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How this Congressional campaign won with NationBuilder [Case Study]

How this Congressional campaign won with NationBuilder [Case Study]

Since 2015, Hines Digital has worked with at least seventeen congressional campaigns across the United States.

That breadth of experience has allowed us to learn what’s important — and what isn’t — when it comes to launching a campaign effectively online.

One of the most valuable insights we’ve unearthed is that, while it’s essential to have a functional, scalable, on-brand website at launch, it’s a waste of time and money to try to build your campaign’s site to impress.

That’s what makes Florida Republican Byron Donalds’ campaign launch-day website so effective: it does everything that it needs to do (and well), and nothing that it doesn’t.

Below, I’ll break down what makes this design so effective, and explain why every down-ballot campaign ought to be doing something similar at launch.

1. It Was Built and Deployed Quickly

Under the Federal Election Commission’s rules, once a candidate begins making expenditures in connection with a federal campaign, they have just ten days to file their official Statement of Organization.

And since a Statement of Organization is a public document, candidates typically want to have their website ready for a public announcement timed to coincide with the paperwork dropping. 

That means that in most federal elections, a campaign’s website designer has just over a week from the moment the project begins to the moment the site needs to be live — and often even less than that.

Byron Donalds’ launch was no different — launching with little time for iteration or tinkering — which is why the ability to design, develop, and launch his website quickly and professionally was a crucial component of its success.

2. It Gets Right to the Point

Useful congressional campaign websites are not content-heavy. 

Like a traditional “door hanger,” their primary purpose is to establish brand awareness and answer the basic questions voters have about the candidate:

  • Who are they?
  • What’s their story?
  • Why should I vote for them?

A good campaign website also makes it easy for a candidate’s supporters to get involved, and in that area, Donalds’ site also excels. 

It’s intentionally clear how supporters can sign up to join the campaign, with the primary signup form appearing “above the fold” on both desktop and mobile-sized screens.

And because grassroots fundraising is fundamentally crucial in modern campaigns, the website puts explicit donate buttons in prominent places.

Screenshot: Byron Donalds’ Homepage (January 7, 2020)
Screenshot: Byron Donalds’ Homepage (January 7, 2020)

The campaign “hired” this website to do three jobs: tell the candidate’s story, collect email signups, and facilitate online donations. On those three points, it gets straight down to business clearly and effectively.

3. It Raised More Money Than it Cost

Buying a website is a lot like buying a car: there is a range of options at almost every price level, and with rare exceptions, they’re all pretty nice. Most people can find what they need by shopping for a model on the lot; a few people need something built-to-suit.

But while most people have purchased a car (or know someone who has), few candidates have invested in a website. As a result, they often make the mistake of overthinking their needs and over-inflating their budget. 

Screenshot: Byron Donalds’ Donation Page
Screenshot: Byron Donalds’ Donation Page (WinRed)

Byron Donalds’ team did not make that mistake. He got exactly the website he needed, and — without sharing hard numbers — I can say that he’s already turned a profit on that investment.

Within twenty-four hours of his campaign’s launched, Byron had already raised more money online through his campaign’s website than he invested in building the website. From here on out, every marginal dollar has his website infrastructure investment “in the black.”

The Bottom Line

For political campaigns, website design is not an art project. You’re effectively hiring that website to do a job (e.g., to tell your story, capture email signups, and raise money online), and you need it done effectively and profitably. 

By focusing on practical design within their constraints, Byron Donalds’ team got a website that got the job done on time and budget.