Puffbox site wins election award

Front left: back of my head. Front right: back of Mark Pack's head.

This morning, shortly before 11am. I’m sitting in the waiting room at the local GPs’ surgery. Nothing serious; just a routine appointment for a family member. Things are running a bit late, as usual, so I casually start looking at Twitter.
An event about the internet and the election? Ah well, another of those London events I never get to attend. A report being published? Cool, I’ll read it tonight. Some awards? Always worth a look. I wonder who’ll win. Oh look, somebody’s leaked the results. Er… it appears I’ve won. And the train I need to catch is in 15 minutes. So, dedicated family man that I am, I abandon said family member in the waiting room, and (literally) make a run for the station.
The event marked the publication of Anthony Painter‘s excellent – although perhaps too diplomatic? – analysis of the digital election, brought to you in association with Orange. Whilst much of its content will be familiar to anyone reading this, there will certainly be a few examples you won’t previously have heard of. Well worth a read.
And I’m delighted to note that Puffbox client Lynne Featherstone was the unanimous winner of the day’s big award, for Best Use of Digital Campaigning by a Candidate, ahead of Anthony Calvert’s (ultimately unsuccessful) ‘castration’ attempt, and Walthamstow’s media-savvy Labour MP, Stella Creasy.
Anthony’s report is wonderfully complimentary about our work on Lynne’s site:

On every level, Lynne Featherstone’s campaign site excelled: design, engagement, relevance, information. It featured a ‘Lifestream’, which was basically a live feed of all of Featherstone’s social media and web engagements… Her campaign secured a swing of almost 4% against Labour against a national swing of 3.5% (though in London the swing from Liberal Democrat to Labour was only 1.25% so it’s an even better performance by that measure.)

In a brief chat afterwards, I couldn’t resist reminding Lynne that, at one of our first meetings, I’d promised we would deliver a website which would win awards. I’d said that because I’d meant it: an all-too-characteristic moment of wild optimism on my part. We’d actually had our eye on the then-annual BCS Awards for MPs’ websites; but they were cancelled last year… so this news comes as quite a relief, actually!
Lynne was very complimentary about me in her remarks; compliments I’m happy to return (and more). The site was designed entirely around her – her activities, her personality, her narrative, for want of a better word. I’ve since had a good number of enquiries from people asking ‘could we have a website just like Lynne’s’ – and I’ve said ‘no’ every time. (We’ve generally then gone on to design something equally attractive, but more appropriate.)
Once again, I must thank Jonathan Harris, who worked with me on the concept and design; and Mark Pack, who looked after a lot of the technical stuff at the constituency end – not to mention Helen Duffett and others on Lynne’s team. They’re a genuinely great bunch, and all deserve a slice of the recognition.
I can’t tell you how chuffed I am about this. And if I’d promised to do something for you today: sorry.

No awards for MPs' websites this year

bcsawardBad news for anyone who’s just put a massive amount of work into an innovative, cutting-edge website for an MP. (Ahem.) I’ve received confirmation from the British Computer Society – oops, sorry, ‘BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT’ – that their annual awards recognising the best websites by Members of Parliament aren’t quite as ‘annual’ as the label might suggest.
I noticed that the new BCS website seemed to be downplaying the info on their MP Website Awards – and emailed to ask if it was still happening this year. The response – quite telling in its own way – came back:

The decision was taken earlier this year not to hold the competition this year. We decided that would give MPs time to have another look at their websites as, while some had really made efforts to improve their sites as a result of our first year competition, a significant proportion had not. BCS is still very much interested in the competition and we hope we can take it forward in the future.

A pity. But then again, I suppose those websites will be facing the ultimate test of their effectiveness – with their constituents in a general election – next spring.