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Which political party’s website wins the design vote?

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Once again, it’s time to vote for a new leader (or an old one, depending on your political persuasion).

Over the next few weeks we’re going to hear lots of blather and bluster from the party leaders and their ministers, all claiming that their vision of the future is the right one for Britain.

But I’m not interested in all that right now. I’ve got something more important on my mind. 

Setting sites on the election

I want to have a quick look at the design of our three main parties’ home pages to see which site – not party – would get my vote. In the interests of impartiality, I’ll deal with them in alphabetical order.

Most of the parties have put together special microsites for the General Election, but I’m going to concentrate on their main websites. These are the bedrocks of their web presence.

Here they are…

Websites of the UK's three main political parties.

The Conservative Party

David Cameron’s party’s website is very imposing; there are lots of big images, big titles and big buttons. The Tories mean business.

When the site loads, you are presented with topical video clips that are overlaid with big, bold campaign-slogan-like titles. Not surprisingly the site’s main colourway is the party’s official green and blue. Interestingly, the main logo on the site is their secondary white logo, positioned on a blue header bar.

The homepage has the now-compulsory Twitter, Facebook and other social networking feeds and links, although in Firefox I’m not getting a title tooltip when I hover over the icons I don’t immediately recognise.

Below the main banner area, you are presented with what the Conservatives stand for: "Backing the NHS", "Raising standards in schools", etc.

As banal as those statements are – who in their right mind would vote for a party that planned to lower standards in schools? – they are at least in a suitable place on the page.

The general structure of the page is solid and well laid out. To paraphrase Dudley Moore in the 1990 film Crazy People, "It’s boxy, but it’s good" (I think he was referring to Volvos).

Finally, is it just a coincidence that the Conservative site looks a bit like the Manchester City site? Go and see for yourselves.

The Conservative Party: www.conservatives.com

The Labour Party

The Labour Party’s homepage gets off to a good start but the layout becomes a bit wishy-washy further down the page, especially when compared to the Tory site.

Generally, elements on the page have alignment problems: some of the headings appear to be plonked just about anywhere; and the pictures, apart from being a bit small, don’t seem to line up with anything.

In the screenshot above, you’ll notice several shades of red. That’s not good – it demonstrates a general lack attention to detail that just shouldn’t be seen on such a high profile site.

I wish I had more time to continue my critique of the Labour site, but sadly I haven’t. We would of course relish the opportunity to offer them an expert review

I will briefly mention Labour’s special ‘A future fair for all’ election homepage. Unlike the regular homepage, it does immediately show you who and what Labour stands for. If you were wondering, it’s nurses, teachers, pensioners, students, parents and business.

So everyone, then, apart from murderers and bankers.

However, this page has a better structure than the normal Labour homepage. It also features lots of different colours, which I believe is meant to represent the diverse social groups that make up Britain.

The Labour Party: www.labour.org.uk

Liberal Democrats

It’s not very easy on the eye this one. Where Labour’s site seems to have a bit too much white space in places, this one is literally crammed full of stuff. Text, images and icons are scattered everywhere.

To be fair, the site does give you everything you need: what the Lib Dems stand for, information on how to get involved and who the personalities are.

It’s fine, just not very aesthetically pleasing.

Liberal Democrats website: www.libdems.org.uk

And the winner?

On the basis of their websites, my personal swing-o-meter is telling me that Conservative home page is the winner.

So there you go, folks. What do you think? Do you agree? And do any of the other parties have even better sites (there’s a full list of parties here)?

Let me know. Otherwise, visit the websites of our political parties and get out there and vote in May.

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