Whether you’re running for city council or school board, you need a website.
Every candidate should have a campaign website. Not only does it put a professional face on your campaign, but also because it opens opportunities to collect donations and data from supporters.
A well-designed website can be a low maintenance way to help your campaign win, but a bad website can cost you valuable time and money. Worse, a bad impression online can potentially cost you votes.
Some campaigns can afford to pay a website designer for a custom website. If you’re interested, check out our guide on how much a campaign website costs.
Most campaigns don’t need to pay a designer. You can make your own campaign website with one of the many campaign website builders.
Pick a campaign website builder
There are lots of options for campaign website builders. You can choose to use an all-purpose platform like squarespace or wix, but we built Ryvall especially for campaigns.
Ryvall is made to give you a professional looking website fast, taking care of the design for you so you can focus on the content.
If you aren’t sure what platform to use to build your site, learn more about these different types of website editors here.
Every website editor has it’s advantages and disadvantages. No matter what builder you use, a great website needs great content.
The best campaign websites have great photos
The secret to most good-looking websites is good looking photos. Even the most beautifully designed website will look bad with bad photos. You want your site to be mobile responsive, meaning different parts of your photo may be cropped out when switching from a desktop to a mobile device.
The easiest route to get good photos is to hire a photographer. Make sure they take some wider shots, not just close up portraits.
First, your photos should be taken in landscape, not portrait. Taking a step back from the camera, giving more space around you will help ensure your face looks good on all devices.
In most instances, standing with your face in the center of the frame, taking up no more than 1/3 of the width of the photo is safest. This will mean you will be seen in the photo from at least the waist up, so wear something nice. Avoid busy prints that will look strange when scaled down.
Write Compelling content
First and foremost: Your site should highlight who you are, and what office you are running for. Search engines prioritize text that is early in your website. Early in your site you should be sure to include the office you are running for and your full name.
Every website probably will have a slogan front and center. This should boil your campaign down into just a few quick words: “Proven Leadership,” “A Bold, New Approach,” or “Fighting For You”
Take some time to really think about what makes your campaign unique. Write as many down as you like, they’ll come in handy later. You can litter them across your website, use them on social media, and put them on mailers.
When it comes to the main section of your website it is easiest to start with your biography.
If you have no clue where to start try answering these questions: What do you currently do? What have you done in the past? What inspired you to run?
Some simple things to remember:
- You don’t need to list your entire resume
- Make it personal and tell your story
- Focus on what your background means for voters
Many great biographies are under 500 words, but if you feel strongly about writing more go ahead. One word of caution, most people find shorter paragraphs easier to read, so even if you write more, break it down to manageable chunks.
Additionally, stay away from too much complicated language. Not only is it better to write for a broad audience, but search engines reward sites with more readable language.
Many candidates choose to have issues sections on their website. You don’t need to write about every possible issue. You also don’t need to have the solution to every issue.
When describing your position, it’s generally better to paint with a broad brush. More important than solving a problem is showing voters that you care about the same things they do. If you have a personal connection to an issue that can be great to share.
Make your headlines matter for voter skimming your website. Rather that titling sections “Taxes” and “Education” try using verbs to communicate your stance, like “Cutting Taxes” and “Improving Education.”
Pick a website design that focuses on ease of use
The design of your site should be focused on making your content clear and readable, and pushing visitors to take action.
If your website doesn’t have a newsletter signup, a donate button, and some way to get in touch, it is not succeeding. These should be the first thing you focus on.
Make sure text is high contrast for accessibility. People usually find it easier to read dark text on a white background. If you do have text on a colored background, it is best to make the text white, as opposed to having two mid-tone colors layered on top of each other.
Don’t put text in images. People with disabilities or slow internet connections might not see it. Buttons should be actual highlightable clickable text, rather than a jpeg image or an icon.
Links and buttons should clearly communicate where someone is going when they click. If your donate button says: “Stand with John Doe,” it is not clear what’s happening. Stick to clear words like Donate or Contribute to make sure donors can easily find their way.
Note: “Stand With John Doe” might work great as a call to action in front of a donate button, but the clickable button itself should be clearly labeled.
You Need a Mobile Responsive Website
Over half of all your web traffic will probably come from mobile devices. If you only check your website on your desktop, you are not seeing what most visitors will see.
While there are lots of cool designs and tricks that can make a website look fancier on a phone or desktop, the single most important thing is to look at your site on both. Make sure you aren’t getting accidentally cut out of photos, that your text is readable, and that all of the buttons and navigation are clear and clickable.
Ryvall is a Website Builder designed for campaign
Everything that makes a great website is built into Ryvall’s campaign website builder. It will walk you through the content that you need, and will take care of ensuring your site is mobile responsive and well designed.
The best part, it’s free to try. Just create an account and start building your very own campaign website.