Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched the first iteration of his campaign website recently and it is underwhelming.

I am certain that the Romney campaign has big plans for the site. But as someone who develops websites for a living I can tell you that the features you choose to include (and exclude) on launch say a lot about where you are headed. Based on the feature set, the strategy behind this site seems much more appropriate for 2004 than 2008.

Here are my main criticisms of the site:

  • The design of the site is sort of generic and soulless. Lots of American flags and such. I actually think the site looks nice and professional. It just doesn’t say anything about who Romney is or what he plans to do for the country.
  • The site doesn’t include a blog or any way to have a conversation online with the candidate/campaign. There are tools that encourage users to join the campaign, donate money and sign up friends for campaign updates. In other words, they have features that allow you to participate in the campaign in very focused ways, but not in the messy, Web 2.0 manner of the John Edwards campaign. No Facebook group. No MySpace profile. No link to their YouTube account. It’s as if the last few years never happened.
  • The video section is great from a design perspective but the content isn’t compelling to me. The name of the section, Mitt TV, says it all. You’ve got a bunch of slick, professionally produced content that looks like it was originally developed for television. It is most definitely not a video blog. It would be much more interesting if the campaign were to buy a video camera and record stuff behind the scenes that actually shows who the candidate is. Kung Fu Quip has a good post on the problem here.

Based on how they are using YouTube and podcasts for crisis response, it is clear that the Romney campaign has an understanding of how to use the web in this day and age. Unfortunately this understanding isn’t evident from the first version of their campaign website.

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.