On September 26th, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon stepped on stage for the first ever Presidential debate to be broadcast on national TV.
By 1960, 88% of American households had TVs, with only a very small minority of Americans still relying on radio as their main channel of communication. That night it was estimated that some 74 million people tuned in to watch the now historic debate.
What happened after the two candidates took the stage is a familiar tale. Nixon, pale and underweight from a recent hospitalization, appeared sickly and sweaty, while Kennedy appeared calm and confident. As the story goes, those who listened to the debate on the radio thought Nixon had won… Those that watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy was the clear winner. Many say Kennedy won the election that night.
via Time, How the Nixon-Kennedy Debate Changed the World
As history is told, Kennedy won the election that night because of how young, healthy, and handsome he appeared on screen next to Nixon.
Nowadays candidates have so much more to worry about.
Not only do they have to worry about their image on screen (now up to 4k resolution), they also have to think about how they represent themselves on social media, how they connect with voters through campaign-based applications, and how their person is generally assimilated into technology.
And they’re expected to do all of this on top of figuring out how to keep citizen journalists like myself at bay so they don’t destroy the campaign’s hard work with the freedom of press that comes with the internet.
This year’s campaign will be the most connected in history.
Could UX be the new handsome?
What is the campaign experience?
The campaign experience used to be candidates speaking to the public in person, on the radio, and, since the Kennedy/Nixon debate, on TV. But in between appearances they had a chance to relax.
Today candidates have to be connected every second of the day. There is no time off.
Hillary has nearly 6 million likes on Facebook, 9 million followers on Twitter, and just over 2 million followers on Instagram. Donald has over 10 million on Facebook, 11 million on Twitter, and 2 million on Instagram.
If today’s candidates are not putting the media out there, you’d better believe someone will do it for them, whether they like it or not.
That’s a lot of risk to manage.
The Hillary Clinton Experience
Hillary’s campaign is pretty tech savvy this year. But while her campaign is very connected, the connections aren’t always meaningful.
Hillary’s site is beautiful. It has a very modern look and feel, the interactions are fairly minimalistic, and it’s built to be responsive. The only downfalls come in the form of forced interactions and interactions built to make the site feel trendy.
Hillary’s site has a ton of amazing things going on for it. For one, it’s organized in a way that doesn’t take much effort to understand. The text is chunky and easy to read. The visuals match the content it represents. There’s a filter for everything you could possibly need. And there are videos for almost everything on the site if you don’t feel like reading.
There are so many things I could list off that I enjoy about Hillary’s site, but here are a few thing I specifically love:
1. It’s built to tell a story
If you actually read through the content on Hillary’s site, her team has built the site to tell a story. The content strategy is incredible.
Most pages intro with a big, bold headline, a quick statement to summarize the page at a very high level, and an image to assist with understanding. The text is black on a white background, instead of on top of a photo, which makes reading incredibly accessible.
It then will give you a big, bold quote to summarize her position and (typically) a video to watch in case you don’t feel like reading.
After a strong intro you get into the meat of the page, which is put into listicle form to make it quick and easy to read.
I’m sure her critics will tell you she’s trying to hide the truth by making everything into short lists, but that’s not true.
What’s really happening is that her team is trying to give people the information they need in a digestible manner and then they supply the audience with links to dive deeper if their curiosity wants more.
If you follow these links into The Briefing you’ll dive into an incredibly comprehensive overview of Hillary’s plans and how she’ll get things done.
The reason this isn’t all up front is because most people just want enough information to be informed. The content within The Briefing is much more than most people would ever care to read and would more than likely cause them to leave the site because it’s so overwhelming.
It definitely takes some digging to discover, but that’s brilliant content strategy by Team Hillary.
2. It’s built with Mobile First best practices
This sounds like a duh, but you’d be shocked how many sites are still lacking mobile responsive best practices.
The main navigation is minimal and what is most important is out in the open, not hidden behind a hamburger menu. Everything else you could need, but that isn’t quite as important, is tucked away to reduce the cognitive load.
On top of that, the content is digestible, contextual navigation is located at the bottom to make it easier for people using their thumbs (notice the filters at the bottom at the end of the GIF), and load speeds are lightning fast.
This is incredibly important considering the audience Hillary is trying to reach — modern, tech-savvy young people that hope for a better future and are probably trying to learn about each candidate from their phones.
3. It’s built to empower voters
While most sites give you all the information you would ever need to learn, most of them don’t do it in a meaningful way.
Hillary wants to make education more affordable and reduce student debt. But how’s she going to do it?
Well, her team could write about her policies and hope you are good at math/legal practices, or her team could make a tool that does all that work for you so you can actually understand. And that’s exactly what they did.
Her team has built a calculator to give us a simple output regarding how Hillary’s policies will effect us. The simplicity makes her policies incredibly transparent and accessible, which is something most political campaigns lack.
Try the calculator for yourself using this link, below.