Bits and Bytes for June 28, 2004

  |  June 28, 2004   |  Comments

Politicos take to the Web as convention season begins.

Democratic National Committee Revamps Web Site

As the presidential campaign heats up, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is launching an enhanced version of its Web site, Democrats.org, with new interactive features.

With the Get Local feature, users can type in the name of their state and get a page listing the Democratic Party organizations in their areas, along with a list of newspapers, radio stations and other information. The page also includes a link to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's site and to a site where users can register to vote.

The ePatriots feature makes it possible for users to create personalized Web pages accepting contributions. It is prominently displayed in the upper-left hand side of the homepage in a format that resembles a yellow sticky note, another feature of the redesign.

Political cartoons now appear on the site, and when users click on the cartoons for a larger view, a drop-down form appears for users to register for the site.

The redesign, announced Monday, aims to "empower the user," according to Juan Proano, president and co-founder of Plus Three, the strategic marketing and technology agency that designed the technology behind the new features.

Hopefully, the redo will also beef up the site's traffic. For the month of May 2004, the Democratic National Committee's Web site had 606,000 visitors from home and work, while the Republican National Committee's site had 1.4 million visitors from home and work, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

"They're good ideas in practice," noted Jesse James Garrett, a partner in user-experience firm Adaptive Path, of the new features. "Localization resources and functionality that allows people to establish a Web presence associated with the campaign were some of the most successful features of campaign sites we evaluated in the primary season."

New York Attorney General Jumps on Blog Bandwagon

Eliot Spitzer, New York's attorney general, is the latest addition to the ranks of bloggers. Spitzer, expected to run for public office in 2006, has his own Web site, www.spitzer2006.com, which will soon feature a Spitzer blog.

The blog, and the Web site, are part of Spitzer's campaign efforts. "We organized a committee, 'Spitzer 2006,' for the attorney general to run for statewide office in New York. He may run for reelection, he could run for comptroller, he could run for lieutenant governor or governor," said Grant Draper, deputy manager of Spitzer 2006.

"He will be blogging on a regular basis" and will blog daily during the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July, according to Draper. The attorney general's blog will continue regularly after the convention, Draper said.

Spitzer's Web site is being produced by I Stand For, a firm that creates and maintains Web sites for political candidates and nonprofit organizations. I Stand For's president and CEO, Andrew Weinreich, is an entrepreneur who sold sixdegrees.com, a social networking site, for $125 million in January 2000.

Candidates' Web sites have emerged as a major marketing force for political candidates this year. Though many believe it all started with Howard Dean, who raised some $40 million via his Web site and influenced the other contenders with Web-based marketing and campaigning innovations, others believe the true forerunner was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain connected 500 people around the country in a live Webcast and raised $200,000 in one night after his victory in the 2000 New Hampshire primary.

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