Is using Nationbuilder for the new Liberal Democrat website sensible?

Lib Dem websiteYes.

Oh, ok. The longer answer…

All five of the previous incarnations of the Liberal Democrat website have involved largely bespoke technology, with the code either specific for the Liberal Democrats or at least specific to that website supplier and their clients. Looking back on the two occasions where, working at party HQ, this was in effect was my decision, that still seems right given the range of options, suppliers and costs then available. However, the world has moved on since then, and now using off-the-shelf packages as the core of a website is common practice, even for very big budget systems.

It’s sensible that the party has taken the same route this time, going for Nationbuilder. That comes with some inevitable limitations as you have to work with the options Nationbuilder lets you have (and it’s less flexible than WordPress for general website work).

However, aside from the cost and reliability advantages of using a well-established option with a large client base, it also means the party has chosen a system that has at its heart a concentration on finding supporters, engaging with them and continuing to communicate with them.

Running petitions and surveys, keeping track of who has shared the site’s content, building up emails lists – these are all the sorts of tasks that a modern political website should be about and which Nationbuilder specialises in (and is much better than WordPress at this out of the box).

Understandably, people often judge a political website by the latest story on the site. Does it look interesting? Is it recent? But with political news so widely covered online these days, and with people so often finding their news by following links shared in social media, what matters much more is how well a site performs in search engine results, in gathering data and in helping to build up a regular flow of communication between the party and supporters. Those are more subtle points to assess when looking at a new site, and indeed best assessed on a longer timescale than the immediate gut reaction about fonts, colours and the location of a particular menu item.

One other thing to note about the new site – it continues the slow roll out of a new party logo – different font, different placement of wording relative to the bird.


One response to “Is using Nationbuilder for the new Liberal Democrat website sensible?”

  1. stuartbruce markpack I think that analysis is right, though I don’t agree that NationBuilder is less flexible for website work than WP.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments and data you submit with them will be handled in line with the privacy and moderation policies.