How to Run for Office: Website Basics
January 21, 2018
Websites are crucial to political campaigns for a couple of reasons. They are a form of media that you control as the candidate. While you can control social media accounts, they’re usually a short form of content and not the best place to go into detail about who you are and your stance issues.
Websites are a great place to organize content; it’s sort of like a directory that supports can use to find information about you, sign up for volunteering, or make contributions to your campaign.
Most importantly, websites help you establish credibility and viability. Without these two things, you cannot win an election. When people Google your name, you want your website to pop up at the top of the search results.
Read on for our top tips on what kind of content you ought to include on your website.
1. Stick to the basics.
You don’t need to hire a web designer to get your own website off the ground. The site itself doesn’t need to be anything fancy: the more modern it looks, the better. There are plenty of inexpensive and/or free platforms that you can build your website on. WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, and Weebly are great places to start. And if you do a simple Google search, there are certainly more options that you can find.
2. Keep everything in high res.
Make sure all graphics you upload to your website are in high resolution. This goes for any kind of image, from photos to infographics. Nothing makes a high quality website look sloppy like a low resolution picture. Check, then double check, that all graphics and images you upload are high resolution.
3. Links, links, links!
People are using your website as a sort of directory of your campaign — it’s a jumping off point for more information, a place where they can donate, where they can follow you on social media.
You’ll want to clearly display links to your online donation site.
Don’t make visitors search for this page — your donation page should be an easy click away.
Include links to your social media as well. Urge users to follow your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts for more updates about your election. If you’ve decided to start a blog for your campaign, you’ll want a link to that as well.
An important notes about links: it’s enormously helpful to have links open in a new tab rather than redirect the user to an outside website. If you have control over this option, make sure that links open in a new tab so that your user isn’t immediately taken away from your website.
4. A place to sign up for more information.
You’ll also want a place on your website where visitors can sign up for emails or volunteer for your campaign. Make this as prominent as your donation page — people are more likely to actually sign up if the option is easy to find.
5. Establish your identity.
The campaign website is the perfect place for you to include a biography about yourself and your issue positions. While social media is a great place to get the word out about your stances, the website is where you can be more specific and detailed about your history, qualifications, and why you’re running for office. Most campaigns have a whole page dedicated to the issues central to their campaign, and why the candidates feel so strongly about those specific topics.
Now that you have the basic knowhow of what a website should look like, go forth and create your campaign website! If you need more examples of what a campaign website looks like, just Google the names of other Democratic candidates running for office: they likely have some great ideas that you can use as well.
Make sure you include your disclaimer (ie the “paid for” line). You’ve seen it before — “Paid for by X.” You’ll want to check with the governing body for your election to ensure you’ve included the correct language.
And remember that we here at the National Democratic Training Committee are here to help you as we move into the 2018 midterms. In fact, you should take our Digital Campaigning: Getting Started course to learn more about how to set up the digital aspects of your campaign.
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