Today saw the launch of Liberal Democrat member of the London assembly, Mike Tuffrey‘s campaign to secure the party’s nomination for 2012’s Mayoral contest. Puffbox has been working with Mike for the last couple of weeks to put together a digital package that’s fairly modest for now, but with scope for expansion depending on how the party membership votes in August.
There isn’t much to say about the technical side of the new website: it’s a fairly straightforward WordPress custom theme, with posts for timely content, pages for background, and a custom homepage template. There’s an automated photo gallery, where you can access the full-size versions of any images uploaded to the site, but that’s about as clever as it gets. But it does everything it should, and all hangs together nicely.
The design is a bit of a departure, though: bigger, bolder and more vertical than usual, influenced to a significant extent by iPad apps. I’ve been particularly keen to experiment with presenting the text in columns, using a custom plugin which reclaims the WordPress ‘more’ button (which nobody ever uses). With the initial tranche of content, there aren’t too many examples of this, but you’ll have to trust me; it’s there.
Of course there are issues with columns on the web: they only really work when there’s ‘the right amount’ of text per page, with the column height fitting the (likely) screen resolution. Of course, this is where the iPad, and indeed the Kindle, benefit: you know exactly what screen size you’ll be dealing with. On the web, there’s no such luxury, so we can only base it on assumptions. But my instinct is that the benefit to readability makes it worth the risk.
Supporting the website, we’ve sorted out Google Apps accounts for the campaign team; and there’s a Mailchimp-based mailing list, only doing RSS-powered alerts for now, but with scope for specially-written mailshots in due course. Thinking ahead, we’re asking people to indicate where they live in London, which will allow us to run geo-targeted campaigns further down the line.
Now… thus far, Puffbox has a 100% record with political candidates: everyone we’ve built a site for has been successful in the electoral campaign they were fighting. Mike faces competition for the LibDem candidacy from Lembit Opik, with rumours of one or two others throwing their hats into the ring before nominations close at the end of the week. Of course, if Mike wins this initial contest, you wouldn’t perhaps be too confident about us preserving our perfect record against both Boris and Ken. But Mike’s keen to make full use of online in his campaigning; and his position as the inevitable underdog might give us scope to have some fun with it.
The result of the candidate selection is (currently) due to be announced on 12 August. Will it be glorious?