Advocacy campaign sites are a distinct breed — whether about human rights or business taxes, they generally do the same things and even usually LOOK quite similar. Why? For one thing, hard experience: online organizers have now had enough years in the business to have a good idea of what works, so it’s relatively straightforward to put together a list of necessary features and handy extras. Another reason is time: advocacy sites are often created quickly, even overnight (for example, I designed and built this one in two days back in 2007), which tends to encourage a certain uniformity of appearance (creativity takes time!).
But overnight sites don’t have to be ugly or feature-poor, and for a good example check out the excellent piece Duane Raymond wrote this week about the experience of launching the 64 for Suu site, intended to drum up support for Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi, in just six days. Besides the time constraint, the planners also had to fly completely under-the-radar until launch, which made it hard to ask for help in public!
The site takes a social approach, encouraging visitors to leave 64-word messages in support of her either through the site or via Twitter, and is careful to feature text and video messages from politicians and celebrities (never hurts to have the pretty people on your side). The site is generally well-designed, particularly considering the time constraints, and the separate blog shares similar graphics for a good branding tie-in. All in all impressive, and Duane does a great job of explaining the strategic thinnking that drove the site’s planning and construction.
BTW, here’s another campaign site that caught my eye today, in this case via a video ad on washingtonpost.com — General Aviation Serves America, designed to fight new fees on light aircraft and featuring a video from actor and pilot Harrison Ford. Though it has a little more of a cookie-cutter feel than 64forSuu.org, it incorporates the right features (email signup, social networking links, video, a blog, and even text-message alerts) and definitely gets the job done. We’ll no doubt see endless numbers of smaller sites like these over the next few years; it wouldn’t surprise me if a few of them helped pay the mortgage on the ol’ e.politics bunker.