I’ll be speaking on a panel at the Politics Online conference next Tuesday (register here) on the topic of “Does Good Design Matter” in the context and political/advocacy websites. The panel was put together by Colin Delaney of e-politics and will also feature Margaux O’Malley (Grand Junction Design) and Susan Finkelpearl (Free Range Studios).

In thinking about this topic, one example from our work on the Fred Thompson campaign where good design didn’t matter immediately jumped to mind.

Throughout the Fall, the campaign had been kicking around the idea of setting a short term online fundraising goal and building a ticker that counted down donations in real time. We put together a very quick, rudimentary sketch of what the Flash ticker might look like to demonstrate functionality, with the understanding that we would do a professional version once approval for the piece came down.

Sometime over the Christmas holiday we got word that the campaign wanted to do the ticker as part of a one day fundraising effort and that it needed to be done as soon as possible. Due to the time frame, we didn’t have time to build out the nice version of the Flash animation and ended up implementing our basic sketch, assuming it would only be up for 24 hours and then go away. Here is what it looked like.


The truck moved a bit, but that was basically the graphic.  Not our proudest moment.

The red truck promotion ended up being a big success and the graphic became a permanent part of the site. Every time we thought the truck would go away we ended up putting it back up. The whole situation was kind of embarrassing for our designers – the most rudimentary Flash piece we’ve ever done was being seen by more people than our best Flash work.  After a week or so, we got sick of looking at the basic version and ended up posting a slightly more polished red truck.


Both versions of the truck worked equally well, as the Fredheads surpassed every online fundraising goal the Thompson campaign set. The simple truck did just as well as the fancier one. And while the simple version was homely, it was very usable and got the idea across well. The power was in the idea and the timing (which is always vital with these things), not in how professionally it was implemented. This was definitely a case that proves the old George Patton quote: “A good plan violently executed right now is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

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.