Build up to the Election – part 2 – The Labour Party

Part 2: The Labour Partywww.labour.org.uk

I originally reviewed the Labour site 3 weeks ago – since the election date was announced they have launched a new site, a complete overhaul of the previous. If you didn’t see the old site, you’ll have to take my word for it – it was poorly organised with a tired design, the main site hidden behind a spkash page of unsubstantiated supporter quotes. It would have been a very different review.

Now I’m presented with a website that (once you get past the splash page) resembles the layout of the Conservative website, which isn’t a bad thing.  A splash page is rarely a good idea and this is no exception – bizarrely, it resembles exactly how I’d imagine a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet crossed with a Communist poster would look.

This aside, the website is now ticking a lot of boxes.  The central banner gives a snapshot of their crowd-pleasing campaigns such as backing the ban on fox hunting. Key calls to action are prioritised in the top half of the page and grouped appropriately, emphasised with attractive icons. They give options to Volunteer, Donate, Join or sign up to the newsletter. This is supported lower in the page with options to become a fan on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Their manifesto is available to download and is backed by concise summaries of what they stand for, linking to policy pages. Surprisingly, they place this at the bottom of their homepage – perhaps to detract from the obvious similarities between them and the Conservative policy summaries.

The policy pages themselves are well structured and consistent, each giving a summary and breaking the content into small sections with bold sub-titles highlighting what they have achieved, what they plan to do and why the equivalent Tory policy is flawed. This makes them easy to read and understand. I’m a little confused by the section labelled ‘related policies’ under which they have at least four articles related to Liberal Democrat policies rather than their own – a re-labelling of this section or moving the articles out of the policy section would be sensible.

There are few images of people, especially leader shots on the homepage. Ed Miliband is featured, superimposed over a blue sky but no Gordon Brown. This is a contrast to the Cameron overload on the Tory website. The benefit is that it gives emphasis to policy over personality, but it also makes Brown feel more distant as a leader than Cameron.

The site supports their day-to-day campaign, giving up to date information on what’s happening. They have a blog within the site that is regularly updated by campaigners, giving an impression of action and providing a local focus to their activities. The ‘Meet the Candidates’ is a nice touch, giving a snapshot of different candidates and how to get in touch.

This leads me on to my final task to search for my local candidate. The postcode lookup box is easily found. Unfortunately the site places me in the wrong constituency. I see this as a significant flaw – how can my local Labour MP represent me if they don’t know they are meant to?!

Overall this is a good website, easy to navigate with neat page layouts and a clean, new design. As with the Tories, they use the site as a hub for their social networking activities but they give the website itself more of a role in supporting the campaign by keeping the main actions on-site. Despite this, I feel that it does need a wash through to clear up some of the labelling issues I’ve highlighted. And the site has failed to correctly inform me who my local Labour candidate will be – this could potentially lose them votes when it comes to Election Day.

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