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Political Website Basics for Dummies

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Political Website Basics

Most of Our Articles Assume that You Know How to Campaign on the Web. This article is for those who need to know the basics of building a political website.

There are Three Parts to Having a Website.

1. You must find a good domain name that you can buy or rent which is like the location of a billboard on the highway.

2. You must create the website which is like the advertisement that will be put on that billboard.

3. You must hire a computer/server hosting service which is like the company that physically places the ad up on the billboard.

Buying or Renting a Domain Name is Simple. First you must find a good name that is available. Write down several names that you want to test. Check our list to see if we already own one that you can rent from us. If not, check to see if it is available for purchase. If it is available then buy it for two years minimum (for technical reasons relating to search engines) and thru the next election cycle maximum (so that if you win you won’t lose the domain).

Political Website Basics for Dummies

Creating the Website: Campaign websites can be as simple and cheap as putting a copy of your brochure or pushcard up to the full blown (and expensive) interactive sites we see today. It just depends on your needs.

Depending on what you are willing to pay, there are professionals and amateurs willing to do this work for you. Professionals obviously cost more but their work looks great and makes a good impact. Plus you can sample their previous sites to get a feel for what you want. Amateurs can be found at any college campus (MIS students or computer science professors looking for extra cash) and will work for cheap so that they can build a portfolio. Two recommendations for all candidates:

You should make sure that whoever you hire creates the website from scratch and doesn’t simply copy someone else’s on the web since accusations of plagiarism and copyright violations could destroy your campaign. For a kinda funny example click here to see what happened to John McCain’s MySpace page when his web developer used some stolen code.

Avoid having your campaign website be managed by a volunteer. Campaigns need to be nimble and someone (even if just a college kid) who is being paid by the campaign to update the website has an obligation to perform work in a timely manner rather than when they have the spare time to get around to it. After all, it is difficult to fire a volunteer! Plus it helps the campaign view the website as integral to the election rather than just “the thing that Ted is taking care of for us.”

Web Hosting Decisions: Most hosting is simple. We recommend MojoMonster.com because their computer servers where your website will be hosted are located in a telecommunications building which means your site will be quick to load and suffer fewer reliability problems. Or, if you buy a domain you will be offered a hosting package to go along with it (but you don’t have to choose to buy their hosting plan and can choose another hosting firm instead). Don’t lock yourself into any long-term plans. Find a good hosting company and buy the smallest, cheapest plan you think you will need. You can always upgrade later if the need arises. You should focus on:

  • Size of Site – How big will your website be? Do you expect to have a lot of pictures or videos? If so then you will need to buy a larger hosting package.
  • Bandwidth – How many people will visit your site and what will they do? If you keep most of your pictures and video off your homepage then you can purchase less bandwidth as well as reach out to more people with slower internet connections.
  • Performance – Is it all automated or are they willing to help you load your site up? Also, any host should be able to tell you what their downtime performance is. Anything below 97% is unacceptable. A routine uptime of 95% may sound good but it means that they were down for over 8 hours each week.
  • Price – There are a lot of hosts so shop around for the best deal based on your needs. Don’t swing at the first pitch!

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