Your website is an essential part of your local party’s online presence. Chances are that your Facebook and your website will be the first place that people look for information about your party － that includes people who want to get involved and reporters looking for information for a story. It can also be a great resource for your membership. So here are 6 essential components of an effective local party website.
1. Choose an easy-to-use platform
It’s 2018, and you don’t need to know how to code to build a good-looking website. There are plenty of platforms that will let you build your website by dragging and dropping the elements you want － Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace are some of the easiest to use.
2. Tell them who you are and how to reach you
You will never be able to put all of the information someone wants on your website, so make it as easy as possible for someone with questions to get the answers they need.
To begin you will need an About Us link and a Contact link.
Answer those important first questions with the About Us link.
Then, at a minimum, you should have a generic email set up － for example, at NDTC, we direct anyone with questions to email [email protected]. Make sure someone checks it regularly and forwards emails to the best person to respond; having a link is no good if nobody ever checks it.
Visitors also want to know about the community members behind the organization. Include a list of your party’s leaders, and consider including contact information for members of the executive committee and leaders of any other committees.
Many successful parties also include contact information for every precinct committeeperson .
Pro tip: Some people use Google Voice to set up a separate phone number they use specifically for party business.
3. Loop them in with social links & email sign-up
Folks are unlikely to visit your website every day － and you’re unlikely to update it every day, either. But people do check their Facebook and email regularly, so direct people to those communication streams so they receive regular updates.
Include a link to your Facebook page, along with any other social media platforms your party utilizes. A lot of website templates will let you add these links in the header and/or footer of every page so people can always get to them easily. You should also add these links to your “Contact Us” page. Be sure to read our blog on getting the most out of Facebook here.
4. Maintain an updated calendar of events
Whether you have one event every month, or one every day, you want it to be as easy as possible for people to work party activities into their busy schedules, so make sure you have an updated calendar of events so people can easily find what’s coming up and plan ahead. You can embed a Google Calendar or use the calendar feature on your web platform.
You can also just add a page where you list upcoming events by date － then link every event title to the corresponding Facebook event so people can RSVP and easily get reminders as the event approaches.
However you do it, make sure to include the date, time, and venue for every event. And then remember to update your online calendar if the event changes. Also, update and remove old events. Stale content makes the page and the party look bad.
5. Highlight key voting info
There is no reason why your website shouldn’t have all of the information people in your county need to be able register and vote. When everything is included on your own website you can easily direct people there for the answers they need.
If your county’s website has good resources, you should link to those from your website. You can also write out clear, concise directions that help people participate in elections, and include those where people can easily find them on your own website. For example, consider including:
- Instructions and deadlines to register to vote, including relevant links
- Instructions and deadlines to request an absentee or vote-by-mail ballot
- Dates, times, and locations for in-person early voting
- Dates, times, and locations for voting on Election Day
- A polling place finder
- Contact information for services offering rides to the polls
- Sample ballots
6. Keep it simple － quality over quantity
When you start building a website, it can be tempting to add a lot. But it’s more important that people can easily find the information that matters － like contact info, event details, voting information, and links to your Facebook .
You might want to include other information － like links to candidate sites, a mission statement, or key documents (like bylaws and instructions on how to become a precinct committeeperson).
But don’t be in a rush － you don’t need those things, and you don’t need to do it all at once. Even if your entire website is just some contact information and a link to your Facebook, what matters is that people who want to get involved will be able to find you.
Just get started, and be sure to check out our course on Digital 101 !