With the 2015 General Election getting closer all UK political parties are under the magnifying glass; the spotlight is on and it is their time to campaign, impress voters and win votes. Like businesses, selling yourself as a Member of Parliament is all about marketing and the UK political parties do this in a number of ways, including their websites. Each party has a website dedicated to highlighting their views, spreading the word about the party and providing general information for voters and potential votes. But, are they all as good as each other?
Different Parties, Different Websites
Each party is extremely different and though some of their views on certain matters may overlap there are 7 key, seemingly different, UK political parties, excluding NI, in the 2015 General Election and with different parties comes different website styles and designs. By studying each individual website and comparing it to the others it is possible to determine whether the websites are equal when it comes to design, usability and the information provided.
The Conservative Party
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – When you first enter the Conservative website the colour theme is clear; red, white and blue. It is branded in accordance to the Conservatives well-used colours and it is easy and simple to navigate. Score – 8/10
SEO – The website is well optimised and ranks highly and above popular links such as Wikipedia for a number of keywords such as ‘conservatives’, ‘conservative party’. This website is easy to find with minimal effort. Score – 10/10.
Content Creation – The website does not overload you with content and a large emphasis is placed on headings and bold text, opposed to lengthy sentences of detailed text. Though the content is scarce, what is there is informative. Score – 6/10
Domain Authority – There is a large amount of domain authority with this website and having been in existence for over 15 years, the homepage has a very high page rank. Score – 7/10.
Page Load Times – The page load times of the Conservatives website is great; everything loads almost immediately and there is no waiting time for images or content to update. Score – 9/10
The Labour Party
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – Before entering the main website a question is presented, this engages a visitor but also puts a step before entering the main website. The website is well branded with Labour’s key colour red and has background videos to provide further engagement techniques. Score – 8/10.
SEO – The website ranks highest on Google for relatively ambiguous keywords such as ‘labour’, showing an incredibly high SEO ranking. Score – 10/10.
Content Creation – Similar to the Conservatives website, there is not a great deal of content and emphasis is placed on images, key headings and short, easy to understand sentences. Score – 6/10
Domain Authority – With a website age of close to 20 years, there is a high amount of domain authority held by the Labour Party website. It scores a domain authority ranking of 79 with moz. Score – 8/10.
Page Load Times – There are no problems with page load times and even images load quickly; some pages are a few seconds off of immediately loading. The blog however, does take slightly longer than expected compared to the rest of the website’s pages. Score – 7/10.
The Liberal Democrats
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – This website has a modern and fresh design; it clear shows news items, Twitter updates and videos in a blog-style design. Like the other websites it also clearly indicates where visitors can sign up for updates and more news. Score – 7/10.
SEO – The website is well SEO and ranks top for ‘nickname’ search terms such as ‘lib dems’. The home page rankings above Wikipedia and therefore the SEO works well to have the website found easily online. Score – 10/10
Content Creation – A lot of content is present on the website in the form of blogs, news and articles. This keeps the content up to date and fresh; something that is appealing for repeat visitors. Score – 7/10.
Domain Authority – Like the previous websites, the Lib Dems website also has a lot of domain authority and a large number of backlinks; all of which work well to create a safe and secure website for visitors.
Page Load Times – The page load times are quick and images load in line with the text; no waiting for images to load mid-page viewing is required. Score – 8/10.
UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – In a similar way to the Labour Party website, the UKIP page also begins with a page dedicated to entering details to sign up for information; this is done in an obvious and clear way. When entering the website further, it is fully branded with UKIP colours purple and yellow and has easy to find news updates and social media links. Score – 6/10.
SEO – The website is easy to find in search engines, though does rank below news stories for some search terms. Overall the SEO is good and in the same way as the other UK political party websites, it is easy to find online and has a good online presence. – 6/10.
Content Creation – The website has a lot of content and clearly details the party’s policies and people. A large emphasis is placed on the news section and it is written in an informative and detailed way. A lot of detail is given via content on the UKIP website and it plays a big part in relaying information to visitors. Score – 8/10.
Domain Authority – With an moz ranking of 68, the website’s domain authority is not as high as some of the other UK political parties’ websites. However, this does not affect its page ranking as the URL has been registered for close to 15 years. Score – 7/10.
Page Load Times – Though the pages load quickly and all images load well, the small amount of waiting time between page loading could be improved. However, this does not affect the viewing or the website’s use. Score – 7/10.
The Green Party
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – When first visiting the Green Party website it is immediately clear what the website is about. It is well-branded, easy to navigate and appealing for users. However, the website may come across as busy or crowded to those who prefer simple, minimal website designs. Score – 7/10.
SEO – The website is well optimised for search engine use and it is easy and quick to find online. The homepage ranks on the top spot of Google and is followed by another page of the website, meaning not only can users find the home page but they can directly visit another page. Score – 10/10.
Content Creation – The content is easy to understand and is situated between websites with very little content and those with pages and pages of detail. Each section is clearly explained, described and the content is informative. Score – 9/10.
Domain Authority – As one of the UK political party websites with the least domain authority when ranked by Moz, this does not hinder its SEO, or number of external links to the website. Score – 6/10.
Page Load Times – Page load times, as with the other websites reviewed, is nearly perfect. Images load immediately, the pages load all at once and visitors are not left waiting for certain areas of a webpage to load after others. Score – 8/10.
The Scottish National Party
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – The Scottish National Party’s website is set out in a way that is similar to news websites with a scrolling news and image section at the top and popular pages just below. The design is modern, up to date and is well-branded with colour. However, with a small header and small logo it is not immediately apparent that the website is that of a UK political party. Score – 6/10.
SEO – SEO for this website is done well and it ranks highly for both ‘Scottish National Party’ and ‘SNP’; this means that regardless of whether searches use the party’s full title of its abbreviation, the home page can be found. In this case ‘Scottish National Party’ ranks above news stories and ‘SNP’ ranks just below. Score – 10/10.
Content Creation – A lot of content can be found on the website on everything from policies to people and recent news updates. This provides visitors with a lot of information, but may be too ‘busy’ for those that are merely looking for basics about the party. Score – 7/10.
Domain Authority – The website has a similar domain authority to other UK political party’s websites but fewer external links. However, this does not affect the SEO or site usability. Score – 5/10.
Page Load Times – Pages load quickly and this is constant throughout the website and the blog. All images load well and external links to social media accounts also work close to immediately. Score – 8/10.
Overall Look, Appeal and Freshness – This website is a lot busier and has more to look at that some of the other UK political party’s websites. It is not immediately clear where a user’s attention should be drawn to first and this prevents easy navigation. However, to contrast this the overall look of the website is good and it is well-branded and interesting to look at, though not as modern as some many expect. Score – 6/10.
SEO – Though the website has poor domain authority it ranks well on search engines for many keywords such as ‘plaid cymru’ and ‘welsh party’ and both versions of the website are in the top Google search results. This makes the website easy to find for both English and Welsh language speakers. Score – 8/10.
Content Creation – Out of all the websites reviewed this has the most content. Pages are dedicated to each policy, party member and the manifesto and all the information required from the party is given. However, this may negatively impact users who would like a brief overview of the party and their policies, as a lot of detailed content needs to be sieved through first. The content is available in both Welsh and English which is a big advantage to a party who has a specific support base but different language options. Score – 8/10.
Domain Authority – The website only has a domain authority ranking of 1; this is true for the official homepage and the English equvalent (http://www.partyof.wales/). Score – 1/10.
Page Load Times – The page load times vary across the web pages; some load immediately, some had images that load slightly after the content and others that take longer than expected to change to a new web page. Though the web page load times are not constant across the board in this case, it does not have too much of a negative impact on the usability of the site. Score – 6/10.