NOTE: This post is an assessment of the NSW senate parties’ websites, not their policies, and is therefore not an endorsement of any party or policy.
Regardless of the discussions about internet speeds and the NBN during campaigning for the Australian elections, it goes without saying that a good website is essential to any party seriously seeking votes.
We thought it would be interesting to evaluate the performance of the official websites of all the parties in the NSW Senate ballot to see how digitally savvy they were. We decided on the NSW Senate because our office is in Sydney.
Whoever you voted for, you might be interested in how your party/parties of choice stack up. A great website is a must for any party trying to get your vote these days. While it’s not an equal playing field (with some parties having much more money to spend improving their websites), we’ve found that covering the digital basics isn’t limited to big players (or to any particular part of the political spectrum).
Check out the results below, with the methodology after:
Here’s what we looked at:
- For each party, we looked at only the official website linked to from the AEC website, even if a party then tried to get you to click to a special website for their 2016 election campaign (as at least one website did).
- For mobile friendliness, we used Google’s Mobile-Friendly test. It doesn’t mind if the site is responsive or has a mobile theme, it just needs something to count it as mobile friendly. Websites got a 1 if it counted as friendly or a 0.
- For mobile and desktop speed, we used another Google PageSpeed Insights test. Google gives a percentage score for both desktop and mobile which we translated to a score between 0 and 1. To score 1 for both, a website would have to get 100% for both desktop and mobile, which we’ve never seen any website get (in politics or any other industry). But some are faster than others.
- For GTM and GA, we used the Tag Assistant (by Google) Chrome plugin. GTM is essential for the fast and consistent deployment of tags during campaigns that require quick turnaround (such as a federal election). It is of course, possible that a political website is using a non-Google tag management and digital analytics solution to optimise their website to resonate with voters, which we would not have picked up. However, even then it’s always worthwhile using Google Analytics because of the unique insights it can provide about demographic data, which is why we were ok scoring on this. A 0 or 1 was given depending on whether each feature was present or absent.
- For GA events, we clicked from the website to the party’s Facebook page and tested if this click was measured into the party’s Google Analytics account. Because if a party website just has the basic GA tag without customisation they can’t get insights such as the above. This is particularly important because party websites these days have lots of calls to action (donate, sign a petition, join our mailing list, follow us on social). If a party isn’t measuring this they can’t run their campaign as effectively as possible. A 0 or 1 was given depending on whether the feature was present or absent.
- For metadata, we performed a qualitative evaluation of the party’s homepage. A 0 was given if the meta title or meta description tags were missing or incomplete. A 0.5 was given if the fields were present but sub-optimal (eg. too short, too long, just listed the page name instead of the party message etc). A 1 was given if the fields were also good at communicating the party’s message, whatever that might be.
The final score was the sum of the individual scores with 7 being the maximum.
These are of course not the only criteria but we thought these were 7 very basic things for a website trying to convince its visitors to do something in Australia in 2016.
If you have a website in any industry you might want to find out where yours scores. You may be pleasantly surprised that it sits above some fairly well known political parties!