John McCain Website Review

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Part 4 of my possibly tiresome campaign site review series finds us staring at the grim, unblinking visage of John McCain! The (mostly) black and white maverick of the campaign design world sure has its share of detractors. The monochromatic palette seems to evoke a love it or hate it vote. I happen to think it does not work, but that the site can look very solid with a few edits.

If the idea of the black and white design is a metaphor for strength of purpose or a stance on an issue (or issues), I understand that, but I think that any of those metaphors can be realized (as much as these design decisions can trigger an emotional response) with a much lighter and better-designed approach. My fix would be to add color to every obvious space within the interior real estate of the site. For example:

  • The logo remains black and white, as does the background of the site including the flag imagery.
  • The navigation can remain as is until mouse-over. Color could be introduced here in the nav field, not just the text, and the menu should open in that color as well.
  • The left navigation/latest news fields and icons would all be in full color and the three very heavy bottom video invitations (Involving You | Informing You | Connecting You) could simply be full color versions of the existing photography.
  • I would also make sure to put as much color as reasonable into the footer, and I would add the infamous DONATE button in its red glory.

My hope when I saw the first version of the site was that the black and white motif would give way to a full-bodied rendering once McCain announced and launched a full site. Dramatic entrance or something. Onward, minus any color remarks.

The structure of the homepage is fine with me and I appreciate the compact design here. The logo is strong and unique for a campaign logo and I assume the attached mark is the Silver Star, which McCain was awarded, and therefore cannot be questioned by a sissy like me. The flag background is pretty muted and therefore doesn’t offend. The universal navigation is easy to locate and use and the Undecided? navigation point is a fairly  unique keyhole. Reads better than About John McCain, I guess. One point about the photography that I’ll mention; McCain is a mechanical, unnerving subject to view in some of these shots, and his people should realize that we understand that he’s serious about this. More shots of him smiling and or looking presidential. Less of him appearing as if to ask me my intentions with his daughter.

In conclusion, I think the site is problematic in this rendition because of the black and white template choice, but feel that it could be very strong if edited discreetly.

About the Author
Tom McCormick
Tom McCormick is the head of the Brick Factory's design department, overseeing all of the company's creative work. In that role, Tom consults with clients to design websites that are beautiful and functional. He only writes blog posts that have something to do with football, probably because he is a Redskins fan and needs some kind of catharsis after they lose every week.