Each election, I am both amazed and appalled by some of the choices of branding political candidates choose to forgo on their campaign signs and websites. While few are excellent, many are notoriously bad. The Harris County Republican slate is no exception.
Today, I look at some of the best (and worst) the Harris County GOP has to offer, and a few comments from me to you. By and large, the Republicans could use a book on CSS for Christmas.
Typically, the best Republican websites come from the Congressional incumbents. They have more money, staff and relevant content on the issues to fill a site. U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-7) has the most organized site, featuring top-of-the-page navigation, plenty of social media links and buttons calling voters to interact with the campaign, and an overall clean feel.
Of all the Republicans in all of Texas, Sen. Dan Patrick (R-7)‘s website is built to inform and engage. A Twitter link up top provides easy access, which a left-hand navigation is straight forward with sections for issues and videos. The gigantic Texas flag behind him and the red, white and blue nature of this website screams “I AM RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN 2016.”. Scary thought, isn’t it?
Texas Rep. Patricia Harless (R-126) sets the bar for what every House member’s website should aspire to be. Not only is it clean and classy, in a Texas cowboy kind of way, but it offers her constituents and supporters ways to get in contact with her via email and social networks. Furthermore, bonus points for the very cool tagline: “I believe that limited government means limited spending.”
I hope she will run for higher office at some point, and take this website with her. 🙂
I start the bad section with the Harris County GOP’s party website only because it could be better. Republicans, by definition, are not very good with the Internet to begin with, so I will try to be brief. But, this site is crammed, very modular in its appearance while also looking very disheveled. My eye doesn’t quite know what to look at, and therefore, I am apt to struggle to focus on one thing; for example, the video embedded (congrats on learning how to embed videos, guys!) at left is so “heavy” in weight, even if I want to look at the buttons at right (which are the second “heaviest” item), I have a hard time focusing.
Another point I want to make, thus proving the assertion about the GOP and its slow progress online: While viewing the website’s page source, the webmaster (or creator) illustrated how behind they were by not only taking the time to write out metatag keywords (which, for all intensive purposes, lost importance years ago when it came to SEO and search engines), but alternating between capitalizing keywords, as if they were case sensitive.
Remember when I said the Congressional incumbents had the best sites? On the flip side of that, Congressional also-rans (in this case, Republicans challenging standing Democratic incumbents, who no matter how bad they suck, always win) have among the worst. Steve Mueller, God bless him for trying, has nice talking points framed by a website my 10-year-old brother could make if he was learning HTML.
Okay, I lied. Not all Republican incumbents have the nicest sites. Rep. Pete Olson shows just how boring, white bread he can get by filling one of the Republican’s nicest websites with big blocks of text from top to bottom. Olsen is highly prolific, and unless you have the time to read Olson blah blah blah about blah blah blah, you will be turned off by this website. Olson does get points for breaking out of the red, white and blue motifs, however.
Back when I was with the 1960 Sun Newspapers, I met and spoke with Rep. Gary Elkins on a number of occasions. His policies, especially in terms of small business, are incredibly sound. But, his website looks like something I tinkered with when I was in my freshman year of high school! It is a very simple HTML site. I wish he’d do something about this eyesore.
In the Harris County judicial races, one judge stands out for a weird navigation feature on their website. Harris County Judge Vanessa Valasquez, of the 183rd Criminal District Court, relies on this crazy Flash menu which changes at a rate of every 4 seconds. The image isn’t even shaped like the flap, with a corner virtually cut off. It looks pretty tacky, and for an older voter, probably isn’t clear it is a link.
Orlando Sanchez is to the Harris County Republicans as Chris Bell is to the Harris County Democrats: He is always running for something. And when he throws his hat in the ring, Orlando counts on the above early ’90s HTML website to carry him through, time and time again. In fact, if you look closely, the “for Harris County Treasurer” part appears to be pixelated, likely because they changed it in Microsoft Paint every time he filed for a new campaign. The left-hand navigation is very simple, and let’s face it, the site is boring.
While Harris County Clerk candidate Stan Stanart is busy vying for Beverly Kaufman’s seat, he is also busy as the Harris County GOP’s IT guy. And yet, despite being the Computer Whiz-in-Chief, this train wreck of a website is supposed to persuade us to “Stand with Stan.” The alternating red and blue text is bothersome, the artwork is fuzzy, and the faded American flag looks like some Windows Outlook background. Navigation is simple enough, but the end result leaves much to be desired, Stan.
Oh, and when the September 27th Fundraiser was over, you should have removed the flashing yellow banner. I got my hopes up thinking I was going to get to spend a night with you, Chris Daniel and Paul Bettencourt!