The new Lib Dem website is up: the good, the bad and the ugly...

Well, on the whole I think the new website is great. I love all the extra functionality around getting involved. I love the fact that all I do is put in my postcode (wow – interactivity!!!) and I get details of my local party and my constituency MP or candidate. And when I do look at a person I get their contact details and the opportunity to offer my help, there and then!

So, all that I am about to say below needs to be taken in the context that it is infinitely better than what it has replaced which was dull and old fashioned and really rather hard to navigate around. Because this new web site is so much better at presenting information about who we are and what we are saying, it highlights the gaps and our blind spots so much more effectively.

I liked the tag list on the right hand side (although I prefer the aesthetics of a tag cloud) but I did notice once again that while we had room for all sorts of esoteric tags we have no room for anything on Women, Equality, Diversity or even more specific topics such as Domestic or Sexual Violence. Do we really have nothing to say on these issues as a party? We talk a lot wanting more diverse people to come and join us and put themselves forward for election both in elections and internally within the party but if I were somebody interested in those things coming to the Lib Dem website, I would think that we don’t seem to be that interested in women, diversity or highlighting important issues like rape and domestic violence.

We have however managed to find room for tags on ‘Older People’, ‘Families’ and ‘Children’; I wonder sometimes if we use the word ‘families’ as a euphemism for ‘women’, which of course if you’re like me, 37 and you don’t’ have kids, it is not and I do not take kindly to those who conflate the two groups.

It makes us look like a party of well, mostly white men. It’s something I noticed whilst I was browsing the Scottish Lib Dem website the other day (putting Who’s Who in the Lib Dems Online together takes you to the most surprising places); having photos up is great, really good and the way to go, but gosh doesn’t it reinforce the idea that we are a party dominated by white men? Of course, it’s not true, 40% of our membership is female but boy, you wouldn’t know it to look at the web site.

It cannot be too hard a thing to make the effort to look a bit more diverse, surely? I mean, the Tories who pay lip service to this idea are much, much better at looking like they care, even if they don’t. Having just had a quick look at our, Labour’s and the Conservative Party Website, ours is definitely the best now (beams with pride) but the Tories’, amazingly, looks the most diverse. I say: if you have to do two scrolls down to see a female face in our list of MPs then ditch the alphabetical order.

Having a lot more contact details of course makes it more obvious when peers people think that they are above providing a way to get in contact with them electronically. I have to say, my Who’s Who is pretty light at the moment on Peers just because they are so hard to get in contact with. When they do give an email address half the time it bounces. This is of course a generalisation and some of them are very easy to contact.

I like the photos of the staff. But really, all that hierarchy? Defining everybody by whether they are senior management or middle management? Yuk! How old fashioned! I think everyone’s photo should be on their irrespective of how the hierarchy favours them.

Lastly, the colour! Now, I’m no fan of our Lib Dem yellow or gold at the best of times but does this website have to be quite so orange?

So really, this is less a criticism of the website as a channel and its functionality but more of the content and the lack of leadership we have in certain areas.

What would I add? Because this does look like a structure that it is easy to add to; which, again, is great!

I like to profusion of pictures even if they do highlight out lack of diversity. However why just stop at elected representatives and staff? What about putting up pictures of those who are on the various party committees, SAOs, AOs, regions and working groups? After all, they put in a lot of hard work all absolutely for free! They don’t even get an allowance and putting up their photo on the website may not compensate for all that time but at least recognises their contribution which can be greater than those who have been elected at times. Plus it would make it easier for the rest of us to recognise them.

I’m not sure why Lib Dem Voice has been left off the other sites…maybe I just didn’t see it. I would add Lib Dem Voice.; didn’t there used to be a link on the old website?

Can there be a link to Who’s Who in the Lib Dems Online…or is that just too cheeky?

I would also put in a section for Lib Dems in the media. Lots of Lib Dems write in various media whether local, press, online or on the TV. For example, James Graham regularly writes in Comment is Free and is billed as a Lib Dem, as is Olly Kendall. I am billed as a Lib Dem when I do a regular slot on Sky.Com News (even though what I go on to talk about is rarely about the Lib Dems). This need not be set up as a feed and the web site could be selective about what it puts up. Of course, not all Lib Dems are open about their membership and I think they would have to be asked but raising our profile in the media shouldn’t just be about our elected representatives.

Well done Mark, well done everybody involved!!!


Mark Pack said...
10 Sep 2008, 17:40:00

Interesting thoughts. One quick factual point - Lib Dem Voice is in the rosta of 'other sites' which appear. Will take more time to digest rest of your comments over the next few days.

Jennie said...
11 Sep 2008, 00:44:00

" I wonder sometimes if we use the word ‘families’ as a euphemism for ‘women’"

Didn't you know that this is all women are interested in - babies and so forth?

lizw said...
11 Sep 2008, 13:59:00

Totally agree with you on the colour. It actually comes out as mostly brown on my screen - it looks like a particularly unappetising page from a 1970s cookbook!

Goddard Designer said...
7 Oct 2008, 06:25:00
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Jo Christie-Smith said...
7 Oct 2008, 09:28:00

Sorry - not particularly interested in having people comment adverts on my site - so the comment has been removed.

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