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23rd January
2009
written by Tony
Obama's campaign website

Obama's campaign website

The new White House website

The new White House website

I discovered today that there is a new whitehouse.gov, so I decided to check it out. You can see the screen shots above (click on the right side of the  expanded image to go to the next and the left to go to the previous to make a quick comparison between the two).  I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised by the continued outpouring of good design from Obama. As you recall, I was very impressed by Obama's first site and certainly like to attribute the use of best practices, design-wise, to some of (actually a lot of) his success. As I browsed through the new White House site several things struck me. From what I can gather from the internets it appears Sender llc out of Chicago was the main architect of the Obama brand. They collaborated with a firm called mo/de and the platform for the site was built using architecture from Blue State Design. I think that covers my due diligence for this article. On to the interesting part: the actual design. Obama has managed to create a brand that resonates not only with the more traditional segments of the electorate, but also with one that was previously largely untapped: the youth. He did it with his campaign site and has done it again with the White House site. Obama proclaims that this will be the most transparent administration the nation has ever known, and the new site design certainly is poised to make good on that promise. The website is the most open, inviting and usable government site I have ever encountered. Not only is it exceptional for a government site, but it stands head and shoulders above the majority of websites on the internet, in any segment. It has a blog for heaven's sake, with a big old link to it that is easy to find. Several design cues have been carried over from Obama's previous website. Not so many as to make the new site a copy, but enough to make it feel... familiar. There is the nice use of the rule with a drop shadow as a paragraph divider, the transparency effects in the header of the site (showing off the dental molding on what is, I assume, the ceiling of the oval office). The light, high key color scheme opens the site up and makes it feel bigger than your screen. The large flash-based news window below the menu bar is essentially a carry over from the campaign site and the careful, serifed menu and header typography echoes the type choices from the campaign materials. All in all it is very cohesive and I almost expect the O logo to show up where the seal of the president is. It's clear from his campaign and the new White House website that our new president is very technologically savvy, or at least intelligent enough to recognize that technology and accessibility are now essential components of our society. There is no better way to open the government to the public than through the internet and for the first time in history we have the chance to really be a part of our government in a new and exciting way. I think this presidency is poised to be ground breaking in many ways beyond simply the color of Obama's skin once everything is said and done. Certainly he will go down as the first president to have a branded marketing campaign that carried over into office. I truly believe that Obama's campaign was a game-changer. Future candidates will have no choice but to bow to the technology that swept Obama into office. Who knows, maybe one day we'll all "tweet" (or is it twit?) our votes for the next President to be. Gads, I certainly hope not, but you see what I'm saying. On an interesting side note, despite having the most technologically savvy administration, perhaps ever, they have found themselves hobbled by the very goal they set out to achieve. This article on msnbc talks about the advanced decay of the technology in the White House and its hobbling effects on Obama's mobility and connectivity accustomed staff. It's worth noting that this article mentions that Obama has yet to live up to his promises of transparency based on the slow or non-existent updates on the new White House site. Granted, but it has also only been two days and it would seem that perhaps some of the delay could be blamed on the abysmal tech situation on Capitol Hill. In any case, I maintain that Obama's administration is, as I said, poised to make a change. Only time will tell if they do. www.whitehouse.gov www.barackobama.com/index.php

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