New Tory site completes the set

There are quite a few reasons to warm to the new site. A refreshing colour palette; well-executed content tabs; a good solid navbar along the top; and most importantly, lots of human faces. The source code drops all the right names: Flash, Amazon web services, JQuery, Lightbox, and so on. But the apparent obsession with iPod-style ‘coverflow’ effects seems a bit over the top: I can just about forgive the Photo Gallery, but as an entry to the Policy section, it’s just unnecessary glitz.
I must admit, I expected to see much more David Cameron across the site – given his unarguable skills in front of camera, and the relative anonymity of the rest of his front bench. Webcameron is still a live project, and gets a tab on the homepage, but it isn’t – currently – opened by default. Today’s ‘news’ section includes one Cameron pic, plus the faces of two Party spokespeople; but the headlines don’t name them, there’s no room for a summary, and frankly I don’t immediately recognise them. (Their names are in the ALT tags, but I’m not sure that’s much help.) Yet the Ordinary Members in the Wall get an on-page namecheck… curious.
The handling of the local angle is also a bit of a surprise. There’s no ‘enter your postcode’ box on the homepage; instead, clicking the ‘Where you live‘ link in the primary nav takes you to a regional map of the UK (rendered, again unnecessarily in Flash) – and thence to a region homepage. This might be a conscious move ahead of next year’s European elections, but it still feels odd: does anybody actually identify with their region? When you get there, there’s rarely a strong connection between the content and the region – and the postcode search, when you finally find it, doesn’t work at all. Hey, at least Labour’s lookup worked.
There’s been a lot of attention on The Blue Blog: the site’s new group blog, featuring posts from Cameron, fellow front-benchers, and other party people. It’s lacking some obvious functions – eg author by author RSS feeds – but it seems to work well, and it’s a smart move to tie the categorisation into the site’s main thematic classification, even though most topics aren’t being used yet. To comment, you have to be signed up to the site: understandable I suppose, but still a disappointment. Comparison with ConservativeHome will be inevitable, and it’ll be interesting to see what relationship develops (if any) between them.
And as for the Wall of supporters… hmm. The homepage snapshot is good, with deliberate echoes of Facebook, and they’ve clearly given some thought to the Wall page itself. But I’m not sure it works (yet): the clips are either too slick (scripted?), or too rough. At least they’re short and snappy.
Overall, I think I like it. There’s plenty of content, and it’s generally well structured. The design is excellent, but the Flash stuff goes too far. The steps into the social side are welcome, but I find myself a bit disappointed at the micro level: the new LibDems site feels like it’s giving a much better view of local activities and individuals.

2 thoughts on “New Tory site completes the set”

  1. It’s certainly cost a lot of cash, and it’s an improvement on the previous one… I do wonder where their branding is going though – the tree logo is now far from prominent.
    It’s better than Labour’s site, but then it would be hard for it not to be…

  2. I don’t like it – there’s litle there that is new or that clever. Labour at least offer some very cool tools.

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