Running with the big dogs

Georgia’s 2010 Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, Chuck Donovan, needed a web site that would compare favorably to his major-party opponents. Trouble was, his opponents had campaign war chests ranging from more than $100k to over $8 million, plus paid staff to keep their sites updated.

We countered the big bucks with something money can’t buy: brains.

I used a WordPress back end so that any volunteer – or the candidate himself – could easily update the site. As an open source Content Management System (CMS), WordPress is actively maintained and extended with countless free or low-cost add-ons. A combination of these add-ons, called plug-ins, and custom code allowed us to utilize relevant content that was already on the web, saving time and effort.

Donovan’s photos were pulled in from his pool on a photo sharing site. We used a feed to include his latest Twitter posts. His events page was always current because the data was supplied by the same web-based calendar he updated via his smartphone. And the ability to quickly respond to the day’s issues via a blog post was something Donovan took full advantage of.

The purpose of the site called for a patriotic look and feel, but one that didn’t look like every other 2010 campaign web site. I used elements that many others employed – the American flag, the colors red, white and blue – but made use of duotone imagery and varying degrees of transparency, as well as black and white photography, to ensure the site was distinct and memorable.

While it’s fairly straightforward to start a WordPress site without coding knowledge, building a well-functioning site that is well-suited to a candidate, small business or solo entrepreneur is, for the average Joe, another matter altogether. The time and cost savings afforded by starting with WordPress, however, allow me to develop custom, professional sites even on a smaller budget.