By this stage of the election, both candidates have had every aspect of their policies, running mates, and backgrounds explored, exploited and dragged through the mud. But what about their websites? With the Internet playing a bigger part in this election than any before it, Aztek thought it appropriate to see what was behind each candidate's website. Here are the pros and cons as we see it.

Screenshot of Barack Obama's Website


  • User Interface
    • Design is reflective of the "feeling" of Obama's campaign:
      • Blue on blue is very subtle
      • Less calls to action are less numerous, focusing on most import action for visitors.
      • Navigation language more conversational ("Meet Barack Obama")
      • Obama and Biden appear to be looking off into the "future" in the header.
    • Very graphically appealing and great use of typography and colors.
      • Overall sophisticated, caters to a more youthful, internet savvy audience
    • Feels very in-depth – a lot of information to choose from (potentially overwhelming, though)
    • Very open to citizen-involvement
      • Takes advantage of connection to social networks
      • Allows supporters to blog on the site and comment on news items
      • Lots of downloads for supporter involvement to show their support, including IM Buddy Icons, personal site/blog widgets and badges.
      • Call to Action areas are very engaging.
  • Back End
    • Excellent use of all available web technologies
      • JQuery, Open Source, Ajax
    • CSS/column based
    • Uses GeoTargeting to customize message and options to the viewer's location
    • Friendly validation in donation form


  • User Interface
    • Many graphic links on homepage have low contrast/visual feedback
    • Not very clear how to get back home from donation page
    • The first time you visit in a new browser, you see a donation page first with small link to main page - this is potentially confusing to a user.
  • Back End
    • Invalid XHTML
      • <style> tag inside document body (it doesn't belong here)
      • 217 errors and 64 warnings according to W3C Validation
    • Mixed use of header (h#) tags
    • Uses a lot of “include” files which makes it harder to manage from a developer standpoint. Additionally, there’s a ton of double dot domains, very expansive site
    • Navigation breaks if javascript is turned off
    • Navigation disappears if images are turned off
    • Navigation dropdowns appear under all Flash content (a very easy to fix bug).
    • Float drop in IE6
  • SEO and Accessibility
    • No in-site search function for a huge site
    • Very little image replacement, poor Alt attributes
    • No site map

Screenshot of John McCain's Website


  • User Interface
    • Design reflects aggressive side of the campaign. Lots of Calls to Action, McCain and Palin looking straight ahead in the header, Navigation language very straight forward ("About John McCain")
    • Looks and feels like a magazine or a portal
      • Effective to target demographic, but still seems very busy for those who might be less internet savvy
    • Most headers are text – no need for image replacement
    • Simpler graphic style, more stock photos & icons
    • Clear and effective site map
    • When images are turned off, navigation is still usable
  • Back End
    • Uses ASPX technology – dropdowns are Telerik Rad control


  • User Interface
    • In IE6, the "Home" link goes to splash page instead of the actual home page
    • Much more "in your face" graphically
      • Graphics also don't follow the same color scheme and look, so they compete visually, making the site look very busy.
    • Header graphic with McCain & Palin very harsh
    • Poor use of icons. They are generic and don’t tie well into the site.
    • Dropdown navigation is kind of awkward and unappealing
    • Videos auto start on the splash page and inside pages
  • Back End
    • Invalid HTML
      • Doctype is HTML 4.01, but <html> tag has an XHMTL namespace
      • 190 Errors and 50 Warnings according to W3C Validation
    • Table based layout (an outdated, inexcusable layout technique in modern web design).
    • CSS appears to be generated from WYSIWYG, repeat declarations make code very bloated
    • Numerous Javascript errors in IE6 and IE7
    • Donation form validation not very friendly
    • Navigation breaks if javascript turned off
    • Code segments in the site make it appear to be poorly constructed
    • Body tag uses "bgcolor" attribute set to black – if styles are turned off, navigation links hard to read (default blue against black)
  • SEO and Accessibility
    • No RSS Feed
    • Only about 25% of the images have alt tags. Those that do have alt tags aren’t very descriptive.
    • No "skip navigation" link for screen reader
    • Does not have custom error pages


Both sites have things they do well and both have lots of room for improvement. And to be fair to the design teams who work on these sites, we can only sympathize with their challenge. Designing, building and maintaining massive websites (that must change in a moment's notice) cannot be easy.

So which candidate website is better? In true political fashion, we're not going to answer the question, but we are going to encourage you to go out and vote on November 4th.