes because I am not sure what it is. It is pushing down the global nav into the middle. So the big picture of Beto and the call-to-action (gimme money) is pushed mostly off the screen.

Why are they doing this? It looks really strange and doesn’t seem to have a purpose. I think it’s mostly a mistake, but it’s hard to tell why it is happening.

Ooops, I found a bad UX but Beto.

Bad UX in Action

See this menu? I hover over it and the word Issues is underlined. This is the universal HTMl indicator that it is clickable. Even my mouse turned into a clicky-hand thing. Unfortunately, it is not clickable. Boooo. Bad UX. It’s even worse when I click on Vision. This page is long and annoying. And the local navigation is confusing.

terrible UX

See, I clicked on education and the local navigation HALF collapsed. Depending on how wide my browser is, the navigation keeps looking wrong – but in different ways. Overall, this page is just broken from a UX perspective. Sorry Beto, you lost my vote.

Cory Booker

To be honest, I am getting fatigued. All of these websites suck. Bookers is the same trash as everyone else. I can’t even find an issues part of the site. He bounced me off to a medium article for some reason. The text alignment is really distracting. Im done here.

Andrew Yang

Ok, last one. I can’t take this horribleness anymore. Im including Andrew Yang because my kid likes him. Sorry Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and the other 40 candidates out there. Make a better website and I’ll pay attention.

Anyway, Andrew’s website is the same as all the others. Hmm, I found a bit of personality here:

It’s cute AND a call-to-action

That’s clever. Trying to find issues. It’s there, but it’s really hard to find it. And when you scroll, it jumps off the page. Persistent navigation, is that too much to ask?

Holy Shit, look at Yang’s policy page. This is by FAR the most amount of policy described by any candidate I looked at. It doesn’t make it good, but it certainly is thorough. Same pogo-stick problem. Persistent Navigation…someone tell the people who are in charge.

I noticed that Yang has a blog. As a fellow blogger, I respect that. Fine, here is my June, 2019 vote. If you are lucky, you can have it when the California primary rolls around.

Summary

It’s not that hard to stand out and make an emotional connection. Unfortunately, it seems everyone is “playing is safe” and blending into the crowd. This is a message especially for the bottom half of the candidates: STAND OUT. Make the site interactive, interesting, different. And for God’s sake, please fix the bugs.

Love,
Glen

PS. Was this a letter? Why did I sign it? What the hell?

UPDATE: I just realized I was using Canary, a newer/alpha version of Chrome. Therefore some of the bad UX experiences may be better in Chrome. Thanks Matt.