Don't worry about a lot of bells and whistles
If you look at political websites of Presidential and Senatorial candidates, you may be a little intimidated by what your website needs to do. Those sites allow voters to sign petitions (which is just a way to collect information - the petitions don't mean anything), buy t-shirts and bumper stickers and watch their campaign speeches. Your website doesn't have to be that advanced.
Here's what your website should do:
- allow media to be able to quickly find out what you're about and how to contact you.
- allow supporters and potential donors to have an easy way to help your campaign.
- allow the very few undecided voters who will view your website to read and understand your message.
- because it has become so inexpensive to do, you want your website to be connected to a database of the voters in your district.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for your website:
Get a professional to set it up
The look of a campaign website does matter. It tells media and potential supporters whether you're serious about running or not. They know you can get a professional website for a few hundred dollars, so when you have one that looks like it was built in 1996, it looks sloppy. Check out elance or one of the many other "freelancer" websites to find a campaign website designer if you don't know one personally.
Make sure you can accept donations
Few people will find your site, decide they love you and immediately donate to your campaign. But when you send emails asking for money you want to link to your website. When you talk to a potential donor or in person, sending the donation link a few hours later is a great way to follow up and remind them of their commitment. In fundraising, you always want to make it as easy as possible to contribute.
Make sure volunteers can sign up for specific tasks
You may get volunteers out of the blue. You never know how many people are frustrated with the incumbent or looking to finish a high school service project. Make sure they have options to choose from - but don't go too crazy. Five or six options is enough.
Bonus: Make sure it doubles as a voter database
This is a newer feature for local campaigns, as the cost has recently gone down. Some allow you to upload voter databases to the back end of the site, and this is a phenomenal way to keep track of your voter contacts. Each evening after doorbelling, you can log into your website and put notes in for each voter, then tag that as supporters, non-supporter or undecideds.
- The pitfalls of launching your website (Campaigns & Elections)
- Getting your campaign website right (Campaigns & Elections)
- Ready, set, launch (Campaigns & Elections)
- How to rank in google searches (The Campaign Workshop)
If you would like to get more campaign tips, you can check out "Running for Office" magazine, subscribe to the blog or connect with me on twitter or LinkedIn. You can also get an campaign tips emailed to you once a week by signing up to to the right of this post.