Obama’s website versus Information Architecture

Bush vs. Obama. Who has the better website you say? The Washington Times writes a compelling discussion that pits style and image versus information and usability. Its interesting because of the politics that gets wrapped into this age old debate between designers and information architects. Is President Obama’s site a reflection of his missed promise of NOT being transparent because the site is hard to find content? Does it play more to building a brand that communicating policies?

Lets not be crazy like a man wearing cheese underwear to a cracker convention, President Bush’s site was bad. However, I do not think that reflects on the man because the site had to hold and distribute 8 years of presidential activity. His site looked the role of a news disseminator while Obama’s site plays the part of image builder.

These distinctions bring me to a interesting point that most creative directors facing a web project — is our priority building a brand or distributing info. One would think that Obama’s new media director Macon Philips had to answer that and thought about the primary audience as a deciding factor. The press will go to whitehouse.gov for transcripts but I doubt they are the primary audience for Obama at this stage – its image building. Its introducing a new president to a country, so I feel its appropriate to reflect the visual cues to who Obama is. He is confident, cool and stylish.

The Washington Times finds that dubious and would prefer a well archived site with data one click away. I agree and if the site does not evolve into a disseminator of info I will join a chorus of form follows function, but for now I’m enjoying a president that is visually engaging his audience.

He can get boring and start walking around the house in nacho stained t-shirts after the honeymoon.

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Michael has spent the past 20 years applying his experience and superpowers to further the missions of social-good organizations, and has no plans to stop.
June 23rd, 2009 // // , ,
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