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ACT Political Parties website roundup 2008

By johnboy - 9 September 2008 45

I’ve got a nasty head cold at the moment. But I felt my life was still lacking in pain. So yesterday I went and had a poke around all the political party websites to see what they had to offer and what they said about the eight parties vying for our votes next month.

In past elections where we’ve done this we’ve paid a lot of attention to hosting arrangements, software used to host the sites, and disability access.

But automated disability access checkers are no longer free, and the software the disabled use has become much better at handling carelessly constructed websites. Also in this era of virtualised hosting the exact arrangements say less than they used to.

So this time I’ve just looked at general aesthetics and usability. Knock yourselves out in the comments explaining how and why I’m wrong.

Parties appear in the order in which they are listed on the register of political parties.

Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch)

It’s attractive, and well laid out. The policy area is sadly a single huge Megabyte of pdf, so it’s there, but who’s going to read that?.

The newsroom is a bit light, mostly being links to other pages such as the Chief Minister’s Departmental page.

The TV page is still waiting for content, and the radio page has one ad.

Good layout and candidate information compensates.

Four stars.

Australian Motorist Party

It’s a clean and effective layout. But the site could do with more images, or any images at all other than just their logo.

Policies are a little light, And tumbleweeds are blowing through the through the newsroom.

Three stars

Liberal Democratic Party

The LDP has lots and lots of ideas. As you’d expect after a whole wing of political philosophy is crammed down to a lone minor party.

The website has only one candidate named and no mention of which electorate he’s contesting.

The press releases link is not working in Safari.

Two and a half stars.

Liberal Party of Australia (A.C.T. Division)

It’s got a big Z on it. And two pictures of big Zed depending where you’re at in the slideshow.

Black and white photography seems to be a big campaign theme of the Canberra Liberals on top of their blue and gold colours looking rather regal. It’s not entirely clear why the huge purple buttons were required.

Liberal TV has fourteen videos available for those who have tired of life.

There’s no consolidated newsroom. Which means visitors need to know that Vicki Dunne makes statements on the environment. Perhaps they’re assuming a little too much knowledge there? To be fair the front page does have the most recent news on it.

Policies are at least laid out to make it easy to find them.

Three and a half stars.

Pangallo Independents Party

It’s… grey…

With very big headlines.

The newsroom, however is functional, albeit in very, very, large type with some whitespace irregularities.

The whole site needs more photographs. And there are some obvious typos and spelling errors leaping out.

Apparently they’re only running in Molonglo. Or at least that’s the impression the website gives.

Three stars.

Richard Mulcahy Canberra Party

The old appears to have been hauled down which is a shame because it was a bit of a landmark as the ugliest website in the world. Based around netscape grade tables and with canary yellow everywhere. A 2007 view of an earlier horror has been maintained by the Internet Archive.

That excitement has been replaced with a postcard on the new site which eventually leads to a website.

That site sports a sad little menu item saying that a whole 628 visitors have been in since 5 August. We can only hope it bears up to the streams of curious rioters.

There’s no actual mention of which candidates are standing for which electorate.

The site does have a good looking newsroom, but it’s lacking updates since 15 August.

Three stars.

The ACT Greens

Purty. Green.

Menu items on the top and right leaving new content on the left. i.e. Thoughtfully intended to service regular visitors.

Candidates are heavily promoted, including which electorate they’re representing.

The newsroom is a bit light and apparently East Gippsland logging is a major issue for them at this upcoming ACT election. (Act local people, act local).

Four and a half stars.

The Community Alliance Party (ACT)

Busy! With mixed fonts.

And a series of testimonials from un-named people. Hmmm…

Candidates are well laid out by electorate, even if Norvan’s photograph makes him look like he has downs syndrome (I’m reasonably sure he doesn’t).

Policies are so voluminous as to beggar belief.

Four stars.

Candidates aren’t finalised until 24 September so at that time we’ll go back and see what web-presences they’ve whipped up for themselves.

[Disclosure: The ALP and LDP are, at the time of writing, advertisers with RiotACT.]

What’s Your opinion?

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45 Responses to
ACT Political Parties website roundup 2008
Granny 1:50 pm 09 Sep 08

I actually found the big “ALP Members Only” button a tad unfriendly. Sort of like, “Scabs, keep out!”

Loquaciousness 1:42 pm 09 Sep 08

johnboy said :

Anyway if L wants to spend the time screenshotting them then best of British to her.

Well, I wasn’t going to, but people have asked (I didn’t expect that, to be honest!). I’ll only do the interesting ones.


Loquaciousness 1:41 pm 09 Sep 08

Skidbladnir said :

Yellowgunk.jpg is the filename of the yellow LDP banner, just check their html or mouseover & rightclick – > Properties it.

Yes, what’s happened is that they haven’t provided any alt-text for it (which is what people using text-only browsers such as lynx see instead of a picture). So, lynx has used the filename of the image in an effort to give the reader some indication of what the picture might be. As the filename is yellowGunk.jpg, that’s what is being presented. Part of making a site accessible and standards compliant is providing meaningful alt-text for images. To be fair, most of the rest of the pictures have reasonable names (with a couple of exceptions, and all without alt-text, from what I can tell), but since yellowGunk is at the top of the page, it’s rather noticeable.


johnboy 1:36 pm 09 Sep 08

I did actually do the Lynx test, but thought the results were a little tedious and we do enough Mulcahy bashing.

Anyway if L wants to spend the time screenshotting them then best of British to her.

Loquaciousness 1:33 pm 09 Sep 08

jakez said :

Yep put up the screenshots.

Will do tonight, and post links for all 🙂


Skidbladnir 11:55 am 09 Sep 08

Yellowgunk.jpg is the filename of the yellow LDP banner, just check their html or mouseover & rightclick – > Properties it.

And the LDP Policy Forum (running wordpress) hasn’t had new content for some time now.

jakez 11:28 am 09 Sep 08

Yep put up the screenshots.

Granny 11:15 am 09 Sep 08

Ah, but “yellow gunk” has excellent social comment. Yoko Ono could have done something truly magnificent with it.

; )

I would be interested to see the screenshots. It could be quite funny!

Loquaciousness 11:02 am 09 Sep 08

As far as usability goes, opening the sites with Lynx (under Linux) can be a good way to assess how “friendly” they are …

For those not lucky enough to have easy access to lynx, I had a quick look at the front pages. Most do OK. The Liberal Democratic party site looks terribly confusing, and features a large banner at the top labelled as “yellow gunk” (obviously no one thought too hard about the text version of that picture)! The Pangallo Independents site is almost completely unreadable, but where they failed, Richard Mulcahy’s site succeeded – it can’t be navigated at all.

On the offchance that anyone is interested in seeing the screenshots, let me know, I would be happy to oblige.


Skidbladnir 10:57 am 09 Sep 08

Any chance of a “These people pay the-RiotACT to push ads on you people?” disclosure? (No sums needed, just a comment)

And its either Down syndrome or Down’s syndrome, but never Downs syndrome.

jakez 10:49 am 09 Sep 08

How about the Lenny Bruce Party? Same political philosophy but a lot more humour.

dorkus mallorkus 10:40 am 09 Sep 08

@jakez: That explains that, then – thanks.

It might be easier all round if they just change their name to The Minnie Bruce Party, since that name isn’t being used anymore.

jakez 10:33 am 09 Sep 08

Dorkus: The LDP are in a strange limbo world at the moment where on a Federal level they are the Liberty & Democracy Party but in the ACT they are still the original Liberal Democratic Party.

The reason for this is that ACT Elections accepted the name despite it being challenged by both the Democrats and the Liberals. The AEC however did not accept the name.

Last I heard, they were going to appeal the AEC decision as they seem to be quite attached to the Liberal Democratic name.

Of course, none of that really matters when you forget to submit the full name onto the ballot and are thus listed simply as LDP (as they were last Federal election).


The Liberal Party website is a vast improvement on the old one and there are many things I like about it. I think some aspects of it are a bit too smart arse. Johnboy mentioned having to click through to the MLA before finding the press release. This is something that irritates me as well and points to a bit of a form over function problem.

Thumper 10:26 am 09 Sep 08

What ACT politics needs is a Screaming Lord Such….

dorkus mallorkus 10:18 am 09 Sep 08

I clicked on the Membership Application Form link on the Liberal Democratic Party’s website – the form itself refers to the party as the “Liberty & Democracy Party”.

In the absence of a Monster Raving Loony Party candidate, I think I’m gonna have to vote for the schizophrenics (provided they’ve actually got a candidate in my electorate).

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