Web Watch: Relaunching a Grand Old Web Site
Since the 2008 elections, the Republican Party has been revisiting its image with an eye toward appealing to young people and independents. As part of that process, it recently relaunched ?GOP.com, with a new design, updated content, a social-networking component and social-media integration. Fire up your Web browser and check it out — I'll wait.
It's pretty, right? The new site has a bold, clean design, and it's a big improvement from the previous GOP.com, which looked as dated and out-of-touch as the Grand Old Party itself is lately accused of being. It also features a lot of great interactive components — integration with Facebook Connect; the ability to set up a profile, share photos and videos, and connect with other GOPers; opportunities to share thoughts and comments; and frequently updated blogs written by party leadership — that should attract site visitors and keep them coming back regularly.
The already-legendary Obama campaign has set a high bar for Internet communications in the political sphere (and pretty much every other sphere), and the new GOP.com finally looks like it's playing in the same league.
Given the spiffy new design and smart tools for engaging people online, you might be surprised to hear that the launch of the new site in mid-October 2009 resulted in some less-than-positive buzz. Many would-be visitors had trouble accessing the site, and critics were quick to point out a few notable gaffes. Some of the critiques had more to do with politics than with Web best practices, but others were well-founded and illustrate important points that nonprofits should keep in mind as they redesign and relaunch their Web sites.
Content is still king
The day that the new GOP.com launched, the Web was alive with snickering commentary about some strategically unfortunate gaps in its content. Most notably, a page titled "Future Leaders" was left blank — when you clicked on the link, it returned a blank page, leading to amused speculation about the lack of future leadership in the Republican Party.