On Saturday, I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity. While there is quite a bit to remember about the rally itself, I’ll remember most how giddy I was when Jon Stewart first announced it.
The day after Stewart announced his rally, I went to the Web site, expecting some incredibly fancy site with all the bells and whistles that had clearly taken months and months to put together. But I was (pleasantly) surprised. The site was simple, with an almost late-nineties-like design, four buttons (FAQ, Getting There, Forum, Donate) and two features (Share This and email sign up).
And I loved it. Because while the rest of the world saw a simple Web site, I saw developers sipping on margaritas and remaining quite sane in the face of what was probably a crazy Web campaign. It was effective, and yet easy (or at least, that’s how it looks to me).
Now the site has a few more complexities. But it is still beautifully simplistic. And there is much to learn from this simplicity.
- It’s all temporary. Campaigns have a beginning, and more or less, an end. Consider the effort you’ll want to put into what is eventually going to be a short-term project.
- Evolve. The day after the campaign, the rally site was incredibly simple, and offered the minimum of what was needed in order to learn more. As time went on, more pages and features were added. Your site does not have to be 100% of what it will be on day one of your campaign.
- Stay in the box. Use the tools (paid and free), that you have before you, and don’t try to fool with them too much. The rally site uses WordPress. It’s using out-of-the-box Facebook and Twitter feed plugins.
- Don’t re-invent the wheel, or invent something else altogether. As I mentioned above, do your best to use what has already been tested and works. And even if you’re going to create a customized feature, don’t complicate it – look to other sites that are already doing something similar. Even the customized saneornot.com voting feature of the rally took the simplest pieces of functionality from the hotornot.com site.
- Keep your design simple. Stick to a few colors, and try to not to throw in too many fun and fancy design features that usually make your developers grumble (rounded corners, gradients, things that move). Find one thing that will make your site interesting.