We’ve got this election going in Canada, and the dead-tree newspapers are busy rushing their election coverage into the 1980s. Instead of merely reviewing campaign commercials, now they’re reviewing Web sites!
The standards of comparison are all wrong, as befitting a medium that still measures the length of stories in column inches. Of course they don’t know how to evaluate a Web site, which would include assessments of graphic design, navigation, usability (particularly under difficult conditions, like a slow modem on an old computer), accessibility, and of course content. Yes, if you are a detractor of a certain party, the fact that the party’s site failed to budge you even a millimetre can be germane.
The biggest paper in Canada, the storied Toronto Star, an operation with a technical infrastructure that gives a Brezhnev-era telephone switchboard a run for its money, shakes its withered hand at the TV screens attached to their typewriters and reviews the oligopolist federal parties’ sites. (Note: One of the commentators is billed as a Web designer himself. God help us all.)
Attallah: I can’t imagine anyone wanting to come back a second time. There’s nothing very interactive - no audio clips, not even the TV commercials. [...]
Custode: A hip and interactive site that impressed me the most overall. It looks like they had a lot of people working on it. They’ve got a version of the party platform with animated graphics. Very professional. [...]
Presenza: They’re trying to use all the technology available, with streaming video and audio. It’s very funky, very modern and it’s got the best links to other sites. [...]
Attallah: They’re effectively running their TV campaign on the Internet with clips of [a party leader and his daughter] and some MPs. They gave me the strongest reason to come back to a site. [...]
Attallah: When you go to this site, the first thing that happens is that they’ve got their hands out asking for money – a pop-up window that you have to close. It’s the most annoying site.
Where to begin? (Well, how about the title of the story? “Luring voters into their Web.” Bleeding-edge, huh?)
We’re sort of morally opposed to assisting political parties, no matter how worthy. We wouldn’t assist a slaughterhouse or a tobacco juggernaut or Microsoft, either, so don’t take it personally. But there are two obvious things to do on a political Web site:
Which is worst: Political parties that don’t get the net, political consultants who don’t, or newspapers that don’t?
Posted on 2000-11-07