French election sites 2007

In 6 weeks, the French will vote for their new president. There’s quite a stir going on on the web despite the horrid tone of the general campaign (interesting people have been drowned out in the populist brawl between the two main contenders until very recently, and then only the centrist candidate emerged, with the smaller leftist candidates still wobbly from the upset at the last elections).

My favorite candidate right now would be the Green Party‘s Dominique Voynet, but I almost went into cardiac arrest when I saw her site. Go on, be a tiger, check it out.

I’ll try to post a full critique here, if possible in both French and English so it can be useful to someone around her (Alexis, are you reading this?). This is possibly the worst campaign site I’ve seen this decade, complete with mystery-meat navigation, useless explanations for elements that would have required useful ones, megabytes of pointless video that just take hours to download and have nothing to say, gimmicky bits that just take up pixels and distract the attention, funky names to structure the candidate’s proposals, a main section that’s still under construction, a video splash screen (believe it or not), and an accessible version of the site that does not use Flash, indeed, but images with image maps. (Oh, it does have a blog.)

An unbelievable festival that tastes like a bad joke. I hate myself for not reviewing the link Alexis sent me back when it was in test.

Another interesting point this year is the overwhelming presence of video on all sites (using Dailymotion or dedicated services). While it brings definite entertainment value and takes away some of the harder edge of the professional approach usually favored by politicians, it also brings definite entertainment value and takes away some of the cleaner edge of the professional approach usually appreciated in politicians. The amateurish feel can’t completely cover the politicking, but it does manage to scramble some issues. Wait, maybe that’s actually a way to cover the politicking, hehe.

Overall, the Ségolène Royal site is probably the most web-native, while remaining compatible with real-life campaigning and pushing the issues. François Bayrou‘s is pretty good as well, and looks like it made a very efficient use of limited resources. Sarko‘s efficiently emulates online the candidate’s real-life frantic activity.

An aspect I find quite interesting and will try to highlight, is the continuity between the street and broadcast media campaign, and the web campaign — not being in France I’ll have to take guesses about some of this, but many key points are pretty obvious. Another aspect that deserves attention is the link between the site of the candidate and that of its party, when appropriate (i.e. in most cases).

Before I do that, I’ll need the night to recover from the stun of Voynet’s ludicrous revival of the 1990s (plus a few hours to get a new fan on my soon-to-be-former corporate computer).

Edit 27 March: Review of Voynet’s site.

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