Many local candidates are a campaign website builder to create a website to engage voters, raise donations, and build campaign support. A campaign website is the hub of that online presence.
For candidates and organizations, there are a number of political website builders available to create a site quickly and easily.
However, most are not optimized for political purposes. Here are some things to look for when choosing the best website builder for your political campaign.
What are the features of the content management system?
Generic website builders have generic tools. They typically include a page editor, form builder, and design suite. Most are little more than an online copy of Dreamweaver.
What? You don’t know how to use Dreamweaver? This ‘generic builder’ approach is like giving you access to a fully-stocked garage and leaving you to fix your own car.
Ideally, you’ll want to use a system that is made for non-technical users and designed specifically for political candidates. For example, Online Candidate includes campaign-related contact, volunteer, donation and endorsement forms. The forms are pre-designed, easily configurable, and can be added to one or more pages with ease. We’ve worked hard to make our political campaign website builder a tool to make building a campaign website as easy as possible.
Every election website should include:
- Donation Form
- Volunteer Form
- Endorsement Form
- Contact Form
Creating forms is not a fun task. That’s why our sites have those forms already built-in. We also include additional features such as an image gallery, blog area, multiple user logins, integration with popular political donation systems, data capture, and the ability to easily tie into outside vendor services.
Political website hosting services
Our hosting is different than a lot of services. Your domain is stand-alone on our server and not part of a sub-folder of the host company’s website. Some website builder services that allow ‘immediate sign up’ simply add your new ‘site’ as a hidden sub-folder. Then, if you want your own domain name, they point the domain to that subfolder, where the entire site is framed into a single page. This is bad for a number of reasons, including making the site difficult to rank and the possibility that other sites can be found just by changing the link a bit. That’s not good for ranking on search engines – or even looks professional in the eyes of your visitors.
And if you register your domain through a service, are you sure that you actually own the domain? Or can you even transfer the domain to another account in the future? This is an issue with any web hosting service, not just political website hosting services.
Many no-cost site builders get you to sign up with a free domain name, but then make it almost impossible to use the domain elsewhere if you want to leave them.
We don’t believe in that. If someone wants to be hosted elsewhere, that fine. We can point the domain to another server. If they want to transfer the domain to a different registrar, that’s fine too.
Keeping a client hostage just because they registered a campaign domain with a particular company is wrong.
How much does a political campaign website builder cost?
The cost of a political campaign website can vary. For high-end, custom websites built by marketing firms, the price can be thousands of dollars. Larger campaigns often take this approach. Smaller campaigns have a more limited budget. Generic website builders cost around $10-15 per month. That may not include a domain name and you are building your site from scratch.
Political website builders, like Online Candidate, have the advantages of including features that political candidates need, such as initial pages, specialized forms, an image library and integration with related services. For example, our platform costs $29/month, with discounted pricing for longer hosting periods. The system is designed to help get a political website up and running quickly. Users do not know how to code or have design experience in order to make a nice-looking site.
What are your design options?
With website software builders, you are often limited to specific designs. And most website builder services are geared for business clients. Because they are more generic in purpose, you may find it difficult to find a political design template that meets your needs.
Online Candidate is a platform specifically designed for political candidates and organizations. You won’t need to hunt around to find custom color schemes and graphics you need to customize your site’s look. We include a library of political images for you to use on your website – and also social media graphic templates that you can use, as well.
Our Lite Website Package and our $29 Monthly Option has a great selection of color templates and header graphics designed for political office and organizations. We also include specific graphics and color schemes for candidates running for sheriff, judge and school board.
How easy is the campaign website builder to use?
When creating a campaign website, not all systems are all the same. Many builder systems claim they are ‘easy’ to use, but turn out to be anything but simple. Is there a demo? Can you actually try the site editor before you sign up? Most don’t show you exactly how it works, and for good reason.
Even with free systems, you must load in a template. Then you need to build out all the pages. And then you have to make sure all the buttons are linked properly, find and scale your web images and so on. A free campaign website can cost you plenty of time setting things up from scratch.
We’ve continually improved the Online Candidate content management system over the last 15 years. They system has evolved with technology, design trends and with user feedback. We’ve made the system as simple to use for non-technical users, while allowing the flexibility that advanced users may require. Each step has detailed explanations (if you need them). Our editor has built-in styles, layout blocks and tools that are specifically made for political candidates. In fact, you can see our back-end demo for yourself.
Free website builders – are they worth it?
There are a few risks involved with using no-cost services to create a website. You may find you will spend more in time and frustration to get things working. If you are currently using free hosting solution like WordPress.com, Weebly or Wix you may want to be careful.
- Are there limitations? The first problem with free website hosting is that it often comes with serious limitations. For example, the site might be free, you may be limited in features or functionality that is important for your site be found on the web. You may find that upgrade locks you in on an annual basis, and can end being more expensive than premium hosting providers!
- Are you just an extension of another website? The trial site may be free, but until you purchase an upgrade for a domain name and hosting package, your website is stuck in a subfolder (nocosthost.com/yoursite) or subdomain (yoursite.nocosthost.com). Unless you website starts with its own domain name, you may just be a subsection of your host’s website. This is bad for your site and bad for SEO.
- You can be shut down and locked out. If you aren’t paying for a service, there is no guarantee of service. If you site is shut down or locked out, what are you going to do? Ask for your money back?
- The time factor. While a free site may seem like a way to save money when you start, you may find that you will spend more in time and money building your campaign site. That’s time and effort that can be used for other political purposes? If the right forms and tools are not built into the CMS, then you will have to build them out yourself.
Where’s the support?
If you use a free system to create your political website, good luck on getting help from a live person. With low-cost site builders, you are typically limited to just email or ticket support.
With Online Candidate, we’ve tried to make our system as intuitive as possible for the least-technical user. We also have a full online support system, email support and – most importantly – a phone number that you can actually use if you get stuck or have a question.
Our ticketing system is build directly into your site admin. If you have a problem, just click on the box in the lower right and send us a question.
If you are planning to build your own political campaign website this election season, start early. Lay the groundwork with best online foundation you can. Check out your options and choose the system with the features, functionality and services that work best for you.
We consider Online Candidate a great campaign website builder for candidates and organizations. We also provide political marketing services to help you win your elections.
- Download: Political Website Domains and Hosting – What You Need To Know
- Download: Online Candidate Quickstart Guide
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